In many ways, Mank feels like a departure from David Fincher‘s usual aesthetic style. A black-and-white drama written by Fincher’s father, the late Jack Fincher, Mank is set in Hollywood in the 1930s and ’40s. It tells the story of alcoholic, troubled screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz’s (Gary Oldman) attempts to reignite his career by drawing from his own experiences with newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) and Hearst’s paramour, actress Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried). Mank later turns those relationships into the script which eventually becomes Citizen Kane. Based on the most recent trailer, Mank looks to be as drawing from the realms of realism and impressionism, while allowing the director to collaborate with creatives like DP Erik Messerschmidt to craft an aesthetically unique (to Fincher) work.
But Messerschmidt’s contributions to Mank are not the only ones making this movie a notable work in Fincher’s oeuvre. As Fincher shared in a recent New York Magazine profile, the director’s discussions with Ren Klyce, who serves as the sound designer and sound supervisor on Mank, began in interesting places and led to some exciting results. Fincher kicked off the topic by sharing some of the inspiration starting points for the intended sound design.
“Ren Klyce, who is the sound designer, and I started talking years ago about how we wanted to make this feel like it was found in the UCLA archives — or in Martin Scorsese’s basement on its way to restoration. Everything has been compressed and made to sound like the 1940s. The music has been recorded with older microphones so it has a sort of sizzle and wheeze around the edges — you get it from strings, but you mostly get it from brass. What you’re hearing is a revival house — an old theater playing a movie.”
What Klyce was able to craft for Mank has already led to praise in early screenings. According to Fincher, viewers have noted how the sound of the movie, which recalls the warm sound of movies from the ’30s and ’40s, impacts the Mank viewing experience: “It’s funny because I’ve played it for some people who ask, ‘What is going on with the sound? It’s so warm.’ And I respond, ‘Well, what you mean when you say ‘warm’ is it sounds like an old movie. It sounds analog.’”
Another highlight from Fincher’s New York Magazine profile: Mank will feature the pleasant sound and look of a reel changeover — something Fincher also incorporated (albeit very briefly) into Fight Club — that you’d get in an actual celluloid print. For Fincher, this choice makes all the difference in adding more era-specific authenticity to Mank and should please cinephiles everywhere: “We made the soundtrack pop like it does when you do a reel changeover. It’s one of the most comforting sounds in my life. They’re so little that they’re very difficult to hear until you hear them. It has what we ended up calling patina, these tiny little pops and crackles that happen, and they’re very beautiful.”
Mank arrives on Netflix on December 4. For more, check out our Netflix originals release calendar.
Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.
Source : Allie Gemmill Link