The Oscar Project Reviews
For people who love film, getting to hear from some of the biggest names in the business from the last 40-50 years comes with a special thrill. Usually those names include people like Spielberg, Lucas, Lynch, Redford, Nolan, or Coppola. While some of those names appear here, the real stars of the show are Burtt, Murch, and Rydstrom, with some help from Zimmer and Göransson.
Put simply, Making Waves is your 90-minute primer on sound in film. If you watch films today in a Dolby surround sound theater, you might not think of all the various steps it too to get from the few minutes of synchronized sound in 1927's The Jazz Singer to the multitrack feast for your ears in an Avengers or Star Wars film. Perhaps you don't even think about the sound at all, just letting the entire experience wash over you. Enter Making Waves. (For more on The Jazz Singer, check out my podcast episode about it.)
The film does an excellent job of setting the stage for why sound is important in film before diving into a detailed history of sound (or lack there of) in film, going all the way back to the 1870s. The three key players mentioned above (Ben Burtt, Walter Murch, and Gary Rydstrom) relate their experiences first hand from working with directors Francis Ford Coppola (Murch), George Lucas (Burtt), and John Lasseter (Rydstrom) on some of the biggest films of the last 50 years, some of which were highly underestimated.
Once the film completes a 30-minute history lesson on sound in film, it jumps back into what the interviewees dub the "circle of sound." This includes the dialogue, sound effects, and music, which, when mixed together form the soundtrack of the film.
As a lover of films and many of the directors mentioned and interviewed for the film, I was enthralled with the depth provided here. I also have to admit to being a bit surprised at the relative level of diversity displayed throughout with nearly as many women interviewed for the film as men, and a number of individuals from different ethnic backgrounds. Granted the three kingpins are all white men, but since Burtt was the only really well known name for me, I was pleased to see a variety of people working on some of my favorite films.
My only real critique with the film is that I wish it had been longer! I never missed an episode of the 90s Discovery Channel show Movie Magic which mainly dealt with visual effects, and I would gladly sit through a 25 minute weekly episode about sound in films. One could easily teach an entire 100-level university class on the subject of this film, and probably not even scratch the surface.
The film is a must-watch for anyone who considers themselves a true film buff and at just over an hour and a half, it won't eat too much into your list of other things to watch.
Making Waves is available on Amazon Prime.
9 out of 10