Darius Marder's Sound Of Metal and Accessible Cinema
30 May 2021
The first film in our reopening programme is Darius Marder's directorial debut, Sound Of Metal.
A profound narrative about deafness and deaf identity; the BAFTA-winning Sound Of Metal is an immersive cinematic experience driven by a visceral soundscape and rich performances from Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke. Darius Marder’s directorial debut follows the first-person perspective of heavy metal drummer, Ruben (Ahmed), whose hearing suddenly begins to deteriorate. After four years of sobriety, girlfriend and bandmate Lou (Cooke) fears that Ruben will relapse as he begins to struggle with the reality of his permanent hearing loss. Ruben and Lou leave in their ramshackle caravan to seek help at a rural recovery facility for Deaf addicts. The film’s entwining of senses and perspective creates a new kind of audience participation, with sound design acting as a vehicle for the film’s thematic delivery. Sound of Metal’s interaction between pacing and audio enables both Ruben and the audience to find stillness in silence.
This story portrays a unique perspective of deafness, Deaf culture, and the spectrum of deaf identity, embodying a breakthrough in d/Deaf representation on the silver screen, both in storytelling and access. Sound of Metal is shown with open captions; an executive decision that signifies the importance of accessible cinema for the communities whose stories are being told. Sound of Metal isn’t afraid to explore the nuances of deafness and adaptation, and the film’s authentic feel is borne out of the consultation and inclusion of Deaf talent. Sound of Metal symbolises a pivotal moment for on-screen Deaf representation.
The film’s substance is a direct result of genuine research and consultation. Marder worked intimately with Deaf people, hard of hearing people, and CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) both before and during filming, creating a rich and authentic atmosphere for scenes that highlight Deaf culture. A large portion of the cast are Deaf actors. Before filming, Ahmed learnt American Sign Language by working closely with the Brooklyn Deaf community, wearing custom devices in his ears to simulate progressive deafness. He also spent four months learning the drums and delivers one of this year’s most nuanced and powerful performances.
Charlotte Little is a hard of hearing and visually impaired film journalist and access consultant, with a passion for accessible cinema and disability representation within film. You can find out more about her writing and access consultancy through her website: www.captaincaptions.com
You can access audio-only programme notes HERE.