watching ‘The Conversation’ 1974 & listening to the film
It’s fascinating to watch it with a more dispassionate eye. One thing that is unusual, is the ground-breaking collaboration between a director and a sound designer. Gene Phillips’ well-researched and beautifully written book on Coppola has an interesting introduction by this fascinating sound man, Walter Murch, who explored utilizing sound – at times – where it tells more than the vision or what the eye can see. It’s a new use of sound that I don’t think has been attempted before this film. Even though the film narrative is conventional the film’s sound narrative is avant-garde.
In a post-Watergate era, the idea of people spying on other people, whether it is explicit or implicit, or through deception, is brilliantly explored. It can be a person in the park, maybe a mime doing street theatre, or a priest listening to your confession, or a woman who comes back to your place for a few drinks, or someone who has hired you to follow someone, or recording someone on your phone, or eaves-dropping another person’s conversation, or watching the surveillance cameras in a store. What in 1974 was an interesting indictment about the lack of privacy and the growing scrutiny of everyone, and how a President could spy on himself and ultimately be the very hand of his own downfall, is rampant these days.
© Philip Powers 2017