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Sound, Image and Time in Damages

by Jeremy Butler

In a sound flashback we hear speech, music or sound effects from an earlier time than the image currently on the screen. This occurs frequently in narrative programs. We can see this technique in the August 14, 2007 episode of Damages (2007-), a program known for complicated flashbacks. 

The episode flashes back to an incident in 2002. In the story’s present time, two attorneys are interviewing Katie (Anastasia Griffith) about her past encounters with Gregory (Peter Facinelli). We cut back and forth between 2007 and 2002. As a bridge to those 2002 images, the sound editor laid dialogue from the past over an image of Katie in the present. Specifically, as we see 2007 Katie, we hear 2002 Greg say, “Holy shit, you live in Brooklyn, too?” The reverse—that is, sound later than the image—can also occur. When a sound flash-forward is used, the viewer hears sound from a future part of the story. The same Damages episode actually begins in the past, in a flashback from 2002. In the flashback, Katie’s image freezes and we hear dialogue from the present day spoken over it. The interview in the present is already in progress and one lawyer’s (Felicia Marquand [Marlyne Afflack]) instruction to Katie to “Wait, wait, wait” seems to interrupt the flashback. In this case, 2007 sound is heard over a 2002 image.

Sound, Image and Time in Damages

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A scene from the August 14, 2007 episode of Damages that illuminates the complex relationship of sound, image and time.

from Damages (2007)
Creator: KZK Productions
Distributor: FX, originally
Posted by Jeremy Butler