How The Zone Of Interest Crafted One Of The Most Disturbing Sound Mixes Ever Heard In A Movie

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Written By Sedoso Feb

During a Q&A with Jonathan Glazer livestreamed before screenings presented by the Alamo Drafthouse theaters, the filmmaker explained, “The idea of the film was always that there’d sort of be two films: the film you’d see, and the film you’d hear.” In order to present the film as authentically and ethically as possible, Glazer said many of the sounds included to express what was happening from over the wall in the camp were gathered from witness testimonies. “There were no photographs taken inside the camp at that stage, and a lot of our thoughts came from drawings, actually, that were done by prisoners during their imprisonment who drew witness evidence, visual evidence, of the atrocities that were happening among them and around them,” he said. “So those provided a lot of information, sonically.”

The team also looked toward artists who had survived World War II and channelled their trauma of witnessing the Holocaust into their work, like composer David Olère. From there, sound designer Johnnie Burn captured a series of field recordings to develop the soundscape from actual recordings. “They’d go to Germany — for instance, Berlin at night — and they’d wait for an argument to happen and put themselves somewhere where they could record it,” Glazer said of the sound team. In an interview with IndieWire, Burn said that he recorded moments during the Parisian riots for group shouting as well. This prevents the audio from sounding too staged or performative, instead capturing lived-in reality of the sounds that occur when no one knows — or cares — that they can be heard. These elements were then combined with the work of composer Mica Levi, and Glazer and editor Paul Watts made sure the pacing of the film worked well with the sound.

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