The cacophony of bleating sheep, horses’ hooves, wagon wheels digging into primitive stone streets, children’s voices and numerous languages permeated the busy walled city of Jerusalem 1,000 years ago. For Academy Award winning Soundelux supervising sound editor Per Hallberg, these were only a few of the “sound realities” portrayed in the soundscape of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.Being an avid reader with a keen interest in history helped Hallberg when he crafted the sound for the epic. “Research is so important in telling the sound story of a film,” he explains. “What sounds existed then and how we can add them in a subtle way to surprise and enhance the audience’s journey through the visual world” is his main objective.Kingdom of Heaven marks Hallberg’s fifth collaboration with Scott, having worked with the director on Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down and Matchstick Men. “Ridley loves to transport an audience to a particular place and time. It’s our job to support the visual story that he is telling, so it feels real and you believe you are there,” he says.One of the biggest challenges of creating the sound narrative for Kingdom of Heaven was the scope and complexity of posting the film. “Ridley shoots a lot of footage with multiple cameras,” says Hallberg, while the final picture combines live action with visual and special effects. “Ridley uses visual effects to support the action to enhance the physical production, and the sound has to be seamlessly woven in to balance that.”From the trickling of water from a newly dug well to the dynamic combat scenes of clashing swords and the cry of battling horsemen, sound added detail to the emotional moments and storytelling. Another big sound challenge of Kingdom Of Heaven was the siege of Jerusalem. For Hallberg, and his sound team— Academy Award winning re-recording mixers Michael Minkler and Myron Nettinga of Todd-A-O, sound effects editors Bryan Bowen, Martin Cantwell, James Harrison, Sue Lenny, foley editor Harry Barnes and music supervisor Marc Streitenfeld—“this was a very complicated scene because of its size. It was a giant team effort. It was long and big and we had to keep the audience in it, to understand but not bombard them.”A native of Ã–land, a small island located in the Baltic Sea off the southeast coast of Sweden, Hallberg was introduced to film postproduction sound in the US through supervising sound editor Wylie Stateman. Hallberg began his career as a sound editor then moved into supervising sound.
Written by Kathy Anderson