Submarino Trailer

Posted on YouTube on 1 February 2010 by Nimbus Film

Auditory filmic space as a sphere, the audiovisual chord, and passive synthesis in Submarino by Thomas Vinterberg


Martine Huvenne

Life is a matter of form – that is the hypothesis we associate with the venerable philosophical and geometric term “sphere” […] the hypothesis that love stories are stories of form, and that every act to solidarity is an act of sphere formation, that is to say the creation of an interior. (Sloterdijk 2011: 10–12)


In Submarino (2010) by Thomas Vinterberg, the characters do not invite identification. Yet, their stories and situations are compelling. Rather than extending an invitation to follow and understand the story, this film invites its audience to live a (filmic) experience.

In this article I investigate the role that sound plays in transmitting this experience. In a less than conventional way, I begin with the auditory elements of the film and from film as an audiovisual composition in order to propose a phenomenological approach to film sound and the audiovisual perception of this film.

It is not within the scope of this essay to analyze the film as a whole. Rather, I would like to explore the way in which Vinterberg makes the audience feel the essence of his story through the compositional structure of the film. I refer to a tonal musical structure, investigating the compositional functionality of filmic elements. To develop this approach, I will focus on some film fragments and on three key concepts: the auditory filmic space, the audiovisual chord, and phenomenological concept of passive synthesis.



Submarino refers to Jonas T. Bengtsson’s novel by the same name (2007) and to the method of torture where someone’s head is held under water. In an interview Vinterberg explains that his film is about the ways in which two brothers struggle to reach the surface again in their lives. “Everyday life separates families. You start inside your mother, and there is always the longing back […] This story is about two brothers longing for each other but being separated by life” (Vinterberg 2010).

The film starts with two brothers, teenagers still, who are taking care of their baby brother. But after an evening spent drinking and dancing together at home, the eldest brother, Nick, discovers that the little baby has died. This horrific event will determine the brothers’ future.

Nick is in his own passive way constantly struggling to change his social heritance. He is constantly trying to get over his guilt. He is constantly trying to reach the surface […] Nick’s brother (also Martin’s father) has sort of given up already. He is addicted to heroin and is not capable of living real life. The only thing he has in life is being father of his child. That’s his only reason for living. That’s his only reason for existence. (Vinterberg 2010)

Vinterberg decided to tell this story very straightforwardly. The audience “moves” along with the characters and is moved by their situation. Rather than expressing or explaining emotions, Vinterberg evokes the emotions and counts on the capability of the spectators to experience what is happening within the character’s mind. Sound, dialogue, music, and silence guide the spectators through the lived world of the two brothers. The auditory aspect of the film supports the discovery of the different perspectives of certain situations and their coherence, which is important for understanding the story.

Broken sphere


The film begins with close-ups of small hands and feet, a baby’s hand whose fingers reach for a finger with a dirty fingernail; the hands are clasped. Two boys, Nick and his brother, are taking care of the baby, and there is a pleasant connectedness between them. We hear the baby’s sounds and the extremely kind voices of the two brothers.

There are no other sounds. The listener is immersed in this atmosphere of connectedness: two teenagers are taking care of their baby brother. They whisper words of endearment; they change his diaper, feed him, put him to bed. They are entirely focused on the child. Their world is the world of and with the baby.

This could be a perfect example of what the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk calls an intimate-acoustic sonosphere, in which vocal messages are exchanged “in a direct play of affection.” “Where are we if we are in the world?” is the question that Sloterdijk poses at the beginning of his Spherology. He introduces the concept of "sphere" as the interior space inhabited by humans. He states that living means always building spheres and living in spheres means creating the dimensions in which humans can be contained (Sloterdijk 2011: 28). Inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenology of the experienced space, Sloterdijk emphasizes the importance of resonance within a sphere: the intimate sphere possesses by no means a Euclydic or Parmedian structure. “The primitive mental orb, unlike the beautifully rounded philosophical one, does not have a center of its own that radiates and collects everything, but rather two epicenters that evoke each other through resonance” (Sloterdijk 2011: 99–100, emphasis added). Sloterdijk refers to the being together with the mother in the mother’s womb: a kind of auditory paradise in which the sounds of the heartbeat and the voice of the mother are experienced rather than heard. There is no outside world; sound is then a nobject, writes Sloterdijk, rather than an object.[1] Listening to music or to the mother’s voice evokes this state of being (Sloterdijk 2011: 296).

