Posted by: ckckred | July 20, 2014

What Do You Think of Voiceovers?


Voiceovers tend to be the trickiest technique for filmmakers to pull off.  I’ve always felt that voiceovers typically are an easy way out for directors to do tell story, preventing the audience from figuring it out.  There are exceptions (the narrations in Apocalypse Now and GoodFellas help add to the themes of insanity and power in each respective film). The best use of a narration though in my opinion would be Barry Lyndon, where the voiceover acts as a domineering force that control’s Redmond Barry’s life.  The cold indifference of Michael Hordern’s voice is like an oracle that foretell’s Barry’s fate.

But what do you think?



  1. Great question! Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I loved the narrator Death in ‘The Book Thief’. Yes, to Morgan Freeman in just about all his voice overs like ‘Shawshenk Redemption’. Sport films tend to use them to explain what the heck is going on like ‘Cinderella Man’. It didn’t work for me in Spielberg’s ‘A.I’ even if it was Ben Kingsley’s awesome voice.

    • Thanks. I would disagree with A. I., I thought the voiceover worked really well.

  2. I generally don’t mind voiceovers. Just happened to watch The Time Machine (1960 version if I remember that year correctly) and there I acutally liked the voiceover as it felt completely natural.

  3. You know, I understand the lazy technique complaint, but voiceovers really dont bother me. If a voiceover is really bad and is clearly just a storytelling device, then it will stand out, and if its well-done it will blend it. But I wont condemn the whole practice.

    • Voiceovers really bother me when they’re used to lazily tie a movie together mostly, but they are plenty of good uses of narration (Scorsese is particularly adept with the technique).

  4. As you mention just above, I expect them masterfully in a Scorsese film. Liotta, De Niro, Di Caprio, works so well 🙂

    • Scorsese is a master of voiceovers for sure. He’s one of the few directors who can almost always deliver a great narration.

  5. I don’t mind if they do it right, esp if the talent’s voice is pleasing to the ear. So generally it doesn’t bother me, I know that in The Great Gatsby for example, it’s similar to how it’s done in the book so it works for me.

  6. Some of my favorite films (The Royal Tenenbaums, Fight Club, Sunset Boulevard, Taxi Driver, The Shawshank Redemption) use voice-over.

    I’ve not yet watched Barry Lyndon, but I see you’re using Ryan O’Neal as your avatar now.

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