Journal Title: Wide Screen
Vol. 9, No.1, July 2022
ISSN: 1757-3920
URL: http://widescreenjournal.org

Abstract: In this article I analyze Doug Liman’s film The Wall (2017), set during the Iraq War, by focusing on the role of corporeal senses and particularly the soundscape of the desert in terms of representing the problematics of contemporary warfare. The two main characters, an American soldier trapped behind a partially destroyed wall and an Iraqi sniper hidden in the landscape, unveil the changing face of today’s warfare as the paradigms of heroism and invulnerability are subverted in their verbal communication through the radio. The experience of an intimate aural relationship between the American soldier and the Iraqi sniper foregrounds connections regarding corporeality and the environment of war: a constant struggle between embodied combat and remote fighting. By exchanging ideas through the radio, the characters involve their entire bodies in a sensorial manner as the sounds vibrate in the landscape in echoes and wave format. These same sounds are implicated in the formation of thoughts and impressions about issues such as terrorism, occupation, and power abuse. I associate the voice of the Iraqi sniper through the radio to Michel Chion’s notion of acousmêtre, with its ability to see and know everything, signaling a character construction that departs from the traditional expressionless profile of locals in war films. Space and sound articulate a complex relationship of power struggle between the characters who present different viewpoints about the experience and meaning of war, especially regarding the position of occupier and occupied.