Applied to the beginning of Submarino, we might argue that Vinterberg invites his audience to share “the sphere of the brothers” by means of the sounds of the baby and the loving voices of the boys. In resonance with the characters, the audience is able to enter the auditory (invisible) space between the brothers, being auditorily immersed and penetrated by the film sounds that invade their bodies. As a result of this approach, it can be said that the mother does not enter the brothers’ “bubble.” When she opens the door of the house, the gentle intimate sphere is broken by more aggressive sounds. She stumbles towards the kitchen to find her dose of Vermouth. The baby can be heard from a distance, from another room. Both worlds are clearly separate: the world of the alcoholic mother who is behaving unworthily and the connectedness of the brothers. This is the first “dissonance” in the situation: there is no connection between the brothers and their mother. The mother is in no way part of the brothers’ loving world. This is given form by superimposing two worlds that do not harmonize: the sounds of the mother are related to what is happening on screen and not to the auditory sphere created through the agency of the voices of the baby and the boys.

Despite the distance the boys take from their mother, their condition seems hereditary: the elder son Nick is already a chain smoker and an enthusiastic drinker who shares his mother’s bottle. His younger brother, whose name remains unmentioned, joins in the drinking sprees. The brothers cannot shed the passed-on addiction that drags them beneath life’s surface.

Vinterberg composes the filmic elements of image, sound, dialogue, and music in such a way that he invites his audience to feel the situation rather than interpret the story. He prepares the audience so that they are able to withstand the tension between the peaceful state of being that the brothers experience when they are in their “bubble” and the extreme experience of longing to regain this state throughout the film.

All this is never explicitly expressed, yet the audience encounters this through, amongst other things, the use of music and sound that connect different scenes. When a close-up of Nick, the elder brother who is smoking, appears, the music starts. This also introduces the “house party” the brothers are having, drinking their mother’s Vermouth. It is this music that smothers the sounds the baby is making. At first we still hear the baby’s voice crying out, but as the music grows increasingly louder, the baby’s voice seems to be masked. The sound shifts the focus to the party with the boys and away from the fact that the baby’s voice has fallen silent. In the audience’s perception the “brothers’ bubble” still exists.

When Nick wakes up late the next day, no cries of the baby can be perceived. When he checks on the little boy in his bed, he finds him dead. Several times Nick heartbreakingly cries out: “Nej!” This is a turning point, the sound working as a hinge, a point on which the characters’ adult lives depend, which will resonate through the entire film. Viewed from Sloterdijk’s spherology, this is the moment the bubble bursts, and the brothers will be longing to regain that bubble for the rest of their lives. Before the brothers’ bubble bursts, the two boys have given their baby brother a name. This “naming” scene is cut before the audience can actually hear the name being voiced and will only be completed at the end of the film when Nick, the eldest brother, recounts the story of the origin of his name to Martin, the son of his brother (“Martin’s father”). The boys had named their brother “Martin.”

The final scene of the film refers back to the beginning. At that point Nick attends, together with Martin, the funeral of his father. For a moment it seems as if the bubble is reinstalled. Striking in the film is the fact that the time structure is mixed up. What is of importance is not the linear structure, but the various events and incidents that occur in the course of time: the happy times the brothers experienced together; the terrible death of the baby and Nick’s fierce reaction; Nick’s ensuing loneliness, his caring for others, and his attempts to contact his brother; Martin’s father’s addiction and his loving hanging out with his son; the brothers re-establishing contact after the death of their mother, their meeting in prison; and, ultimately, Nick and Martin’s encounters at their, respective, brother’s and father’s funeral.

The various events are interwoven in a time field rather than an easily traceable timeline. A familiarity with the perspectives of the characters is established, and thus the impact of the events becomes clear. Important is that the auditory space is constituted to support a certain transmission of the lived world of the characters rather than to support what is seen on screen.


[1] Sloterdijk refers to the cultural philosopher and media anthropologist Thomas Macho when he uses the term nobject: objects that are not objects because they have no subject-like counterpart are referred to by Macho as “nobjects” (Sloterdijk 2011:294).

A relational view on auditory space

The idea that the auditory space is constituted to support the transmission of the lived world of the characters needs some explanation. I refer to the concept of space as proposed by the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty:

Space is not the setting (real or logical) in which things are arranged, but the means whereby the position of things becomes possible. This means that instead of imagining it as a sort of ether in which all things float, or conceiving it abstractly as a characteristic that they have in common, we must think of it as the universal power enabling them to be connected. (Merleau-Ponty 2002: 284)

From a different perspective, anthropologist Georgina Born, in the introduction to her book Music, Sound and Space (2013), proposes a contemporary geography to theorize space in music and sound with an emphasis on a relational view of space, rather than space viewed as a container within which the world proceeds. She links this geographical turn to the non-representational theory of Derek McCormack’s writings on dance. McCormack’s intention is to supersede representational models by cultivating corporeal and affective understandings of spatial experience (Born 2015: 21).

