Friday, April 23, 2010

Great Moments in Cinematic History: Captain Hook's Conga Laugh Transcends Narrative Time and Space

The film "Hook" features one of the most eccentric scene transitions in Steven Spielberg's body of work, if not the craft of film and sound editing entire. The transition in question can be summed up as a variation on the standard crossfade (the audio equivalent of a dissolve), which, in this instance, is used to overlap Captain Hook's mischievous laughter with the military cadence of the Lost Boys. What makes this particular transition unique is the way Hook's laugh is looped and played back twice. As the film's diegetic sound hiccups like a broken record, the resulting temporal discontinuity turns a simple crossfade into a trans-diegetic meta-soundtrack where the film effectively samples and remixes itself. Complicating diegetic boundaries further is Captain Hook, who seems to be fully aware of the sound-edit, swaying and rocking to the beat of the Lost Boys' distant drumming.

Just another weird touch on this very weird and very fascinating mess of a film.