Fascinating Rhythm: Performance and Direction in Hollywood after Sound


ACLS Fellowship Program


Communication Arts


This monograph examines cinematic rhythm and pacing in Hollywood film in the years before and after the transition to sound. The pace of a film plot is partly a function of narrative structures—for example, the creation of surprise or suspense—but also of stylistic elements such as editing, sound, and figure movement, which contribute to rhythmic organization. These elements were transformed by the technical limitations and opportunities of the new sound medium. Case studies deal with editing, music, dialogue, and figure and camera movement as components of overall rhythmic design. In all cases, attention will be paid to how the evolution of technical parameters affected the process of storytelling, to the interface between rhythm and narrative.