Movies are the perfect blend of sight and sound to create something artistic. There is the most obvious sound in the movie, and that’s the actors speaking to each other. There are also the ambient sound of life, which in film is referred to as sound effects. And one of the most memorable aspects of a movie’s sound is the musical sound track recorded for the film.
The most captivating bit of dialogue in The Natural is the conversation between Roy and Iris while Roy is recovering in the hospital. Roy’s biggest flaw is his hubris. He tells Harriet Bird that he wants to be known as the best in the game. He forgot the advice of his father, that even though he has a gift it is not enough. Roy relied too much on himself and was struck down, as any mythical hero guilty of hubris.
There in the hospital, Roy admits his frustration that he will never be known as the greatest to ever play the game. He still hasn’t learned his lesson. Iris chides him for his short-sightedness. She mentions that we have two lives: a young life where we make mistakes and an older life where we learn to live with those mistakes. This definitely describes Roy Hobbs.
The Natural is filled with sounds from the ballpark. He hear the roar of the crowd, the pop of the ball in the glove, or the crack of the ball off the end of the bat. These are genuine and well done. They add to the fell of honesty in the film even though it is clearly mythology.
Three of the best uses of sound effects have to do with particular home runs. One was the home run in Chicago when Roy shatters the clock in Wrigley Field. The shatter can be heard all throughout the stadium as well as the movie theater. One definitely hears time stop of Roy as he not only ends his slump but reunites with his angel, Iris. Another great home run sound is when Roy breaks the stadium lights in his last at bat that wins the pennant for Pop and end his turbulent relationship with the Judge.
But by far the best sound effect in the movie is the use of lightning. It begins with the lightning that strikes the tree that would late be made into the bat Wonderboy. Lightning strikes at Roy’s first big league at bat just before he knocks the cover off the ball. And finally, lightning strikes just before the final home run that climaxes the movie.
The Natural has a pleasant musical sound track, but nothing I would consider spectacular. To me, the best movie composers are men like Bernard Hermann, Maurice Jaffe, and Enrico Marconi, who were used by directorial greats like Hitchcock, Lean, and Leone, respectively.
But the movie music does its job excellently at the final home run scene. As Roy rounds the bases, our heroic theme escorts him around the bags. We feel the triumph of the moment along with all Knights fans, which we in the audience have become by this point. With no doubt, the sound within The Natural is just as vital as the visual, and both perform excellently is telling a great story.
Movieclip. (October 25, 2012). The Natural (4/8) Movie CLIP – Knock The Cover Off The Ball (1984) HD. [Video file]. Retreived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlNLhuxeDJQ
Crackle. (January 21, 2010).The Natural. Roy Hobbs smashes the clock tower at Wrigley Field. Mammoth home run [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3w0FLxdEKk