Home Entertainment Christopher Nolan talks about the sound of INTERSTELLAR

Christopher Nolan talks about the sound of INTERSTELLAR

2 min read

 For a film set in the far reaches of space, Interstellar happens to have a certain stylistic link to a previous Christopher Nolan film. And that’s in the audio department. As breathtaking as Interstellar is visually, the film leaves much to be desired in terms of audio, with various scenes more mangled than Bane’s speech patterns. But like everything else Nolan has done, that apparent audio issue is there for a reason.


Speaking for the first time on the various complaints about Interstellar’s apparent audio problems that resulted in the soundtrack being a flip-flop mess of various volumes while some important dialogue was apparently dulled, Nolan told THR that he chose “adventurous and creative” sound mix for his self-described experimental film

I’ve always loved films that approach sound in an impressionistic way and that is an unusual approach for a mainstream blockbuster, but I feel it’s the right approach for this experiential film.

Which according to Nolan, has resulted in him favouring Hans Zimmer’s score over actual dialogue in some scenes:

Many of the filmmakers I’ve admired over the years have used sound in bold and adventurous ways. I don’t agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue. Clarity of story, clarity of emotions — I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal — picture and sound.

Which resulted in even further experimentation when some of the dialogue was used in lieu of a proper sound effect:

There are particular moments in this film where I decided to use dialogue as a sound effect, so sometimes it’s mixed slightly underneath the other sound effects or in the other sound effects to emphasize how loud the surrounding noise is. It’s not that nobody has ever done these things before, but it’s a little unconventional for a Hollywood movie.

Nolan explained further that he and his team “mixed for months and months” and “talked about everything”, adding that “everything we are doing is intended to communicate something to the audience.”  In other words, your theater doesn’t suck: The film is meant to sound…weird.

I didn’t have any real problems hearing the film myself, but I did notice that I was paying more attention than usual in some scenes. How about you? Did various musical scores and cosmic effects drown out important bits of exposition for you?

Last Updated: November 19, 2014


  1. RinceThis

    November 19, 2014 at 14:30

    “Talked for months and months”. Certainly explains why he didn’t pick up on all the plot holes…


  2. Kervyn Cloete

    November 19, 2014 at 15:29

    I actually had no problem with that sound. The only portion where I couldn’t hear the dialogue 100% clearly was in Michael Caine’s final scene (if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know it) but then I felt it only fitting to the context that it was a bit muted.


  3. JustSayin'

    November 20, 2014 at 11:51

    I watched it for the second time last night, this time on iMax and I could noticeably (literally) feel the difference the sound made in there. in the regular cinema I didn’t really notice the subdued dialogue all that much and the sound didn’t affect the viewing. on the iMax however, it was much more clear and with certain parts of the film (heavy wind, crossing over, etc.) the seats rumbled with the sound and it felt like you were actually living the experience (or that you were in a ShowScan [OLDschool] at least). If anyone has the chance to see it on iMax, definitely do!


    • konfab aka derp

      November 20, 2014 at 17:16

      Stop making me want to move to Gauteng ;_:


  4. konfab aka derp

    November 20, 2014 at 17:19

    “A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a note can be worth a million pictures”


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