Music and sound are particularly fertile conduits for spatial experience in that they have the capacity both to compound and to orchestrate in novel and affective ways the spatial affordances of social life writ large. (Born 2015: 24)

This brings us to the properties of the auditory space that are able to transmit this relational view of space and to a phenomenological approach to the auditory space. The question then is: How is an auditory space constituted? And also: Which role does the auditory space play in film in transmitting the lived world of a character?

A phenomenological approach to the auditory (filmic) space


Existing phenomenological approaches to sound and listening can be found in the Traité des objets musicaux (1966) by Pierre Schaeffer, connected with Husserl’s (static) phenomenology; in Don Ihde’s Voice and listening, phenomenologies of sound ([1976] 2007), an introduction to the particular characteristics of listening as distinct from viewing; and in The Experiencing of Musical Sound by Joseph Smith (1979), a phenomenological approach to music that combines Husserl’s genetic phenomenology and Merleau-Ponty’s embodied phenomenological approach.

In phenomenology, perception is an intentional act that provokes the constitution of the intentional object. Applied to listening and sound, this means that the act and the object are correlated and that listening as an intentional act provokes results that can be dissimilar to the extent that the listening acts differ. Different listening strategies can be: listening to the meaning of a sound, listening to the source of a sound in combination with the act of producing the sound, or listening to the position of a sound in space.

Also an embodied resonating listening to a sound without attending to the meaning or the source of the sound can be added to this list. Differing terminology can be found that describe this kind of listening in which the audience is surrounded and immersed by sound (Ihde 2007: 76). Roland Barthes, for example, defines “panic listening” as a form of open listening that does not focus on the source or the meaning of a sound (Barthes 1976). Claire Petitmengin makes the distinction between listening to the source, listening to a sound object, and the felt sound. The felt sound then is perceived as the bodily resonance of sound synchronizing between inner and outer space (Petitmengin et al. 2009). Following Edmund Husserl’s and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, I propose to speak of a felt sound correlated with an embodied (resonating) and pre-reflective listening (Huvenne 2012). With this embodied pre-reflective listening I also refer to Joseph Smith’s book, a musical phenomenology based on the “body subject” of Merleau-Ponty.

To make the notion of different listening strategies clearer, I present an experience with a complex sound that was recorded in the corridor of The School of Arts, Ghent.

Sound recorded by Griet Van Reeth in the context of Coor(ps) donné, a research project on the usage of sound in film. Sint-Lukas Brussels (2008–2010)

Walking down the stairs in the school building with my colleague, we were struck by the interesting mix of sounds, music, and voices. We stayed in one single position to record this multitude of sounds, and we were presented with a composition as “a whole,” even if in reality some sounds were coming from different spaces. Although the first impression of this “sound composition” was very “musical,” different choices could be made in the act of listening to this complex recorded sound material:

  • We can listen to this sound recording in such a way that the performed musical scale becomes the backbone for this “time composition.”
  • We can listen to it while focusing on the voices and the distances created by some sounds. (Even if we cannot hear in this sound recording that certain sound events were occurring in different rooms, there is still a notion of space that situates some sounds as being nearby and others as occurring further away.)
  • We can listen to the reverberating space, in itself sounding.
  • We can try to understand what is happening in the different rooms, e.g. trying to understand what is said in the utterances coming from a theatre piece being rehearsed.

In other words, the use of different listening strategies (intentional acts) evokes, correspondingly, as many different intentional objects: the source of sound, the position of the sounds in space, the acoustics of the hall, the meaning of the words shouted in the theatre piece, etc.

This is different from listening to the whole, with the musical scale as backbone of this sound composition. Adopting this latter listening strategy, we become more completely surrounded and immersed in the totality of the sounds, without trying to understand what is happening or without listening for the sources of the sounds.

As part of a research project, we placed the recorded complex sound within an audiovisual context.

