Review: Just Wait Till Your Ears Read This

Subtitled: The Genius of Ben Burtt

Subtitled: The Genius of Ben Burtt

Let me lead with this: This is by far the best I have ever heard. For an auditory person like me, who has often dreamed of Foley work, it’s a dream come true, giving a truly unique and never boring glimpse behind the scenes of the process of Star Wars in a way most people have probably never imagined. Bonus points for a segment on the origins of the Wilhelm screen, and enough obscure Star Wars trivia to make you truly a delight at parties and informal get-togethers!

If I’m honest, though, there is just one tiny complaint preventing me from giving it five stars: the book does not explore the films equally at all. Acknowledging that it’s only logical to emphasize the Original Trilogy (where Burtt pioneered the effects and methods), and that I understand his not wanting necessarily to spill his secrets on his newer sounds — I’m pretty disappointed that the Prequels get less than half as much attention, and a ridiculous portion of the book is spent on The Clone Wars series (Burtt’s work on Droids and Ewoks and The Holiday Special are only briefly mentioned, so why waste my time on this exploration of a non-film entity?). While the Original films each receive a detailed treatment, step-by-step through each part of the film with excellent pictures and an average of 57 sounds each, the Prequels are reduced to their two or three big moments and quickly glossed over. Episode I has 33 sounds, fully 11 of which are Podrace only. E2 and E3 are given a pittance of a mere 18 and 14 sounds each . . . and one of those sounds isn’t even matched to the “creation story” attached to it (the book describes Burtt using a sonic boom for Vader’s heartbeat in the immolation sequence, but the sound linked to it is simply the Vader breathing/helmet squeal from ESB).

A great book, but it could have been better.

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2 Responses to “Review: Just Wait Till Your Ears Read This”

  1. […] about sounds. I love the sounds in Episode III. One of the reasons I had any disappointment with Ben Burtt’s fabulous sound effect book was that he didn’t talk about the E3 effects very much, and they’re some of my […]

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  2. […] concerns us today. J. W. Rinzler, the man who gave us The Making of the Empire Strikes Back and The Sounds of Star Wars (just to name two of the veritable empire of coffee table books he’s been producing for […]

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