To achieve this, Kies´lowski utilized a range of different techniques along the full range of the classic realist/formalist continuum. Categories like ‘realist’ and ‘formalist’ can be rather blunt instruments when approaching a nuanced director like Kies´lowski, but to stick with those terms for a moment, it can be said that Kies´lowski’s feature fi lm career moved from a more ‘realist’ chapter, as he came out of a documentary career in the late 1970s, into a more ‘formalist’ chapter, as he explored fi ctional narrative fi lmmaking. The lessons learned in the documentary period remained important to him, however, and his formalism did not become a simple ‘art for art’s sake’ affair. Kies´lowski found himself seeking expression of more universal and ‘metaphysical’ concerns, and in that endeavor he found the realist/formalist continuum to be constraining. 2
Indeed, his sonic style in his late period (1991-4) took on something of a hybrid form through his embrace of both realist and formalist techniques, and one product of this hybridization was a more deliberate approach to sound effects and their relationship to the musical score. This hybridization increases the amount of semantic weight one grants to sound effects and music, and it expands their typical semantic roles. In other words, sometimes hearing itself, as a sensuous experience (and not just a semiotic/referential process), rises up, free from its typical subservience to the visual, and sounds and music begin to function as the central axis of meaning upon which a scene turns. As diegetic sound effects, they are ‘realist,’ but their stylized employment (often found in creative pairings with the visuals) marks them as ‘formalist.’ Likewise, as Kies´lowski grew more adventurous with his sound work, he found the sounds
of ‘reality’ (diegetic or not) to be useful as instruments in a type of aural symphony.