When we write or direct a film, it's kind of like conducting an orchestra over the course of the story, building up tension, creating contrast between funny moments and violent ones, character development scenes and major plot reveals. This discussion however, is about what's probably the least discussed tool in the emotional orchestrator's kit. This is about scenes that induce a feeling of calm, meditation, or reflection. They serve a variety of purposes in practice, allowing a beat for the protagonist's emotional state to land with the audience. Showing a character pondering a tough decision, or simply giving the audience a momentary rest after an intense section of the story.
The reason I bring this up is that over the last 20 years, I've seen a sizable industry grow around this technique. ASMR, 10 hour loops of a campfire crackling on youtube. The final fantasy series from Square is about 30% ambience by volume, and is headed towards a billion dollars net. It seems clear that there is a customer base out there that likes content designed to reduce anxiety.
My usage in these projects will be rare, typically punctuating more intense scenes, but I've seen films like "Nausica: Valley of the Wind" that were very successful using this technique more forward in the mix.
I've seen this chord played a thousand times, and never heard anyone talk about it. So I thought it might be interesting to discuss. Has anyone else ever intentionally created quiet, serene moments in their films? Do you hate it or like it when filmmakers put these "rests" in their compositions?
I'll highlight a scene - Mike's death in breaking bad. There is a long shot of him just sitting by a river, bleeding out, and the pace slows to a crawl for a moment, as the viewer watches him sitting silently, watching the sunset reflect in the river.