This chapter considers the sonic representation of the helicopter in combat films set in Vietnam and the Greater Middle East. The sound of unseen helicopters has frequently been used as a kind of effects-made music underlining tense narrative moments or dialogue. The sound of helicopter rotors in scenes set on or near helicopters has often been modulated (lowered in volume) or replaced entirely by music. Special attention is given to scenes of soldiers inside helicopters riding into battle and to how music has been used to shape the cinematic experience of helicopter-borne battle. Film form often follows musical form when helos take to the skies on-screen. The helicopter attack on a Vietnamese village to the supposedly diegetic sound of Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” in Apocalypse Now is analyzed in detail. The editor Walter Murch built the sequence on Wagner’s musical form, expressing an equivalence between musical pleasure and the pleasures of firing weapons.
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