Excerpt from the film Surrounded (2010) by Martine Huvenne and Griet van Reeth, made in the context of Coor(ps) donné, a research project on the usage of sound in film. Sint-Lukas Brussels (2008-2010)

Through the addition of images, our listening strategy becomes more defined: while we follow the biking lady, we link the sounds to her character, and after a cut that presents the image of another woman, the memory of a dialogue is suggested. In other words, we try to understand what is happening by bringing sound and image together; we try to situate the lady in a multitude of sounds, and to give the sounds a meaning in connection with what is visually presented.

An allocation of auditory spaces is immediately made: some sounds (those that do not occur in the physical space of the woman) are situated “in the mind of the character.” They create a lived space, an invisible memory or thought experienced through sound. Other sounds integrate well within the filmic visual space. What happens is that we, as audience, immediately try to combine the visual and auditory space, creating inner and outer auditory spaces. Film sound theorist Michel Chion refers to this when he states that in cinema the notion of the auditory field is entirely a function of what appears on screen. For Chion there is no autonomous auditory field: “Its real and imaginary dimensions are created in collaboration with the image; and at the same time sound is always overflowing and transgressing it. It is in this double movement that film sound operates” (Chion 2009: 249). However, I would like to expand on Chion’s quote by referring to the auditory field and add to this quote the question of whether there is actually an autonomous visual field in audiovisual perception. Both function independently as well as in relation to each other. Is it not the audience that brings sound and image together to create an experience of space? In other words, in audio-visual perception, the visual is as much a function of the sound as the sound is a function of the image. The real and imaginary dimensions of what appears on screen are also created in collaboration with the sound overflowing and transgressing the borders of the screen. Merleau-Ponty describes this as a passive synthesis that brings sensory experiences together into a single world (Merleau-Ponty 2002: 268). It is not the image that is at the center of perception, but the body of the perceiver.

The senses translate each other without any need of an interpreter, and are mutually comprehensible without the intervention of any idea […] My body is the seat or rather the very actuality of the phenomenon of expression (Ausdruck), and there the visual and auditory experiences, for example, are pregnant one with the other, and their expressive value is the ground of the antepredicative unity of the perceived world, and, through it, of verbal expression (Darstellung) and intellectual significance (Bedeutung). (Merleau-Ponty 2002: 273)

While listening, the listener is always at the center of his perception. The field-shape of sound is omnidirectional (spheric), although it can be directional as well (Ihde 2007: 75–7). It is possible to listen to a sound emerging from somewhere in space even when the listener is in the middle of his listening act.

With Merleau-Ponty, the resonating body, situated at the center of an embodied listening, comes into account. He distinguishes between the position and the situation of a perceiver:

The word ‘here’ applied to my body does not refer to a determinate position in relation to other positions or to external coordinates, but the laying down of the first coordinates, the anchoring of the active body in an object, the situation of the body in face of its tasks. (Merleau-Ponty 2002: 115)

This includes also the notion of the first person perspective: the situatedness of the perceiver always begins from her perspective as first person.

I return to Submarino. Vinterberg wanted to tell the story straightforwardly, without offering too many explanations. He puts his characters at the center of their lived world, one with the other: first Nick, later on Martin’s father. Some moments in the film are shot from both perspectives, once from the perspective of Nick, once from the perspective of Martin’s father. This results in the repetition of filmic elements (sounds, images, music, words) combined or superimposed in a different way because of the different perspectives.

The audiovisual chord as a tool to compose different experienced spaces and situations in one single moment


When the adult Nick wakes up, the scene starts with the screams of Nick as a child, far away. This moment suggests that the death of the baby and the consequent bursting of the brothers’ bubble lies beneath this scene. In fact, nothing is happening here: we hear Nick breathing and smoking. Exterior sounds of traffic in the street resonate far away from the room where Nick is sitting. We sense a tension. The lived space is not just a here and now, but a presently lived space teeming with the past.

Later on Nick tries to call his brother from a telephone booth. Different auditory spaces can be distinguished: the surrounding street sounds (mainly cars), the sounds produced by Nick’s gestures, the dialing of the phone number, his breathing, and the rustle of his clothes. But it is clear that none of these sounds attracts Nick’s attention. Speechlessly he listens to his brother’s voice uttering several times the word “Hello.” Some children’s voices are sounding on the other side of the line. He cannot reply. The street sounds diminish for a moment. Music enters the scene. Nick hangs up and in a fit of rage hits the phone booth, smashing the booth and mangling his hand.

Everything can be heard perfectly here; the scene can be analyzed as a superimposition of different auditory spaces in combination with the images on screen. The setting of the street, Nick’s loneliness, the “face-to-face” auditory aura between the brothers,[2] the music - which refers to the moment the safe bubble they shared burst - and as a new element, the children’s voices. The experience of the combined elements is clear through Nick’s reaction. No explanation is required: the scene provides all the ingredients it needs in order for the observer to feel with Nick.

