A Brief History of Sound in Film

Recently, I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time, and I was absolutely blown away by how enraptured I was, simply by the sound. That got me thinking, what films have some of the most iconic soundtracks and original scores? So here it is, a brief history of some of the best sound in film.

Mission Impossible: The TV series, 1966 - 1973

The tv series that inspired the even more popular film series starring everyone’s favorite scientologist, has one of the best themes in the history of action movies. While it may be simplistic, the tense and suspense driven theme gives a certain comedic feel to the show/films, causing it to be something more than just a 007 rip off, although….

James Bond Film Series, 1962 - ?

Who would James Bond be without his signature theme? Definitely a worse shot, but also much less suave, and that is what makes him unique from any other fictional spy in the world. In this year’s SPECTRE (check out my review here), the first shot of the classic gunshot to the camera followed by the signature theme sent back waves of nostalgia. 

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968

2001 is one of those films that could be devoid of anything but sound and still likely be regarded as one of the most innovative films of all time. In 2001, there isn't exactly a clear cut main character, and the one who is there is mostly a husk. Sound design is the protagonist in 2001, bringing an incredible amount of anticipation to every scene, regardless of its slow nature. Also, you've definitely heard this iconic original score once before, regardless of whether or not you've seen the movie.

Juno, 2007

An example of a mostly unoriginal soundtrack, 2007’s Juno boasts one of the most pleasing soundtracks in any film. With a mix of indie artists and original melodies from unique artist Kimya Dawson, Juno’s soundtrack perfectly fits the film’s unconventional love theme. Also, the soundtrack won a Grammy. 

Psycho, 1960

Has anyone not heard this soundtrack? While the iconic shower scene gets most of the attention, the rest of the soundtrack is also just as good. Balancing tension without overpowering the actor’s amazing performances, Psycho is more than just a knife and chocolate syrup. 

Well, there it is, a brief history of fantastic sound in film. I'm sure I've skipped a lot, and maybe one day I'll revisit this topic with a broader knowledge of the topic. Until then, listen on!

Cole ClarkComment