Hi, I' m doing some research right now for a movie i ll be doing in a couple of months. Can you recommend me any movie where a sound "POV" from a deaf character is used? I d like to see different approaches to this situation. Thanks a lot!


11 Answers 11


I did a short film a few years ago where the lead character was deaf and point of view was an important device in the sound design. The film was called CLOSER and was directed by David Rittey... Its available on this DVD collection of short films http://www.waikato.ac.nz/film/NAME/ShortReels/ShortReels_info.html

The film Babel features a Japanese actress who is deaf (in the film, not in reality) although I remember thinking there were missed opportunities in its sound design. Eg she goes to a night club & they played her point of view as mute, when it obviously wouldn't be... Sound is vibration and anyone who has ever been in a nightclub knows you feel the bass through your whole body, not just through your ears... In the short film Closer we used this device at times ie creating low frequency vibrational versions of real effects eg a normal car pass became a low frequency wind gust...

Another valuable reference might be the documentary about deaf percussionist Evelyn Glenny, Touch The Sound - there are excerpts from it on youtube including a beautiful improv with Fred Frith...

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    Evelyn Glennie's TED talk ted.com/talks/evelyn_glennie_shows_how_to_listen.html i found it a tad too long (and slightly, forgive the pun, tedious) , and obviously that scene in saving private ryan..
    – georgi
    Commented Mar 5, 2010 at 22:32
  • Thanks a lot! I ve seen Touch the sound and is really great. I m gonna check out that short film. Commented Mar 6, 2010 at 0:53

This may not be precisely what you're looking for, but at about 35 minutes 20 seconds into Elem Klimov's 'Come and See' (Idi i smotri). A bombshell explodes close to the main character. For about 20 minutes, the sound flows in and out of the characters 'deafened' perspective.

This, as I said may not be entirely what you're after, but it is a very interesting sequence and overall the film has an extremely affecting and rather disturbing implementation of the sound design, particularly POV sound.

Hope this is helpful.


Copland comes to mind - there's a brilliant sequence towards the end. Sylvester Stallone's character loses his hearing due to a shotgun blast next to his ear and the scene that follows puts the spectator in the same state of deafness. Very interesting. Another wonderful and more recent example would be the explosion in There Will Be Blood where Daniel Day-Lewis' child loses his hearing.

There's also a French film by the name of Sur mes lèvres (Read My Lips) where the main character is almost deaf and lip-reads. This is told very eloquently through the sound design.

I'd love to hear of more examples...


There is also an explosion in "The Pianist", after which Aidren Brody's character suffers temporary hearing shift, achieved startlingly well through sound design. There was also a recnet Australian film called "Noise" (written and directed by Mathew Saville if you go looking for it), in which the main character is a policeman suffering from increasingly bad tinnitus. The sound design is by Emma Bortignon, and it really makes the film special!


There's a great sc in Band of Brothers after a building in a town get a mortor through the window - think its the 5-6 ep if i remember correctly


Here's an attempt to put a list together of films that are either from the POV of a deaf character or have a moment where they go deaf.

This is under Community Wiki, so feel free to add to the list!

What we have so far:

  1. The Pianist
  2. Touch The Sound
  4. Come and See (Idi i smotri)
  5. Copland
  6. There Will Be Blood
  7. Sur Mes Lèvres (Read My Lips)
  8. Saving Private Ryan
  9. Babel
  10. It's All Gone Pete Tong
  11. Noise (by Mathew Saville)
  12. A quiet Place

Children of a Lesser God is a good place to start.

Evelyn Glennie has given some really interesting interviews and talks about her deafness and how she listens using her body. Her TED talk starts referring to this at about 08:00.



There's 11'09"01, a collection of eleven shorts from eleven international directors reflecting on events around 9/11. The French short was from the perspective of a mostly deaf Frenchwoman living in NYC. Her boyfriend heads to work at the WTC, leaving her at home where she works on writing a Dear John letter. If I remember correctly most of the film is silent, from her perspective; A T.V. over her shoulder displays news feeds from that day, but of course since she's deaf she doesn't notice. Near the end there's a bassy but quiet rumble, which she notices but then shrugs off.

I know of a second film... something to do with a cop who's losing his hearing and developing tinnitus. There's a few segments where his hearing drops out, unprovoked, and he's left with a loud ring in his ears,which then are our ears. Sadly I can't remember the title.


Last year I worked on a film called ''Anita'' where the main character survives a bomb explosion, and she gets confused by the blast. We used lots of LFE to achieve the sense of lost hearing...Eq'd and pitched-down car pass-bys for traffic, Whirling low whoshes for people passing by, etc...Also, tinnitus is always a good option. I remember layering some crystal glasses ''played'' with the fingertips (sort of an analog sine-wave generator) for these particular scene.


I know of a second film... something to do with a cop who's losing his hearing and developingg tinnitus Name of this film is "Noise" an Australian film


Highly recommend the wonderful design that was done for the little girl in "A Quiet Place".

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