The audience not only hears the different layers, but is confronted with different layers in their film experience: they listen together with Nick making his telephone call, but they are also exposed to other sounds and music; perhaps without really noticing, they experience other scenes shadowing this scene.

I would like to compare this to a chord in tonal music. A chord consists of different tones sounding simultaneously; each tone has a function not only in the chord itself, but also in the totality of the composition. Some of the tones in the chord are more important than others. Within tonal music a dissonant chord provokes tension regardless of whether the listener is consciously focusing on the music or not.

A chord has a ground tone, and tonality creates both a musical space and a direction in this space that gravitates toward this fundamental. I will refer later to the way the audience may move with the music and may be moved by the tensions created within music, often without reflecting about what is happening. At this moment I would like to focus on the constellation of what I call "the audio-visual chord," constituted from various viewing and listening perspectives and enabling the description of two different temporal dimensions: that of linear, successive time and that of the polychronic moment. This means that time is no longer regarded as linear, but becoming a field in which different “times” occur at the same moment.

Instead of defining the relation between the points of audition and the points of view in reference to what is happening on screen (Lissa 1966; Chion 1994), the body of the spectator/listener is at the center. This follows the phenomenological film approach of Vivian Sobchack. She describes film experience as a system of communication based on bodily perception which acts as a vehicle of conscious expression (Sobchack 1992: 9).

In fact, when listening from the point-of-audition (Altman 1992) of a character in a film, we are applying two different listening perspectives at the same time: a third person perspective and a first person perspective. The point-of-audition, a listening with the characters, following their attention, is for the spectator/listener a third person perspective.

Instead of giving us the freedom to move about the film’s space at will, this technique locates us in a very specific place – the body of the character who hears for us. Point-of-audition sound thus constitutes the perfect interpellation, for it inserts us into the narrative at the very intersection of two spaces which the image alone is incapable of linking, thus giving us the sensation of controlling the relationship between those spaces. (Altman 1992: 60)

But at the same time, the spectator/listener continues to listen from a proper first person perspective, which means that she is also anchored in the film in a very fundamental way and can even hear what the character in the film cannot hear.

In the previously mentioned fragment with Nick as main character, Nick’s listening is focused on the voice of his brother and the children’s voices in the background. But the audience is also hearing the environmental sounds and the sounds of his gestures. By switching the balance between the different sound layers, it is possible to create a moment of “silence” and focus on Nick’s inhibition to speak.

The same phone call is presented from the opposing perspective of Martin’s father, with a different impact on the audience. The scene opens with Martin introducing his father to the kindergarten teacher. They have just told her that Martin’s mother passed away some years ago in an accident. Later, while kids are running down the stairs, full of joy and liveliness, Martin’s father answers “a call.” He cannot see who the caller is and answers, but when there is no response, he disconnects the call. Even when the audience realizes that it is the same call it witnessed at the beginning of the film, this time from another perspective, the impact of the scene is totally different. Neither Nick’s loneliness nor the drama at the beginning of the film is conveyed in this scene. The phone call is first presented from the first person perspective of Nick and, later on, from the first person perspective of Martin’s father. As already mentioned, although it concerns the same “moment” in the film, with auditorily nearly the same elements, it may be experienced differently due to the different first person perspectives of the characters. In this series of shots, the images reveal the different situations of the brothers. The images are not connected, as their worlds seem no longer connected. However, both scenes are strongly connected through the spoken words and the music, referring to the diegetic house party music sounding before the brothers’ bubble has burst. In terms of Sloterdijk’s spherology, the situation of Nick can be interpreted as a longing for the original intimate sphere he experienced with his brother and his frustration of being unable to rebuild a similar sphere in his life.

The question, then, is how the audience manages to “understand” this complexity of different filmic elements and different perspectives when the relationship between the brothers is not directly causally presented and time is no longer linear.


[2] “In the face-to-face speaking the other is there, embodied, while exceeding his outlined body, but the other is in my focus as there before me face to face. It is in his speaking that he fills the space between us and by it I am auditorily immersed and penetrated as sound ‘physically’ invades my own body” (Ihde 2007: 79).

