Disembodied voices resound across the post-Vietnam Hollywood combat film. Some are heard in real time by way of military technology, such as radios which let soldiers and audiences experience battles which are heard but not seen (acousmatic battles, in Michel Chion’s term). Different wars present different technological opportunities to unify the dispersed nature of modern combat by way of the soundtrack. Disembodied voices also enter these films by way of tape recordings sent from home, allowing the voices and perspectives of women into otherwise all-male films. Letters heard in voice-over frequently deliver the voices of soldiers who died in the line of duty. When present, voice-over narration in these films is assigned to specific characters who offer their individual perspective on events. Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line takes this approach an extreme, combining voice-overs attached to specific characters with acousmatic voices that speak from a kind of soldier’s over-soul.
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