Interstellar’s Experimental Sound

Interstellar’s much maligned sound has been nominated yet again for an award according to Design Trend. Christopher Nolan’s already Oscar nominated sound design has just gotten a nod from the Cinema Audio Society. Nolan has staunchly defended his choices in this movie in spite of some audience and industry complaint.

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

Nolan said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in which he went on to describe his movie as an “experimental film”.

Interstellar can be a disorienting movie on many levels, sound being among them. Shifting camera angles are often accomanied by bracing shifts in sound and music, dialgue often takes a back seat to the sonic portrait being painted by events on screen. There is no doubt that experienceing this “experimental film” requires relenquishing a modicum control to those events. Nolan has crafted a movie that, on every level, intends for you to take a seat inside of it, rather than simply watching it from the outside. It’s more of a rollercoaster, in every sense of the term, than a movie. Unfortunately this is something American audiences are not used to, especially not in big, spectacle movies like this. Even industry professionals were concerned about Nolan’s choices. Billboard quotes one:

“Many others in the sound community were starting to question whether it was an anomaly or the way the film had been released.”

While there may well be continuing discussion as to whether the sound is a “choice” or a snow-job with two nominations and more likely on the way, I think that the industry chosen a side, and for once, chosen wisely.


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