“Y’know that ringing in your ears? That ‘eeeeeeeeee’? That’s the sound of the ear cells dying, like their swan song. Once it’s gone you’ll never hear that frequency again. Enjoy it while it lasts.”
In Children of Men sound plays an extremely important role in the film. Sound is used to guide our emotional responses and it also gives us insight into what the main character, Theo, is feeling at key points. The audience is also led to a deeper understanding of the character’s actions by way of sound. Alfonso Cuarón uses high-pitched sounds as a motif to prepare the audience for some events and to heighten tension at other times. He connects these sounds with both death and shock. Through repetition Cuarón shows viewers how Theo reacts to these events internally and also how he views his world.
In Children of Men a diegetic (we talked about this in class – don’t make that face!) high-pitched ringing motif that appears several times in the film, and at other points, different non-diegetic and diegetic high-pitched sounds are inserted. The ringing sound is to amplifies the deaths of people close to Theo and also shows the pain and isolation that Theo feels with these deaths. Another purpose for the motif of the ringing is to show the viewer that Theo sees civilisation as dying.