Paul Thomas Anderson Turns Up the Volume
How the vaunted director makes your skin tingle with sound.
Paul Thomas Anderson uses sound design to complement his expansive visual style. His close-ups are underscored by full-bodied foley and his masters often echo. When a sound is isolated, it’s either played for humor—a croaking frog, tumbling down from the sky in Magnolia—or tension—a wheezing Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will be Blood. Sometimes, the two are combined.
Thirty minutes into Phantom Thread, during a family breakfast scene, Vicky Krieps begins to butter her toast and it’s clear that no amount of her trying would make the noise of the knife scraping across the bread any quieter. The sound cuts through the room and prickles the ears of the characters and audience members alike. It says a lot about the characters in the scene and their relationship to one another—more than any amount of dialogue could accomplish so elegantly.
Can’t get enough Paul Thomas Anderson? Good, neither can we! Check out our video on how the esteemed director uses movies within movies. And after that, go on a color exploration of one of our favorite movies of his, Boogie Nights. And finally, complete your journey through Anderson's films with our article on Finding Self-worth in Punch-Drunk Love.