Nevena Semova Semova

Abstract

This thesis develops the concept of the non-existent acousmêtre by studying the theories of acousmatic listening, off-screen space and noniconogenic narration as defined by Michel Chion. The term borrowed from Chion’s concept of the acousmêtre relates to the presence of an inaudible yet imagined acousmatic voice situated in the off-screen space that has the capacity to influence the narrative, the protagonist and the viewer. While there is little research on the role of imagination in creating an engaging experience through unseen and unheard characters in film, the analysis borrows from the studies of imaginative processes by Murray Smith and Robert Sinnerbrink to contextualise the imaginative capacity of the non-existent acousmêtre. In order to exemplify the latter, The Human Voice, a play written by Jean Cocteau (1930) and adapted to film by many, including Pedro Almodóvar in 2021, is studied. The Human Voice follows a single character of the Woman as she is having the last phone conversation with her ex.

The Man who the audience never hears is an example of a non-existent acousmêtre. The assumption that the character of the Man is a subtle but key factor in building an engaging viewing experience in Almodóvar’s The Human Voice stipulates a review of the factors that indicate the non-existent acousmêtre’s presence in the absence and situate him in the off-screen space. The analysis refers to these factors in order to provide evidence that proves that imagination processes intensify the power of the non-existent acousmêtre and make him instrumental in building engagement with the narrative, the protagonist and the viewer.

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