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Voicing the CinemaFilm Music and the Integrated Soundtrack$
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James Buhler and Hannah Lewis

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043000

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043000.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Sound and the Comic/Horror Romance Film

Sound and the Comic/Horror Romance Film

Formula, Affect, and Inflection

(p.245) Chapter 13 Sound and the Comic/Horror Romance Film
Voicing the Cinema

Janet Staiger

University of Illinois Press

Media scholars (and audiences) routinely make useful comparative analyses of films and television series. The problems of grouping texts are well known. This essay proposes a multidimensional approach to this critical activity, one that focuses on formulas, affects, and inflections. Narrative formulas and affects propel our sense of a genre; however, inflections such as stars, target audiences, locales, time periods, verisimilitude, taste markers, or performance styles can radically twist the base into something more complicated. One of the most important sorts of inflections is use of sound: aural effects, voice, and music. Such a multidimensional approach to grouping texts helps to resolve many anomalies in genre categorizing: for instance, the generic category of the musical. Scholars have tended to describe the musical based on Hollywood films created between 1930 and 1960. During this period, most musicals use a standard romance formula and vary the space and time to form several common “subgenres.” The author argues that, from the 1960s, artists begin to turn to other narrative formulas such as the male quest story (Tommy), horror (Sweeney Todd), the fallen-man melodrama (All That Jazz, Pennies from Heaven), and the bio pix (Hamilton). What the musical “is” is inflecting a narrative formula with a particular musical treatment—bursting into song or dance not necessarily provoked by a reasonably motivated diegetic event such as a nightclub act. Such an inflection of musical treatment could be applied to any narrative formula and has been. This essay explores this argument focusing on the comic/horror romance film Zombieland (2009) but with other examples to illustrate the viability of the critical approach and the functions of sound.

Keywords:   genre theory, horror, romance, musicals, Zombieland

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