The Coming of Sound Film in Sweden 1928-1932 New and Old Technologies

University dissertation from Stockholm : Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis

Abstract: This dissertation examines the coming of sound film in Sweden during the years 1928–1932, and the reception of mechanically recorded sounds both in the trade press and among audiences. The novelty of sound film opened up for a negotiation of the perception of sound and image, as it made visible the film medium’s technological construction, before this visibility was once more absorbed by the cinematic discourse. The conversion to sound film is considered from three perspectives -- technology, reception and practice -- as well as through the concept of intermediality, focussing how the audio-visual expression changed during this period.Chapter 1 “Image, Sound, Audience I: ‘Constructed’ sounds - the visibility of technology” deals with these issues prior to the conversion to sound, and the following intermediate years, until sound film had reached a certain equilibrium.Chapter 2 “Production – The Companies” deals with the production and the major Swedish sound companies. Particular attention is given to how formative music in their films transforms itself into a consistent use of non-diegetic music two years before this happened in Hollywood.Chapter 3 “Reception – The Cinemas” addresses the topic of the reception of the first sound films in Sweden during 1929. The argument is that the audience’s re-awakened awareness of the technology described in Chapter 1 was an active part in this process, and that their reactions led back into the advertising campaigns, making them participants in the cinematic event.Chapter 4 “Practice – The Musicians” continues this debate from a musician’s point of view. This chapter turns the focus upside down and looks at the arrival of sound film from a grass-roots perspective. While chapter 4 diverts somewhat in dwelling on issues that do not strictly deal with the conversion to sound, it serves to contextualise a technological invention that changed not only film production and reception, but also had very concrete social repercussions for those that created the sounds of music.Chapter 5 “Image, Sound, Audience II: ‘Authentic’ sounds - the disappearance of technology” dovetails with Chapter 1, addressing similar phenomena at a time when these had become fully integrated and the technology once more became invisible.

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