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Sound Masters: Dances with Wolves


30 years ago today, Kevin Costner released his self-produced directorial debut film, Dances With Wolves.


The film was released to critical acclaim not only for Costner’s acting, but for its direction and production design as well. The movie was also the fourth-highest grossing film of 1990 and the highest-grossing film ever published by Orion Pictures. Nominated for a grand total of 12 Academy Awards, it went on to win 7—including Best Directing, Best Sound Mixing—and was the first western film to win Best Picture since 1931.


Dances with Wolves paid extra attention to the way it presented its subject matter, going as far as to use the native tongue of the Lakota—even though they accidentally used the female form! The sound and mixing team had to layer this dialogue with the ambiances of sweeping, windy plains and an incredible score that would also win an Oscar. Balancing so many rich sound elements at once undoubtedly made the mix difficult but also allowed the mixing team to shine through and be properly awarded for their work. A very happy 30th to this incredibly epic journey across the old west!


Now go make your own classic—and who knows, we could be celebrating its anniversary in 30 years. Download Audio Design Desk for free here.

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