Thursday, October 21, 2010

Alan Sklar - voice extroardinaire

And here I thought I was about to praise how a movie had found a whole new way of presenting its story. I happened to catch the last 20 minutes of Ridley Scott’s 2001 Black Hawk Down last night on The Accessibility Channel. I had never seen the movie before (but have now rented it). What struck me was the continual voiceover narration. Coming across the movie while channel surfing I didn’t know if this was a drama or documentary. The images and acting looked pretty damn real with performances by the likes of Ewan McGregor, Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore and others. But the narration had me troubled. Was this to provide more drama or immediacy to the story? I couldn’t figure it out. Then the credits rolled and the same voice – that of renowned New York voice actor Alan Sklar ( – started reading the credits, his voice controlled with meticulous and authoritative pronunciation. Wow – what a concept, having the credits announced! Filmmakers generally try to outdo each other on their inventiveness in credit rolls. But this was unique indeed, right up to announcing the film companies at the very end – “Revolution Studios, Henry Bruckheimer Films.” It made me want to watch – er, listen – to the very last spoken word. Sklar's voice was transfixing. Then it occurred to me. This was the “Accessibility” network (which I had never watched nor even heard of before; I’m currently in Montreal). And that voice wasn’t there because of any invention of Ridley Scott. It was there so that sight-impaired people could more closely follow the action as Sklar described it (“he walks into the supply tent,” “one soldier vomits running down the street”). So the joke is on me. But I must say the narration provided a dramatic effect indeed. And award-winning Sklar is extraordinary. (To hear him go to

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