Oswald Iten: Silence in THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS

David Lean’s 1949 melodrama THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS has never gained the same popularity as its similarly themed predecessor BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945). But apart from a stellar performance by Claude Rains it has something that is practically inexistent in the earlier film: silence. And that is what this audiovisual analysis is all about.

It was originally conceived as a companion piece to MELODRAMATIC RAILWAY SOUNDS (vimeo.com/291452767). But since I have eliminated most of the comparisons to BRIEF ENCOUNTER in the process, it also works as a standalone soundtrack analysis. In these essays, I always try to visualise sound objects in a way that is appropriate to the source material. This time, the challenges were sensual sound effects and silence, of course.

Except for my voice, all sounds in this video come from the audio track of THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS (and in respective clips from BRIEF ENCOUNTER), no equalizers or filters applied. Please note, that in order to highlight certain parts of the soundtrack, I constantly adjust the volume of the clips. This might go without saying. However, while most viewers notice frame, size or brightness changes in an image, sound changes tend to be less obtrusive. So if you want to get a sense of the full dynamic, there is no way around going back to the original film – which I recommend anyway.