Dialogue Recording

Michael Barrier had a post today about Hayao Mizyazaki and his preference of recording the dialogue for films after the animation is finished (which of course goes against common practice in most commercial animation). Michael ended his post with this: "If post-recording has now become attractive to some, perhaps that's because today's cartoons tend to be so dialogue-heavy, and their dialogue is so often driven by the desire to thrust forward not the character itself, but the star speaking the lines". The post brings up some good arguments on both sides but this final sentence got me thinking about the amount of dialogue or talking not only in animation but in live action films, television, and life in general. Dialogue heavy cartoons are generally cheaper to produce but in my mind are also generally less interesting to watch. The majority of today's cartoons are glorified radio shows. 

Close your eyes the next time the Simpsons or Family Guy or most Saturday morning fare is on and see if you laugh just as much (perhaps even more?... or you may not find them that funny or engaging in the first place). The drawings are there simply as a vehicle for the writing. Of course these are hugely popular shows thanks to our "talk heavy" society. Every town has 24 hour talk radio and there has never been more talk shows on TV. I watch a lot of sports and it's not unusual to have three commentators yakking over the action followed by another yakking in between down at field or ice level followed by 5 minute commercial breaks followed by intermission breaks with 3-4 "experts" yakking away talking over one another. How can a solid opinion be discussed and supported like this? Even action films have taken to adding dialogue during the action. (Save The Bourne films, did Matt Damon say much in those films? no witty one-liners but I can remember the intricate story vividly).

Walk down any street and count the people talking on their cellphones. I guess my point is this - why so much talking? What happened to silence? Some of the best animation ever produced has little to no dialogue, Road Runner Cartoons? Silly Symphonies? Fantasia? Popeye only talked when needed. A picture says a thousand words they say. A thousand voices sounds like white noise. The upcoming film "There Will Be Blood" apparently has a 15 minute prologue with no dialogue. Almost every review I've read has made a point of noting this - in some cases as a gamble as if having only moving pictures and music may alienate the audience. I'm not saying a return to silent films is in order and I'm not down playing the importance of writing or that I don't enjoy a good "talkie" but I do feel a little quiet can go a long way.