Lies, Damned Lies and Acoustics: Examining Aural Modality in Animated Documentary Cinema

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The growing presence of animation in documentary cinema signifies a social acceptance of experimental approaches towards the communication of ‘truth’. In contrast, global calls for a re-examination of accuracy in our media-saturated era of ‘post-truth’ and disinformation sit in opposition to such postmodern developments. Leo Murray suggests that “Animated  documentaries use real life audio interview material as the basis for an animated film” (2019:129), encouraging the perception that if the images appear artificial, the sound must be ‘real’. This paper will challenge this definition by examining notions of authenticity in animated documentary sound. It will adopt a multimodality framework (Kress & Van Leeuwen) to assess the aural representation of reality and interrogate the wider role of sound in documentary cinema.

Through analysis of Ari Folman’s feature-length animated documentary Waltz with Bashir (2008), the paper will question whether a reduced visual modality places greater pressure on the soundtrack to represent reality. It will assess sound’s ability to hide discontinuity, recontextualise source material and deceive audiences with greater ease than its visual counterpart.

The visual hybridity of animated documentary offers freedom in visual expression. This paper will question whether screen sound is in need of these same authorial freedoms to fully realise the creative scope of the craft and challenge the over reliance on the soundtrack to operate as a tool for confirming authenticity. A further aim will be to identify creative limitations placed on sound designers in a supposed greater service of high modality, fidelity and conformity to dominant Hollywood approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 17 Jun 2021
EventSound on Screen: Online Conference - Oxford Brookes University [ONLINE], Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Jun 202118 Jun 2021


ConferenceSound on Screen
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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