What’s that movie with the man who’s a bat?

Dude needs a hug.  And some chapstick.

Ledger's Joker: Dude needs a hug. And some chapstick.

(No spoilers.) Batman: Dark Knight is great; exciting and well-constructed. Here’s a trailer, but frankly it’s good to go into this one cold.

I’m on board with all the buzz that Heath Ledger will likely get a posthumous Oscar nomination for his deeply disturbed Joker, and probably even win. His sardonic, unpredictable performance is at once terrifying and endearing, and couldn’t be more different than his also excellent work in Brokeback Mountain. He was insanely talented, and the fact that we’ll never see what else he had in him makes me sad.

I spent all day today in an audio studio, so watching B:DK tonight, I noticed something that ordinarily probably wouldn’t have stood out to me. Usually the sounds of breathing and mouth noises (spit smacks) are de-emphasized or removed in post-audio; the volume of actual words are raised, and the volume of breaths and biological mouth noise are signifigcantly lowered. Plus, in a movie (as opposed, to, say, an animation studio), the microphones are usually either hidden in the performers’ shirts, around their chest area- or boomed from above (a boom is a big microphone on a stick). In either case, the mic isn’t usually that close to the actor’s mouth on-set, so you don’t hear their mouth noise.

But in B:DK, Ledger’s spit-smacks and breathing are really prominent- I’d say even accentuated- and that’s part of what makes him so scary. There’s an intimacy to his voice that makes him feel as though his chapped lips are brushing right up against your individual ear.

Oscar-worthy, right?

Oscar-worthy, right?

Actually, now that I think about it, there are many Oscar-nominated performances where the actor badly needed a chapstick. Charlize Theron in Monster, Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July, Emily Watson in Hilary and Jackie, Tom Hanks in Castaway. Forget the Stanislavsky method, just dry your lips with some paper towel and then use your fingers to stretch them til they bleed. You can thank me from the podium.


One Response to What’s that movie with the man who’s a bat?

  1. […] very neurotic about spit-smacks and mouth-noise because I believe they make you sound like Heath Ledger. And so sometimes you need to swish water to kind of wash away the spit; and sometimes you need […]

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