Aural auteur : sound in the films of Rolf de Heer

Starrs, D. Bruno (2009) Aural auteur : sound in the films of Rolf de Heer. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


An interpretative methodology for understanding meaning in cinema since the 1950s, auteur analysis is an approach to film studies in which an individual, usually the director, is studied as the author of her or his films. The principal argument of this thesis is that proponents of auteurism have privileged examination of the visual components in a film-maker’s body of work, neglecting the potentially significant role played by sound.

The thesis seeks to address this problematic imbalance by interrogating the creative use of sound in the films written and directed by Rolf de Heer, asking the question, “Does his use of sound make Rolf de Heer an aural auteur?” In so far as the term ‘aural’ encompasses everything in the film that is heard by the audience, the analysis seeks to discover if de Heer has, as Peter Wollen suggests of the auteur and her or his directing of the visual components (1968, 1972 and 1998), unconsciously left a detectable aural signature on his films.

The thesis delivers an innovative outcome by demonstrating that auteur analysis that goes beyond the mise-en-scène (i.e. visuals) is productive and worthwhile as an interpretive response to film. De Heer’s use of the aural point of view and binaural sound recording, his interest in providing a ‘voice’ for marginalised people, his self-penned song lyrics, his close and early collaboration with composer Graham Tardif and sound designer Jim Currie, his ‘hands-on’ approach to sound recording and sound editing and his predilection for making films about sound are all shown to be examples of de Heer’s aural auteurism.

As well as the three published (or accepted for publication) interviews with de Heer, Tardif and Currie, the dissertation consists of seven papers refereed and published (or accepted for publication) in journals and international conference proceedings, a literature review and a unifying essay. The papers presented are close textual analyses of de Heer’s films which, when considered as a whole, support the thesis’ overall argument and serve as a comprehensive auteur analysis, the first such sustained study of his work, and the first with an emphasis on the aural.

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ID Code: 29302
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Yeates, Helen, Muller, Vivienne, & Portmann, Geoffrey
Keywords: Rolf de Heer, auteur analysis, aural auteur, auteurism, auteurist, authorship, textual analysis, film sound, Australian film, aural point of view, binaural sound recording, unlikely protagonist, non-hyper-masculine protagonist, psychoanalytic film theory, Graham Tardif, Jim Currie
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 15 Dec 2009 01:45
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:54

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