Christopher Nolan Confirms Interstellar’s Sound Was “Right For An Experimental Film”



Following complaints from a handful of moviegoers, Christopher Nolan has broken his silence on the purported sound issues within his sci-fi opus Interstellar.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the esteemed director confirmed that the creative team made the conscious decision to mix the sound in a specific way in order to impose a sense of realism on the space-faring adventure.

“I don’t agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue,” he said. “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.”

One scene in particular that seemed to draw the most criticism from moviegoers was the one in which Michael Caine is delivering an important message to Jessica Chastain’s Murph, with the soundtrack overpowering and even drowning out the crucial dialogue. But for Nolan, the ability to use dialogue as a sound effect of sorts, thereby layering it beneath the film’s booming score, is impressionistic sound design that is simply a little unconventional for a mainstream Hollywood production.

“We are following the emotional state of Jessica’s character as she starts to understand what he’s been saying,” Nolan explained. “Information is communicated in various different ways over the next few scenes. That’s the way I like to work; I don’t like to hang everything on one particular line.”

This isn’t the first time that Nolan has been met with criticism relating to film audio. In 2011, the British filmmaker was forced to rework the sound mix for The Dark Knight Rises after a preview screening for the superhero threequel saw audiences complain that they couldn’t understand Tom Hardy’s masked megalomaniac, Bane.

Interstellar‘s score was composed by Hans Zimmer, who also worked alongside Nolan for Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy. And whatever the opinion on the film’s sound design, it doesn’t seem to be impairing Interstellar‘s box office track record, after the film recently soared past $300 million at the global box office.