Categories of Function and Sound- The Matrix

The three basic categories of sound in a film are dialogue, sound effects, and music. Dialogue is best described as talking, the conversations between the actors or narration. Sound effects are the sounds that are used to enhance the film. Some sound effects are used to enhance a natural element, such as a birds chirping in an outdoor scene. Walla is a popular “natural” sound effect, it is unintelligible background noises used to depict a crowd (Goodykoontz and Jacobs, 2011). Other sound effects are used to enhance unnatural events in the movie, such as an explosion. Music is the third basic category of sound used in films. This category contains the score, which is played during action scenes in a film. Then there is the soundtrack, which contains all the music in a film. The soundtrack sometimes also contains certain dialogue from the film as well.

The Matrix uses all three of these sound categories well. Obviously the characters converse with one another to create a dialogue. There is music that is played throughout the film as well, especially during action or fight scenes. There is also the use of walla, and other natural sound effects along with creative sound effects that enhance the film. Sound specialist Dane A. Davis, was responsible for the never before heard special effects sounds used during the fight scenes in the film. With the help of animal sounds and the sounds generated from hitting large pieces of meat, Davis created unique body-hit and whoosh sounds during these scenes (Isaza, 2009). These and other sounds in this film are characteristic of both science fiction and action films.

The following fight scene makes use of the unique sound effects that Davis spoke of, along with a score playing in the background. It also uses realistic sounds like the newspapers blowing in the wind, or the cement crumbling under the blows of the agent’s fists. The meat hitting sounds are prevalent as well, as Neo and the agent exchange blows. While a lot of these sounds are unrealistic, many are realistic but enhanced, such as the knuckle cracking at the beginning of the scene. Without these sounds the scene, and the film overall would lose the excitement and suspense that makes this film so great.


Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). FILM: FROM WATCHING TO SEEING. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

The Matrix – Subway Fight. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Isaza, M. (2009, August 6). Dane A. Davis Special: The Matrix [Part 1] | Designing Sound Designing Sound. Retrieved from


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