Italian Contemporary Film Festival 2013: Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
Quiet and mild-mannered British sound technician, Gilderoy (Toby Jones), arrives in Italy to work on a movie. He soon discovers he’s employed on a violent horror film, asked to create sound effects rather far from his usual world of documentary and children’s programming. Instead of autumn leaves crunching underfoot, Gilderoy records blood-curdling screams and must find creative ways to duplicate the sounds of stabbings, bludgeonings, or of hair being pulled out at the roots (vegetables, especially melons and cabbages, play an important role in his craft). As his work progresses, the people and places around him take on increasingly sinister undertones, and Gilderoy slowly loses his way.
Berberian Sound Studio is the story of the making of a horror film, and lays bare all the amazing ways that Foley technicians manufacture sound effects. What should normally demystify the process for the audience actually serves to intensify the sense of foreboding. Director Peter Strickland has created a creepy psychological thriller wrapped around the B-movie horror film inside. It even does a good job of looking like the 1970s, with drab studio rooms, low ambient lighting, and recurring splashes of red throughout (I loved the red “Silenzio” light frequently flashing on and off in the sound room).
I really enjoyed this movie, from the unnatural and inspired use of vegetables and the larger-than-life Italian director, to Gilderoy’s mom’s crazy letters from home. Even the opening credit scene for the (fake) Italian horror film – Equestrian Vortex, if you can imagine – was fantastic. It’s a movie of details. Of sound and of silence. And of what happens to a quiet man who has stepped so far out of his comfort zone, he may never find his way back.
Screening Times for Berberian Sound Studio
Wed, July 3 7:00 PM
The Royal, 608 College St, Toronto
Gallery of Images from Berberian Sound Studio
Watch the Berberian Sound Studio Trailer
For more information, please visit the Italian Contemporary Film Festival website.