When is Non-Diegetic Sound Actually Diegetic?

In my American Film Industry class, we voted on what film we would screen for our discussion of New Hollywood, or what I call “The American New Wave.” The class voted, among a list of six films, for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Martin Scorcese, 1974).

Aside from talking about the cinematography in the film, I mentioned that the use of sound in the film is quite innovative, especially how the film blurred the boundary between diegetic and non-diegetic sound. You can see the mixing of the two in the clip below.

Alice’s cry functions as a sound bridge between her on the telephone and the scene of the accident. This is not something you saw in Classical Hollywood films, certainly not the back and forth between two spaces, but it was an innovative stylistic device in this film.

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