News from the Locarno Festival

Fermo immagine – day 9

A still from “Apocalypse Now” by Francis Ford Coppola



For Francis Ford Coppola, listening to Walter Murch is like following a path marked by titbits of wisdom which, like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of bread crumbs, represent both guidance and nourishment. The trails left by Murch are found not only in his extraordinary book about editing (In the Blink of an Eye), which I recommend every young person read, but also in the many films he laid his hands on, giving them a form they would never have had without his contribution.

The main reason I’m proud we’re hosting this artist is that it allows the Festival to focus attention on sound, an aspect of cinematic art that often languishes in the background. And by sound I don’t mean the music that often comes in to cover an imperfect link or to give the right rhythm to a sequence. In the films on which Murch has worked, the composition of a soundtrack is not a decorative addition but part of the main body of the work. Think of Apocalypse Now and the famous throb of helicopter blades, which becomes the expression of a mental obsession. Or The Conversation with that fantastic opening scene in which Gene Hackman attempts to decipher a dialogue, a real homage to sound as a tool for interpreting reality. Walter Murch, who over the years also became an extraordinary editor, began recording and layering sounds when he was just a boy. I have no doubts that hearing him talk about the various components of his work – recording, mixing and sound design (a term he coined to define the furnishing of a space with sound) will be an unmissable event at a Festival that wants to be a constant discovery of the mysteries and power of cinema. 

Carlo Chatrian
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