The addition of “talking” sequences are not the only sign that the silent age was almost over. In one scene, a character listens to a record alone in their room. Next door, someone else listens intently to the song. Sound traverses space to briefly unite them. Even though they are separate, they share in the experience together. Without the aid of a soundtrack, such a bond can only be intimated and not actualized. Lonesome was released twice—first as the silent picture it was intended to be, and later with a synchronized soundtrack with music, sound effects, and the few dialogue scenes. Fejos fully realizes the potential of the silent screen—but I think he also hints (perhaps unintentionally) at the future possibilities to come with the arrival of sound.
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and curator whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Moving Image Source, Bright Lights Film Journal, Beat to a Pulp, NoirCon, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Spinetingler, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review. He records instrumental music as Modern Silent Cinema and plays in the hardcore band Night Squad.