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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. In Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Giorgio Agamben provides an analysis of the “state of exception,” that situation in which the sovereign, in response to crisis, suspends the efficacy of the rule of law. This juridical move has ontological implications, for it also suspends our everyday experience of time. Music, which can emulate the concentrated temporality of the state of exception, offers itself as a powerful formal tool for its cinematic realization. In his 2006 setting of the P.D. James novel Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón conjures a future dystopia that extrapolates this complicated political terrain. Drawing upon the complex diegetic and non-diegetic soundscape of the film, this discussion outlines the means through which music and sound intensify the filmic depiction of the state of exception.

Keywords: state of exception, homo sacer, temporality, Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón, dubstep, classic rock, John Tavener

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