Home » ‘Civil War’ Sound Editor on Balancing “Oppressive” Battle Noise With Abrupt Silence

‘Civil War’ Sound Editor on Balancing “Oppressive” Battle Noise With Abrupt Silence

by UNN Feed

In notching A24’s highest-grossing opening weekend to date, Alex Garland’s debate-stirring combat film Civil War has made plenty of noise — both figuratively and literally.

Starring Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny and Wagner Moura, the project has spurred conversation over its depiction of a small group of journalists witnessing the violently divided U.S. en route to collecting $25.7 million at the domestic box office this weekend. Among the buzziest elements of the film has been its sound design, as Civil War’s use of jarring battle noise, along with the impactful contrast between its onslaught of gunfire and moments of dead silence. It all adds to the chaos and tension.

Civil War supervising sound editor Glenn Freemantle, an Oscar winner for 2013’s Gravity, tells The Hollywood Reporter that he and frequent collaborator Garland were in lockstep in how to best create the film’s dystopian world.

“First of all, he said, ‘War is chaos. It’s ugly. I’m sure the guns are just fucking loud, and they’re not pretty,’” Freemantle recalls. “That was a concept where everything was going to be as real as we could do it. And he also said there’s not going to be a lot of score. So every time there’s a big action sequence, it’s going to play out for real.”

Freemantle praises the decision to limit the amount of music and appreciates A24 for backing this strategy. “We don’t do both at the same time, which is very different,” he says. “A lot of studios, they like to make sure they back it up with music. It’s like a safety blanket all the time. But Alex is not a director like that.”

Freemantle’s team crafted quiet moments early on in the film to prepare audiences for the sharp contrasts that would continue, including a spot in the first half of the movie that goes silent after the leads drive together to reach a protest.

“That is about the longest silence I think I’ve ever used…

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