These Sounds Help to Define Action Films

Before the 1970s, the only action cinema you found on the big screen involved film noir or a police procedural story. Even when Alfred Hitchcock released North by Northwest and Psycho, they were more of a psychological thriller than an action story.

What you’ll notice in those films is the start of the action genre. Even though most historians point to The Great Train Robbery as the first action film, the different sounds and musical scores that lead to tense emotions translated to the early movies that would change what we think about the industry.

What to Expect from an Action Film

You can expect all action films to follow a formulaic sequence of events while telling an original story.

  • The physical action performed by actors or stunt people is spectacular and unique.
  • An emphasis on fighting or thrilling, unexpected circumstances works to drive the narrative.
  • Some sort of chase sequence occurs, whether it is on foot, by car, or even in an airplane.
  • Something always explodes.

With today’s technology, directors can incorporate special effects to enhance the safety of the actors and personnel while creating a realistic action sequence.

The only thing missing from that sequence is the sound. 

What Can You Expect from Action Movie Sounds?

The best action movie soundtracks incorporate three specific elements.

  1. Its central theme incorporates a repeating hook that works to create the atmosphere or aura for the viewer to enjoy.
  2. The tempo of each sound and sequence operates at a pace that matches the action sequences on the screen.
  3. Most title sequences follow a four-chord progression to establish the melody while incorporating different audio elements that create film recall moments.

The next time you watch an action movie, try to pay more attention to the music and sounds you hear. You’ll discover that the depths of emotion and focus come from those elements more than the one-off explosions.