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Understanding Sound Tracks Through Film Theory

Elsie Walker

Publication Date - 03 March 2015

ISBN: 9780199896301

450 pages
7 x 10 inches

Breaks new ground by redirecting the arguments of foundational texts within film theory to film sound tracks.


Understanding Sound Tracks Through Film Theory breaks new ground by redirecting the arguments of foundational texts within film theory to film sound tracks. Walker includes sustained analyses of particular films according to a range of theoretical approaches: psychoanalysis, feminism, genre studies, post-colonialism, and queer theory. The films come from disparate temporal and industrial contexts: from Classical Hollywood Gothic melodrama (Rebecca) to contemporary, critically-acclaimed science fiction (Gravity). Along with sound tracks from canonical American films including The Searchers and To Have and Have Not, Walker analyzes independent Australasian films: examples include Heavenly Creatures, a New Zealand film that uses music to empower its queer female protagonists; and Ten Canoes, the first Australian feature film with a script entirely in Aboriginal languages. Understanding Sound Tracks Through Film Theory thus not only calls new attention to the significance of sound tracks, but also focuses on the sonic power of characters representing those whose voices have all too often been drowned out.

Understanding Sound Tracks Through Film Theory is both rigorous and accessible to all students and scholars with a grasp of cinematic and musical structures. Moreover, the book brings together film studies, musicology, history, politics, and culture and therefore resonates across the liberal arts.


  • Covers such a broad range of theoretical approaches to sound tracks for a general scholarly audience
  • Emphasizes transferable skills of close aural analysis
  • Deals with an exceptionally broad range of films
  • Includes a glossary of terms
  • Features over a hundred film stills that enliven the reading experience

About the Author(s)

Elsie Walker is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Salisbury University, Maryland. She has taught film in three countries (New Zealand and England, as well as the United States) and she has published many articles on film, sound tracks, and adaptations of Shakespeare. She co-edited Conversations With Directors (2008), and she is coeditor-in-chief of Literature/Film Quarterly.


"Elsie Walker's multifaceted approach in Understanding Sound Tracks Through Film Theory provides a rich, strategic bridging of musicology to the venerable and varied tenets of film theory. Rigorously researched, it is pioneering inquiry, crowned by a bevy of stimulating analyses." --Ron Sadoff, Director, NYU Steinhardt Film Music and co-founder, Music and the Moving Image

"Deftly negotiating the territory between introducing theoretical concepts and developing nuanced analyses, Walker's approach is ideally suited to engaging those new to considering how profoundly music and sound influence the experience of cinema." --Robynn J. Stilwell, Georgetown University

"Walker's writing style is accessible, so anyone interested...will find this study engaging and illuminating...This expertly researched book is a must read for those interested in film studies."--Choice

Table of Contents

    General Introduction
    Part One: Genre Studies
    Part Two: Postcolonialism
    Part Three: Feminism
    Part Four: Psychoanalysis
    Part Five: Queer Theory
    Select Filmography
    Further Perceiving
    Select Glossary