I'm starting to sketch out some ideas for my dissertation and as the title suggests I want to focus on the use of layers of diagetic sound to show temporal ambiguity I'm film. I will be using films as a case study on this, at the moment I'm looking at Martha Marcy May Marlene, upstream colour, blue jasmine and eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. I was wondering if anyone has any other suggestions that I've overlooked?

Many thanks, you lot on social sound design are all awesome for providing such an incredible wealth of knowledge for us up and coming you guns! Tom

  • Thanks for such a quick response! Its for a postgraduate degree and i was also wondering if my concentration on purely dramas is too concise and leaves little room for comparative analyses, after all, as with sound design itself its the juxtaposition of ideas that makes them stand out! Thanks for the suggestions, I'm hesitant to go with inception as i wasn't actually a huge fan of the soundtrack as a whole, but ill definitely check out some of the other examples.
    – user7650
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 11:23
  • If it is PG I would expect to at least see some consideration other genres and your analysis and evaluation will be key. (Having said that do make sure that you talk to your own tutors about this matter.) Also what did you not like about Inception? Again at PG level I'd be expecting to see consideration of examples that you think work, but also examples that you think don't work. This will help to give you the contrast required. P.S. your response would have been better as a comment rather than an answer. Maybe one of the moderators will change it :)
    – Bit Depth
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 11:51
  • 1
    could you point out some specific scenes in each one of these works? i've seen three of them, upstream colour and essm would have a lot of ambiguity to write about ;)
    – georgi
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


Sounds like a great idea. Is this work undergrad or postgrad? Sadly I've not seen any of the films you are suggesting (I really need to catch up on viewing). However, one thing that jumps out at me is these films are all dramas. Is this what you are going for i.e. is the title of you dissertation going to be "Layers of diagetic sound showing Temporal ambiguity in film dramas" or do you think that you may need to consider other genres? Say action, chillers, rom com, horror, etc?

Some other films to look at in this wider context, that maybe more literal, but nonetheless do contain temporal ambiguity: Premonition, Source Code, Deja Vu, Looper, Inception, etc.

If nothing else these would give you some good comparisons, which would be good to see in a dissertation.

  • I'm not sure if "Inception" qualifies. Isn't it more a local than a temporal ambiguity? Time just happens to run in different speeds at those different places/worlds/dreams...
    – Sebastian
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 12:32
  • Is that not the ultimate temporal ambiguity?
    – Bit Depth
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 12:43

Isn't the famous long telephone ring in "Once Upon A Time In America" a temporal ambiguity while being a diagetic layered sound?

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