The Celtic Tiger ‘Unplugged’: DV realism, liveness, and sonic authenticity in Once (2007)

Johnston, Nessa (2014) The Celtic Tiger ‘Unplugged’: DV realism, liveness, and sonic authenticity in Once (2007). The Soundtrack, 7 (1). pp. 25-38. ISSN 17514193 DOI

Once The Soundtrack NJ.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (218kB) | Preview


Once (2007) is described by its director Carney as ‘a modern day musical’, eschewing the elaborately staged set-pieces associated with the film musical genre in favour of a more intimate style in which the songs arise ‘naturalistically’. Depicting the friendship between two musicians towards the end of ‘Celtic Tiger’-era Dublin, the film won critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide, confounding expectations of such a low-budget feature, shot cheaply on digital video. The commercial success of Once exemplifies the ‘rags-to-riches’ heroics of shoestring feature production in the millennial digital era. Yet the narrative of Once is paradoxically uneasy with digital technology and instead articulates what Philip Auslander (and others) term ‘rock authenticity’, fetishizing the ‘live’, the ‘lo-fi’ and the ‘acoustic’ in music. The overall approach to the sound of the film aspires towards ‘liveness’, as the use of location sound recording for the song sequences provides a particular textural quality that incorporates background noise and environmental reverberation, or ‘materializing sound indices’. This article uses analysis of the construction of sound space and sound-image relations in Once to demonstrate how this formal approach works with the narrative to communicate texturally a particular notion of ‘authenticity’ and ‘liveness’ of the film. This will be supplemented with analysis of discourses of authenticity used in the film’s publicity.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ireland; digital video; indie; liveness; musicals
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Media
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2016 10:36

Archive staff only

Item control page Item control page