CINÉMA DU REEL 2018: IN THE STILLNESS OF SOUNDS BY SERGE STEYER AND STÉPHANE MANCHEMATIN

This entry was posted on April 4th, 2018

By Ivonne Sheen

In In the stillness of sounds, we follow closely to the engineer and sound artist Marc Namblard. We learn about his family, his friends, his environment; but first of all, we learn about his art: the art of sounds. The special thing about his work is the sources he use and his dedication to find the sublime in nature’s sound ecosystem.

Vision is the sense for excellence, and there’s no doubt that western societies have given predominancy to vision, and in this way it becomes into a niche of sense and logic, what approaches it closer to discurse. Our other senses have been somehow abandoned by the majority of artistic manifestations, nevertheless there are exceptions, and Namblard’s work is one of the jewels that sound art could have. Through out the film, we accompany Namblard in his admiration and sound-philia, while he registers natura and his everydayness as well. He listens to his recordings of natural habitats with attention, which he also challenges to identify. However, is quite difficult to detach from the sensations that his sounds provoke, the necessity to find a meaning o sense to what what is heard, dissipates, but the surprise remains when the sound source is revealed. There’s a new knowledge, a discovery, sounds of natural with rythm, intensities, tones, that orchestrate organically, and approaches us to our natural surroundings, mainly appreciated with photographic postcards, than sound postcard.

The stillness that the movie’s title refers to, could be read since meditation zen practica, and the self detachment, to connect with the environment. Even though the film don’t show any relationship with this kind of spirituality, inevitably are nearby practices, that also remind of John Cage’s work. Marc’s environment seem to be a peaceful one, a devoted father that sometimes embarks himself in sound expeditions, and take one of his daughter with him. The sound artist pays attention to everything that is around, from the weeping of his baby daughter to the ice breaking of a frozen lake. There’s an opening to different ways of relations with what is heard, the sense of the sound and the logical relations, don’t predominates in Namblard’s work, since it becomes more into an exercise of listening, in an entertainment of listening that look forward to emancipate it from any logical determination. It implies a presentation to the vitality of sound that stimulate the imagination and memory.

The film is coherent in its aesthetic, since the sound design is neat and has a presence, mainly in strong moments such as the recognition of the sound of a bee’s legs scratching, listening in close-up, becomes into a sound magic trick that we’re not used to recognize. In the stillness of sounds, is a pedagogical film, a film of opening to an essential aspect of our perception, an invitation to stillness and to giving. The film closes with a sound registration of the protagonist’s childhood, sound memories that he usually listens to. The director achieve a approach to what resounds inside us when a sound touches us.

Producers: Les Films de la pluie, Ana Films, France Télévisions, Vosges télévision
Directors: Serge Steyer, Stéphane Manchematin
Country: Francia
Year: 2018
Durarion: 90 min