2008 marked a special event in film: It was the first time a female director won Best Picture. Katherine Bigalow’s war-thriller The Hurt Locker is about bombs that could go off at any moment, so it needed to reach Hitchcock levels of anxiety. Accomplishing this was an especially complex task for the sound team, as the shots themselves were paced very slow. Extensive use of sound design was needed to pulse and drive each shot to maintain momentum through the film, with risers and hits leading up to and witnessing large explosions. This also created a challenge for the mixers, who needed to balance well-placed foley and silence with incredibly jarring and loud explosions. Today, we take a look at a scene that perfectly captures all of these elements. Listen to how the sound generates all the scene’s tension, and try comparing with the scene on mute.
Over a decade later, we still celebrate the sound team and Katherine Bigalow for their incredible accomplishments with The Hurt Locker. Now make your own legendary sound design!