In Mehmet Ger’s THE CONTRACT, it’s crucial to convey meaning outside of the dialog. Of course, film is clearly a visual medium, but we often forget the significance of sound. Sound creates three-dimensional space, helps characters move, emphasizes mood, and uses dialog to create meaning. In a film like THE CONTRACT, in which dialog is absent, the key is to be able to convey both mood and meaning without talking.
However, what is the most fun of The Contract is how it uses sound to play with depth. In the short piece, an unnamed man enters into a non-descript high-rise for an interview. The vast majority of the film is the figure traveling through space and the auditory signals that go along with it. He opens doors, traverses long highways, and otherwise makes space real in this echoing, almost empty building. As he is led through the labyrinthine hallways, the clicking of his female guide’s pointy stilettos dominates the soundscape.
The juxtaposition between silence and background noise creates an ominous mood that is matched by the austere, empty setting and harsh, corporate lighting. Like many films that use a blue filter, the film presents a cool, harsh landscape that seems infertile and sterile, which fits in excellently with the film’s final images.
However, even given the film’s limited scope, it seems to have challenges conveying it’s meaning. The film leaves several questions unanswered, including what is the larger background of the world in which this particular event takes place? The film’s combination of knowing glances and blank stares create an eerie sense of a world without human desires, needs, or wants. However, the film leaves with a strong mood—but little sense of the circumstances that make this world possible.
That being said, the film is definitely a fun experiment in sound at a time in which sound has become second to the dominance of the image. Much like its earlier predecessors of the early sound era that attempted to understand the role of diegetic sound in the moving images, The Contract emphasizes the three-dimensionality of cinematic space, even though its characters are fundamentally two dimensional.