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Narration in Films: 5 Examples of Voice Overs in Movies

I adore movies. I've been a fan since I was young when I first enjoyed the classics like The Goonies, Back To The Future and Ghostbusters.

There's so much to love, from the storylines to the characters and from the visual effects to the jump-scares.

(But it's mainly about the copious amounts of M&Ms).

Comfortable cinema seats

Movies have always been a part of my life, but one aspect caught my eye (ear), and no one ever talked about it.

We all know that films are a visual medium, but what about the role of narration in films?

Those voices. That scene setting. That beautiful audio that added an unseen but fully realised layer of understanding to a production.

Voice-overs are used to great effect in so many movies, whether it's providing background information, filling in plot holes, or just adding an extra slice of beautiful cinematic atmosphere.

Don't believe me? Well, here are five examples of voice-over in movies that really stand out and PROVE ME RIGHT!

Goodfellas - Ray Liotta

As far back as I remember, it's been impossible to separate the iconic film from its star, Ray Liotta.

Scene after scene has been etched in our memories because of Liotta's portrayal of mob member Henry Hill.

But perhaps most important of all is his unforgettable voiceover narration throughout the movie.

With the perfect balance between gritty and heartfelt, Liotta takes us on a wild ride through the world of organised crime with an effortless air and his unmistakable timbre.

That performance-of-a-lifetime provided atmosphere, linked us to the action, and made Goodfellas a classic that will be remembered forever.

I still get shivers every time I watch it.

Taxi Driver (Robert De Niro)

Taxi Driver is a classic movie starring Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, a man living an isolated inner-city life as a cab driver.

We witness his interactions with the people of New York City and his struggles to fit in which lead him to undertake a violent mission of vigilantism - ultimately making it one of the most relevant modern films.

De Niro does an incredible job of portraying Bickle's tension and underlying trauma through his narration, making for an intense but deeply meaningful cinematic experience.

As one YouTube commenter rightly put it, it's like dark poetry.

The movie would be nothing without it.

The film became an example of great filmmaking that stood the test of time, demonstrating excellent directing and storytelling capabilities and some of the best voiceover work in the industry regarding setting the tone of the production.

American Psycho (Christian Bale)

What a way to tie up a movie.

Chilling and absolutely harrowing.

Christian Bale is iconic in his role in the psychological thriller American Psycho. His ultra-focused performance as Patrick Bateman earned him critical acclaim and enthralled audiences worldwide.

Bale masterfully dances between portraying a charming financier and a merciless murderer, showcasing the varying heights of extreme emotion he's capable of.

The complexity and depth that is brought to the character can only be attributed to Bale's incredible talent as an actor, which has steadily kept people talking since 2000 when the movie was released.

As far as the voice over is concerned, it literally ties up the movie and showcases the disturbing mindset of Bateman and adds to the chill of the movie so utterly perfectly.

Trainspotting (Ewan McGregor)

Trainspotting is a cult classic film starring Ewan McGregor, memorable for both its shocking realism and wry, dark humour.

You could argue that McGregor's captivating performance as Mark Renton is perhaps his finest.

Overall, the movie is an uncompromising exploration of addiction and despair, kept afloat by witty, layered and sympathetic performances. Trainspotting provides raw insight into a world most viewers may never have seen before but can't forget once they do.

The voice over in the opening scene is perfect.

A stunning rendition of modern capitalism, this monologue is captivating, and it doesn't matter who you are; the words hit in a way that you can't shake off. It's haunting but also a lot of fun, which is precisely how you could describe the movie as a whole.

The Shawshank Redemption (Tim Robbins & Morgan Freeman)

Yes, I might have just saved the best till last.

What would a post on voice overs be without a mention of this classic?

The Shawshank Redemption is a movie unlike any other, and in terms of voice overs, nobody comes close to the power that Morgan Freeman holds.

Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, this classic movie follows the story of Andy Dufresne, who is wrongfully convicted of murder and sent to Shawshank Prison in Maine.

Accompanied by Freeman's smooth narration and Robbins' riveting performance, The Shawshank Redemption stands as one of the most iconic films of all time for its masterful direction, stunning acting, and profound themes.

It's easy to see why this timeless masterpiece continues to captivate audiences; it's simply one of those films that you can't help but love.

"Some birds aren't meant to be caged."

Storytelling in film isn't just about what you see on the screen. The sound is just as important and as you can see in these examples, voice overs in particular, are power.

They can bring tears to your eyes. They can make you think and feel. They can change you.

Emotions linger. Thoughts twist and turn like fireflies in the night.

Deep. Yes, they are.

Voiceovers are amazing pieces of media that can convey a message like no other form of content can.

When you start applying this logic to your business, then o'dang, you can start to do amazing things.

Let me show you (the capitals here probably aren't needed but it's too late) THE POWER OF VOICE!

It might just change everything.

Or it might just change your voicemail. It depends what you need a voiceover for.

If your a prospective voice actor doing some research, you might want to learn how to find voice over work and also know how much you can earn as a voice over artist.


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Martin Whiskin voiceover artist talking into a Rode NT1-a microphone
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