Carpetbagger looks at Lon Bender's sound editing for Nicholas Winding Refn's 'Drive', which has a lot of scenes with no dialogue:
“Instead of dealing with the words and the structure of a scene,” he said, “we deal with the subtext of what the characters are hearing, what the audience is hearing and how that expands on the goals of a scene.”
A key example is this early scene, in which Mr. Gosling’s character is at the wheel of a heist getaway car.
“You expect once the guys who are inside with the guns come to the car that they would race away with engines blaring and skids skidding,” Mr. Bender said. “But the scene wasn’t built that way.” Instead, working with Mr. Refn, the sound editors fashioned a scene that portrayed the Driver as a fish, while the police searching for him were sharks. And the sound simulates his psyche. When he pulls away from the heist, Mr. Bender didn’t use engine noise but that of tires on the road. “You see the shot of a cop car in the distance,” he said. “I came up with the sound of just the tires going over a manhole cover. And that’s all you hear.”
The sounds get more intense later in the scene, when the Driver heads onto a bridge and is seen by a helicopter.
“At that moment, as soon as he’s spotted, the assault on his mind and the adrenaline he feels from being caught, is all of a sudden portrayed in the sound. Everything just goes huge, with super loud sounds: engine shifts, helicopters, mayhem.”
Here's the scene:
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