The filmic elements find their unity in a passive synthesis


I would like to come back to the listening strategies and the difference between an act of listening to something and an immersed listening act which is in itself sufficient (see above). With the sounds of the baby and the gentle voices of the boys that make up the brothers’ bubble as the “fundamental,” as “the keynote” of the film, it is possible for the audience to experience the tension through “dissonances,” such as the sounds that relate to the mother and her reality, or the music that is introduced when close-ups of Nick appear, referring to the bursting of the bubble and the addiction of the boys.

By resonating with the sounds, the voices, the silences, and the music alluding to different experiences of the characters as well as different times and different spaces, we can “sense” the tension: the complex constellation of different points of audition is in the first place experienced by the spectator/listener before constituting a reflective perception or a meaning. We are aware of our own experiences in an immediate, pre-reflective, and non-objectifying manner (Zahavi 2010: 334–6). This needs some explanation. When I introduced phenomenology, I mentioned that the intentional object is constituted in an intentional act. With the given example of the recorded sound in the corridor of the School of Arts in Ghent, I made clear that when following different listening strategies (that is, different intentional acts), different intentional objects are constituted from the same sound event. However, I also introduced a kind of listening with the emphasis on the intentional act itself rather than on the constitution of an intentional object. As listeners we are then aware of the sounds, the music, or the dialogues, without reflecting on them. But even if this kind of listening is not directed towards an intentional object, it doesn’t mean that the listener passively undergoes a chaos of vibrations. She still pre-reflectively makes “choices” in her listening. Here the concepts of the experience of the intentional act and pre-reflective kinesthetic experience come into account.

Prior to reflection, one experiences the intentional act, which is triggered by a pre-reflective kinesthetic experience. Reflection is characterized by disclosing, not by producing its theme. (Zahavi 2010: 325–7)

The pre-reflective kinesthetic experiences are characterized by a bodily (Merleau-Ponty calls it "operative") intentionality, an intentionality that can be regarded as affective. The act of listening without the constitution of an intentional object can be considered as a "passive activity." Merleau-Ponty describes passivity as “being encompassed, being in a situation which is constitutive of us,” rather than as a causal action exerted upon us from outside (Merleau-Ponty 2002: 496). An “operative intentionality” is at work before the act-intentionality, constituting intentional objects. The passive synthesis is not a construct.

For Merleau-Ponty the world is the primordial unity of all our experiences instead of a visible unfolding of constituting thought. Time then is no longer a real process or an actual succession but arises from the relation to things. It is in this way that the concept of passive synthesis has to be understood: “We make our way into multiplicity, but we do not synthesize it” (Merleau-Ponty 2002: 496).

Returning to Submarino and the question about the role of sounds and music in the transmission of an experience, the concept of the passive synthesis enables a new approach. The audience is able to move with the characters and to experience their world because it is not just looking at the film. Within the audiovisual perception, the role of sound and music is as important as the images. In accordance with Merleau-Ponty, the resonating body at the center of an embodied listening to sound and music comes into account.[3] Even if there is no linear time, the audience is propelled through the lived world of the brothers: their being together, their loneliness, their inability to come “to the surface,” their intense love for each other and for little Martin, their longing for each other, and at the end, the “reprise” of the first theme in the film: the baptizing of their baby-brother, bestowing him the name of “Martin.”

Sound, dialogue, and music enable the audience to connect different events in a polychronic way. Moving with the characters and with their experiences, a unity is achieved through passive synthesis. This can be interpreted as an approach of film as an audiovisual composition that effects the transmission of experience.


[3] Because of the topic of this article, I put the emphasis on sound and music. But of course, in a phenomenological approach the audience resonates also with the moving images. See also Vivian Sobchack’s The Address of the Eye: a Phenomenology of Film Experience (1992).



In this essay I examined the contribution of the auditory aspects of a filmic experience of Thomas Vinterberg's Submarino. By comparing filmic experience with tonal music, in which tensions are created in relation to the fundamental, I defined “the basic note" of the film (the brothers’ bubble) as an “auditory lived space,” using Sloterdijk’s spherology. This enabled me to clarify how the audience is moved by and moving with the characters (Nick and his brother), who are struggling to resurface.

With the concept of the audiovisual chord as an analytical tool, sound and image are brought onto the same level in relation to or in function of the lived space of the characters and the audiovisual perception of the audience. Without offering scenic causalities between the events, through the superimposition and repetition of sound, music, dialogues, and images, the lived experience of the two brothers is transmitted.

Experientially, the spectator/listener is anchored in the film. Even without reflecting on what is occurring or analyzing the relationships between the different filmic elements, the lived experience of the characters is transmitted as a synthetic unity.



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