Andor's Sound Team Came Up With A Horrifying Torture Sound, But Scrapping It Was The Most 'Effective' Choice [Exclusive]

"Andor" has continually proved itself to be not only one of the darker and more intense "Star Wars" projects to date but, also one of the more creative and inspired. The writing and production design of "Andor" go hand-in-hand to tell a compelling story, giving a deeper look at the machinations of the Empire and all their twisted ways of torture and stomping out rebellion. The attention to detail makes everything feel much more real, with the Imperial prison factory where Cassian is imprisoned being a perfect example of a great set with so many details that it feels like a character in and of itself.

Another aspect critical to "Andor" is the torture device used in episode 9. Long after Cassian and Luthen made their daring escape from Ferrix, the planet still ended up suffering the consequences of Cassian's actions. After being forcefully arrested by Imperial officers, Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona) is interrogated and promptly placed in a torture device never seen in "Star Wars" before. The device is meant to play back the sounds of a dying species wiped out by the Empire. The sounds, as told by Bix's interrogator, cause emotional stress to those who listen to them. The scene of Bix being tortured is harrowing, and when it came time for the sound team to decide on a sound for audiences to hear, the "less is more" approach was made.

Letting an actor carry the scene

In /Film's interview with David Acord, the supervising sound editor spoke in detail about Bix's torture scene. While there could have been any sort of terrifying sounds created for the scene, it was series creator Tony Gilroy who decided for the sound not to be heard:

"When that scene came up, it was like, 'Oh, okay, well...' It's daunting, for sure, that we had to come up with a sound that is, 'What's the sound that would literally be used to torture somebody with?' So we came up with a lot of ideas of, "What do these creatures sound like that they're emulating?" Or maybe it's, we come up with a more surrealistic thing of, 'What does the sound make the characters feel like? What is that sound?' And ultimately, it was Tony who said, 'No, we don't want to hear it. The audience doesn't hear it, and let Adria Arjona carry that scene.'"

"Andor" has taken a step back from the grandiose world-building shown in other recent "Star Wars" projects, lacking in the usual large amounts of aliens, droids, and otherworldly flairs added to the production design. It makes sense that when it came to the torture device, the minimalist approach would be made that relied entirely on the actor's performance to make it convincing. Gilroy's decision to rely on clever editing and an actor's performance is the kind of creative storytelling that makes "Andor" stand out.

Less is more

The less is more approach "Andor" has used up to this point in the series has worked wonders for the story and characters. The minimalist approach works exceptionally well in the case of the torture scene, as David Acord emphasized the belief of the creators that leaving the torture sounds to the imagination is a much more effective tool than anything they could have created:

"So we go to complete silence once the headphones go on, and it's just her breathing, and just sort of that terror in her eyes, and that build up to that scream, that sells it. And it's that absolute silence all around her, and it's feeling her terror in that moment of just ... because I think the audience is expecting to hear something in that moment, and then when you don't, it immediately kicks in your own imagination into like, 'Oh God, what is she hearing? What is this?' And your own imagination is going to be far more terrifying or interesting on an individual basis than anything that we would create. So it is effective."

The sound design in the scene, which provides a sense of all other sounds being trapped out, gives both Bix and the viewer a feeling of isolation and terror. Moreover, the incredible performance Adria Arjona delivers in the scene makes it all the more intense. Overall, the creative team behind "Andor" has enough trust in its actors and story (and the imagination of its viewers) to make an extremely effective and unsettling torture sequence.