The creative voice: free indirect speech in the cinema of Rohmer and Bresson

Heinemann, David ORCID logoORCID: (2012) The creative voice: free indirect speech in the cinema of Rohmer and Bresson. The New Soundtrack, 2 (1) . pp. 39-49. ISSN 2042-8855 [Article] (doi:10.3366/sound.2012.0024)

PDF (Conference paper the article is based on)
Download (146kB) | Preview


This article examines a particular use of the voice in cinema which conveys character reflexivity and generates expressive ambiguity in a film's narrative point of view. Drawing on Pasolini's notion of the free indirect style and Deleuze's elaboration of this into his concept of the free indirect speech-act, two different creative uses of speech are analysed: one in Rohmer's Claire's Knee (1970) and the other in Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest (1951). The essay finds that when characters narrate their thoughts, feelings, actions or experiences in a reflexive manner (that is, to themselves, even if also to another), and this activity becomes for a time the primary event of the film, these characters step into the role of storyteller. They become both subject and object of their utterances which take on the style of the free indirect. With this, the voice enters into a new relationship with the image – directing, counterpointing, or disconnecting from it – changing the function of voice and image while seeming momentarily to supplant the film's narration. The symbolic nature of language gives words the power to create images and meaning that cannot be captured or conveyed by the camera alone. Privileging speech as a creative force not only dimensionalises character but, on a formal level, creates a role for voice that allows it to exist not as an appendage to the image but for its own sake. In order to suggest practical uses for these theoretical considerations, Bresson's and Rohmer's reflections on the role of the voice are also discussed.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Media
Item ID: 4773
Useful Links:
Depositing User: David Heinemann
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2010 16:56
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 00:33

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.