CAS Quarterly

Spring 2018

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MEET THE WINNERS 16 S P R I N G 2 0 1 8 C A S Q U A R T E R L Y Dunkirk by David Barber CAS MPSE The evacuation at Dunkirk was an historical event wrought with anxiety and dread. The fate of approximately 330,000 British and Allied troops appeared to be sealed, as they were surrounded on all sides and forced to take refuge on the beaches. From May 26 to June 4, 1940, the troops endured strafing runs by German Stukas and bombing runs that took out military vessels intended for their extraction. Their only deliverance was to be by sea, but it appeared that it would never come. During that fateful week, they were miraculously rescued from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France, by the unlikeliest of champions—a civilian fleet comprised of hundreds of merchant marine boats, fishing boats, yachts and other pleasure craft, in addition to several British and Canadian naval vessels. Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk brings the audience into the confusion, urgency, peril, and relentless disquiet of all of the participants in that rescue. The imagery is at times dizzying and expansive and then suddenly claustrophobic, ferrying the viewer from the beaches of Dunkirk, to the Mole, to the rescue craft, and into the battles in the skies over the English Channel. The CAS Awards, BAFTAs, and Academy Awards for the sound on Dunkirk are testament to the accomplishments and craftsmanship of Mark Weingarten CAS (production mixer), Thomas J. O'Connell (ADR mixer), Scott Curtis (Foley mixer), Alan Meyerson CAS (scoring mixer), and Gary Rizzo CAS and Gregg Landaker (re-recording mixers). Dunkirk challenged every discipline of sound mixing, pushing the creative, technical, and artistic achievements of these professionals to new levels. After speaking individually to the award-winning mixing team from Dunkirk, it became apparent that the process of mixing for the film was as unique and compelling as the soundtrack they created. The Vision The sound for Dunkirk aimed to engulf the audience in the experience of the soldiers, the pilots, and those onboard the rescue craft, never letting the audience off the mat until the danger abated... Gregg: The feeling of Dunkirk has to be this thread of a pulse that literally and physically changes the audience's breathing pattern and heart rate. You feel like you are suppressed by this movie, by the soldiers' hardship, you are living in that moment, the same as those who lived through Dunkirk. The panic going through the soldiers' minds every time they heard a Stuka, it's like, "Oh my God, here it comes again…" and feeling helpless. Gary: There is a magical momentum that works its way through this entire film. That pulse controls the blood pressure of the film itself and in turn, controls the blood pressure of the audience. It's a hijacking of the cardiovascular system. That pulse controls the amount of adrenaline that is going through the body of every audience member and when you orchestrate that the way Chris does, he puts the audience right where he wants them. The film is constantly communicating the sense of the desperation for survival where, even in the quieter moments, you're not sure what is coming next. Alan: The sustained tension and the use of the pulse … that was by design. We spent a lot of time talking about it. It goes through the entire film, changing in color, texture, and tempo, but it is always there. In the score for Dunkirk, the pulse element was actually treated as separate from the tonal elements of the music. They were overlaid onto each other in the mix. That pulse was designed to always press on the audience, like you're constantly getting the sense of rushing and impending doom. That was without question the number one directive—to keep that energy going from the beginning to the end of the film. All hands on deck for the final mix of Dunkirk at Warner Bros. on Stage 9

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