Sunday, January 22, 2012

Background music and nature films

Being laid low by a virus infection gave me more time to watch television. Two matters from this have been food for thought.
Years ago I saw a film that had, as one of its scenes, a man crawling through desert sand about to die of thirst. He was accompanied by orchestral music. So I didn’t see why he couldn’t have turned right, crossed a sand dune, and asked a musician for a glass of water.
Much the same situation has been very apparent in a nature series that I saw on the box.
It is true that long-lens photography of animals making a noise is difficult to record. So, somewhere, a sound person might well have been extracting a cork from a bottle each time a penguin rocketed from the water to land on an ice floe.
When making appropriate sounds to fit the action becomes difficult, a full orchestra is brought into play. Natural sounds are then thought by these portrayers of nature to be unnecessary.
But the accompanying orchestras can be so intrusive that the music detracts from the action.
One feels that all might well be reversed. Why not show the orchestra, with a showman of a conductor encouraging his musicians - with a few nature bits superimposed on a backdrop behind him.
Because we, as viewers, especially of nature programmes, have now seen the intimate lives of nearly every bird, insect and beast on this planet, it has become essential with repeat images to announce every so often that: “This is the first time that anyone has seen…”
The makers of these films have not been watching television. Most of us have seen the lot already.
So that is now the new quest when repeating the subject. It is to find something new.
The great fall-back is to film lions chasing wildebeests toward crocodile-infested water.
Now, if one of these wildebeests should reach the water, see a crocodile, take fright, turn back, and fall into the jaws of a lion, that might be new. But do we care any more?