Raging Bull (1980)
Raging Bull got Robert De Niro his only Oscar win in a leading role. His portrayal of real-life boxer Jake Lamotta - for which he famously gained 60 pounds (27kg) in the space of four months - is often described as one of the best performances of all time, and rightly so.
Hollywood sound effects legend Frank Warner was in charge of the soundtrack on this one. He used a plethora of powerful sound recordings such as animal screams interspersed in the fight scenes, gun shots instead of camera flashes, random bass drums, and a good dose of (here it is again) silence, to give the story all its emotional depth. Frank then went on to destroy, as he always did, all his original recordings as a form of respect towards the film and towards his work, so that he wouldn't re-use material on future projects. A bold resolution for a bold film about a bold character.
Animated films are ideal grounds for sound to flourish, and science fiction is the perfect genre for cool sound design. Sound wizard Ben Burtt had just finished working on Star Wars III and famously told his family he would never do another robots movie again, but the opportunity to be involved early in pre-production is so rare in sound that he couldn't resist the temptation. He was hired by Pixar as their first ever in-house sound designer and worked on Wall-E over a span of three years.
The main characters voices alone took a solid nine months to create. Burtt would develop his sonic ideas and run them periodically by director Andrew Stanton. Each sound was discussed and refined as the animation took shape. He ended up creating 2600 new sounds - that's two and a half times more than your average Star Wars movie, to give you an idea of the task at hand.
Wall-E is a gem for film sound lovers in many ways. Our favourite fact is that for the first 30 minutes, the story is driven by sound and some music. The first machine to machine conversation occurs at 22 minutes and the first human dialogue at a staggering 39 minutes. A real treat for the senses.
Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003)
Quite possibly our all-time favourite, and one that has virtually no dialogue. The Triplettes of Belleville (as it is known in English) tells the story of Madame Souza and her dog Bruno, as they team up with the Belleville Sisters trio to rescue her grandson Champion, who has been kidnapped by a criminal gang during a mountain stage of the Tour de France.
In The Triplettes all is communicated through sound. Every squeak, creak, grunt, bark and wonky mechanism has been carefully selected and musically arranged in the audio visual canvas by director Sylvain Chomet and his sound team. So much that one of the best musical moments is in fact a piece entirely made from sounds; when Mme Souza and the Triplettes play at a club in New York using a newspaper, a fridge, a hoover and the spokes of a wheel to create a really funky tune. It is precisely the lack of dialogues that makes this film so enjoyable and immersive.
Your senses are constantly involved in reading the messages and following the story. Added to this is the beautifully imperfect style of the animation. All in all a very engaging surrealist film that you'll remember forever.