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  • Writer's pictureMarcelo Lewin

Golda Sound Design Breakdown

In my "Art and Craft of Film Editing" class at UCLA Extension, we had to do a sound design scene breakdown of a movie of our choosing. I chose to watch Golda and found the sound design to be spectacular.

Movie Details

​Log Line

Golda Meir’s tenure as Israel’s prime minister and the decisions she had to make during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Release Date



Nicholas Martin


Guy Nattiv


Arik Lahav Leibovich

Supervising Sound Designer / Re-recording Mixer

Niv Adiri

Sound Designer

Tom Sayers

Scene Overview


00:33:38 to 00:37:00


​Golda Meir enters the command center in the cell to listen in on the operations of the army as the counter attack against Egypt begins.

Sound Design Scene Breakdown

00:33:38 - 00:33:56
00:33:38 - 00:33:56

Timecode: 00:33:38 - 00:33:56

Description: Golda Meir enters the underground command center cell.

Ambience: You can hear soldiers on the field speaking through the radio coming through their monitoring speakers. They are all speaking Hebrew. You can also hear some sounds of machines, almost typewriter like sounds, signifying the sounds of computers in the 70s.

Dialogue: None

Foley: None

SFX: Soldier speaking Hebrew over the radio. Radio noise. Computer sounds. Typewriter like sounds.

Music: Yes, but quickly fades out by 00:33:47. Provided only to bring up the tension as she approaches the command center.

Final Mix Placement (Panning): Sound effects routed mainly to the center speaker. The rest of the speakers (front, surround and rear) all played the same sound but at a much lower level.

Sound Design Interpretation: The sound design provides a good introduction to the underground cell, the technology that is found there and also what Golda must have been feeling entering that room. The music quickly fades so that we can experience what it must be like being in that room by “listening in” to what’s going on in the field.

00:33:57 - 00:34:14

Timecode: 00:33:57 - 00:34:14

Description: Golda is told how the counterattack operation will be executed.

Ambience: Sounds of the soldiers coming through the radio with lots of distortion (with an echo in the room). Computer sounds, typewriter-like sounds, faint sounds of phones ringing.

Dialogue: Conversation between Golda and the commander as he explains what is going on in the field and what they are about to do.

Foley: None.

SFX: Soldier speaking Hebrew over the radio. Radio noise. Computer sounds. Typewriter like sounds.

Music: None.

Final Mix Placement (Panning): Dialog routed to center speaker. Sound effects mainly on the center speaker, but also spread to the rest of the speakers (front, surround and rear).

Sound Design Interpretation: Continues providing the ambience of what it was like to be in that command center.

00:34:15 - 00:36:10

Timecode: 00:34:15 - 00:36:10

Description: The counterattack operations begin.

Ambience: After the buttons are pressed, we continue to hear lots of distortion coming from the radio in the field. The dialog of soldiers continues. We also hear various other sounds close to the end of this scene including morse code sounds and sounds of computer tapes rolling.

Dialogue: The soldiers and commanders in the field speaking to each other over the radio.

Foley: Possibly the buttons being pushed and clicked? But I’m assuming you can also use SFX for that.

SFX: Buttons being pushed. Distortion sounds. Humming sounds. Bomb explosions. Sounds of computer tapes rolling. While the lights blink (at 00:35:54), you can faintly hear morse code sounds.

Music: At 00:35:03 we see Golda put her head down, as a continuous note of music fades in and gets louder, signaling her realization that the Israeli soldiers are being massacred.

Final Mix Placement (Panning): Depending on the framing of the shot, the dialog of the soldiers fighting can be heard from different speakers (front left, surround right, rear right). The music filled all of the channels as it faded in to provide more tension.

Sound Design Interpretation: Sound design is used exquisitely here to signal the beginning of the operations. For example, at 00:34:16, the sounds of the buttons and knobs and the fade in of the radio communications, signals the viewer that the counter offensive has begun.

00:36:11 - 00:36:27

Timecode: 00:36:11 - 00:36:27

Description: The realization that the operation went terribly wrong and completely failed.

Ambience: All these sounds are diegetic sounds, emanating from the room’s speakers.  Sounds of bombs exploding. Heavy breathing. Sounds of machine gun fires. Sounds of people screaming. Radio distortion sounds.

Dialogue: Egyptian soldiers speaking to each other in Arabic about their success in killing ‘the Zionists’ (at the end of the scene), claiming full control of the area.

Foley: None.

SFX: Distortion sounds. Heavy breathing. Machine gun firing. People screaming. Radio distortion. Bombs exploding.

Music: The last musical note from the previous scene is completely cut off by the main explosion that seems to signal that all the Israeli soldiers are dead.

Final Mix Placement (Panning): The main explosion that cuts off the music is routed mainly to the subwoofers, while the dialog and distorted fighting effects come mainly from the front center speaker, as we see Golda’s face react to what’s happened.

Sound Design Interpretation: Sound is clearly used to signal how the operation clearly failed and the effect it had on Golda Meir.

00:36:28 - 00:36:50

Timecode: 00:36:28 - 00:36:50

Description: Shows how visibly shaken Golda is by the failure of the operation and the deaths of so many Israeli soldiers.

Ambience: Distortion sound coming from lights in the bathroom. Echoey room.

Dialogue: None, but heavy panting.

Foley: Possibly all the water and pill sounds. See SFX below.

SFX: Light sound distortion (e.g. from a ballast). Sound of pills hitting a bottle as it’s being shaken. Sounds of pills falling on hand. Water running. Water being splashed on her face. Water draining in a sink.

Music: None.

Final Mix Placement (Panning): The sound effects of the water, splashing and pills all are routed to the center speaker, while the room’s distortion sound, the ballast of the fluorescent lights surround the viewer (front, surround and rear speakers).

Sound Design Interpretation: The lack of music and the emphasis on the sounds, such as her panting and the pills falling against her hand, gives the viewer the same feeling that Golda must have been feeling at that moment (anxious, heart pounding, nervous).

00:36:51 - 00:37:00

Timecode: 00:36:51 - 00:37:00

Description: Golda leaves the underground command center, visibly defeated.

Ambience: None.

Dialogue: None, but light panting coming from Golda.

Foley: Footsteps, creaking boards (this one threw me off because if you look at the scene, she’s walking on concrete). Maybe that sound could be emanating from the boards on the wall.

SFX: Perhaps the panting?

Music: None.

Final Mix Placement (Panning): Mainly routed to the center speaker, with the rest of the speakers (front, surround and rear) all having the same signal, but at a much lower level.

Sound Design Interpretation: The sound design reflects Golda’s mood. Complete silence. Exhausted. Feeling isolated by her decisions and knowing she will have to deal with their ramifications.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie "with my ears". I encourage you to watch it as well and see if you agree with my sound breakdown.

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