By Stephanie Ciccarelli
August 14, 2012
Do you narrate audiobooks, documentaries or films?
While watching some bonus material on a DVD, I happened to come across an interview with the film's narrator.
Hear insights gleaned from veteran actor and narrator Christopher Plummer on what he believes the role of the narrator is in today's VOX Daily.
Christopher Plummer (b.1929), a Canadian classical actor best known for his work as Captain Von Trap in The Sound of Music and as a mainstay at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, has one of those voices we have come to trust and allowed into our homes to teach and entertain us.
I recently heard Christopher Plummer's performance as narrator of the film The Gospel of John (2003) starring Henry Ian Cusick. The film, performed word-for-word from the American Bible Society's Good News Bible, was beautifully presented by director Philip Saville. The cast played their roles magnificently. The 180 minutes of rich storytelling and cinematography was a feast for the ears and eyes.
There were three DVDs in the package, the third of which contained a wealth of information about the film's production, its cast and behind the scenes footage that included a read-through with the cast seated, script in hand at rehearsal.
One featured interview was with Plummer wherein he discussed his role as narrator in The Gospel of John at length. Much of what Plummer says applies to narration in general as this paraphrased quote demonstrates.
"The narrator must come in as if he is another disciple watching it all happen. He must not intrude as some narrators do and he mustn't be grand and use the voice of God. He's got to be modest and treat the story as slightly dispassionately so that the sentiment belongs to those who are playing it on the screen."
- Paraphrased quote from Christopher Plummer, The Gospel of John, DVD bonus material
When serving as a film narrator, you must remember to:
1. Assume the role of observer
2. Be modest in how you speak
3. Tell the story objectively
4. Allow on-camera actors to deliver the emotion
If you have any tips you'd like to share about narrating for film, I'd love to hear them! Be sure to comment on this post and tell us what you think makes for great film narration.