So the other day I joked about how atmosphere is literally just the weather (mostly fog).  But there’s more to it than that.

There’s also background noise.*

Go back to your list of atmospheric movies and/or novels, and pull up a scene/page from one of the items on the list.  The first movie on my list was “Seven,” and the first scene that I was able to pull up was the “What’s in the box?” scene.

The scene starts out with Morgan Freeman in front of an old-gold-colored sky.  The sun is about to set, I think, and the light is golden.

Background noise:  several types of birds chirping, wind blowing.  Nobody speaks, we just hear the sounds of Morgan Freeman cutting open that cardboard box with a pocket knife.  We switch over to Brad Pitt, and suddenly there’s the sound of a helicopter in the background.  As Morgan Freeman opens the box, the wind rises.  We get a cut of a helicopter coming in, a voice over the radio.  Then back to Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey, with a big background of desert hills and powerlines behind them.  Then we start getting background music.

I recommend going to whatever movie/novel you think is most strikingly atmospheric, and looking for a) the weather, and b) background noises, and especially c) the weather making background noises.

 

*Also known as ambient noise, a synonym for atmospheric.