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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Jigsaw: Sound Production

I personally don’t tend to enjoy or even watch this type of movie, but for this assignment I thought this “Jigsaw” would be an interesting subject. This is mainly due to it’s intense gore, interesting and unique “gadgets”, which I assumed would mean lots of intense sounds. In order to properly discuss the sound and what made it so interesting to me, I first need to give a brief overview of the plot and story.

“Jigsaw” tells two parallel but very different stories. The first story is about a group of people trapped in a maze like torture chamber setup in a barn. These people are then killed off one by one as they try to escape “traps”. The second is about a group of detectives trying to find these people as their bodies turn up in seemingly random places.

The move jumps between the two stories and spends equal time in each, they both take place in very different locations with very different people while very different actions are happening. I will talk about the first two scenes because they were very different from each other but together represented the overall direction of the sound.

The film starred with loud blaring intense “action” music that went over the logos. The logo soundtracks were not heard as they often are. This was done to immediately pull the audience into the movie. Once picture appeared on screen though the sound dropped to give the action the main focus. While the initial chase was happening every “action” sound, such are car engines or metal doors being swung open, was exaggerated to introduce the scene and make things more intense. While this was happening the music was lower for a moment but after a about a minute they evened out.

For the first couple minute of the film there was no actual dialogue, just the occasional shouting between police officers. Once one of the lead characters walked onto the scene, which took place on a rooftop, the music and other sounds dipped to give emphasis to what he had to say showing that he was going to be an important character. Many cops had come on screen and even another detective, but it was the sound dipping and the the audio focusing on this particular detectives lines and actions that showed he was the lead of the scene.

In the end of the scene the main antagonist of the scene presses a button, the scene then jumps to a different location as a timer starts counting down. When this happened the sounds of the first scene stopped abruptly and the feeling changed drastically. The first part, as I said, took place on a rooftop and the clock was in a new location. At this point you did not know where but the echo of the timer counting down told you it was in a far less open location.

The movie then cut back to the rooftop as the police fired on the antagonist. They shoot his hand off, in reality the sound of his hand exploding (which also probably wouldn’t have happened the way it did) would have been completely drowned out by the gunfire, but because if the type of movie this was, the squishy gross sound of the hand exploding was exaggerated and was at the same level of the gunshots.

The next scene was introducing the group of people trapped in the maze. When you first meet them they all have steel devises made out of buckets over their faces. In this scene every clank was exaggerated and turned up to emphasis what was happening. Once the people started waking up the sounds of the steel were brought down and their screams and heavy breathing was brought up to bring the audience into their shoes and show how desperate and afraid these people were. After a moment the voice if Jigsaw, the killer, came over loud speakers and he gave speech. When this happened the screams stopped and the voice over the speaker dominated. The volume showed his power and the raspy dirty sound of his voice on the speaker emphasized his sinister intentions. Even with no contact and nothing on screen, the way the voice sounded told you that this man was powerful and evil.

After his speech, the devices on the people’s heads started being pulled with chains to a wall with active circular saws. When this started the people started screaming but their screams were drowned out by the sound of the chains and the saws on the wall. This was done because the characters aren’t what this movie was made for, people don’t go to “Saw” movies (the series this film is part of) to watch characters, they go to see people they don’t care about get torn apart and murdered in gruesome ways. The filmmakers and sound designers know the audience doesn’t want to be in the characters heads. If they wanted that, they would have put the video and sound emphasis on the people, hearing them scream and struggle would have done that, but as I said the audience isn’t here for that. They want to hear the grit and rattle of the devices used to kill these undeveloped characters.

In the end of this scene they charaters figure out the way to escape is to intentionally cut themselves on the saws before they are pulled in completely. Again like with the gun shot this was meant to be gross and disturbing, so to emphasis this the gross squishy sound of the blood gushing was turned up to an exaggerated level. When one character is pulled into the saws the sounds of all the other saws, which until this point were still the main sound, dipped to give the gross bone crushing and blood splattering sounds the main focus.

Over all the basic sound design of the movie to put focus on the gross sounds. This is not a movie meant to be taken seriously at all. This is for the audience to, as Stephen King put it, feed the alligators and have fun doing so. To do this the sounds couldn’t be to real, they had to exaggerated and almost cartoon like in some scenes. Throughout the movie whenever people who were bloody from prier scenes moved they always had a squishy sound to them even though they wouldn’t really. A bloody hand does not sound like a foot stepping in mud when it’s wide open.

Another interesting thing this movie did that I liked was at the end of each scene before it jumped to the other story, the sound would set up for the difference. For the detective storyline, before jumping to the maze story, the sound would dip and things would calm only to be interrupted by intense loud noise for the new scene, this would surprise the audience and emphasis the difference in these stories. When jumping to the detective story the sounds in the maze would turn up to then be dipped the moment the other story resumed.

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