Christopher Nolan Addresses One Big Complaint About Movies Like Interstellar

Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar

In a Hollywood atmosphere where franchises and adaptations of existing intellectual properties reign supreme, Christopher Nolan remains one of the few directors who can draw in huge crowds on his name alone. And yet, that doesn’t mean his movies are free from being critiqued. In fact, Nolan recently acknowledged how some of his fellow filmmakers have told him how they had trouble hearing the dialogue in some of his movies, including Interstellar.

While other moviegoers might share this particular opinion, Christopher Nolan is surprised this is even an issue in the first place. As the director explained to author Tom Shone in the book The Nolan Variations (via Indiewire) about Interstellar’s sound mix:

It was a very, very radical mix. I was a little shocked to realize how conservative people are when it comes to sound. Because you can make a film that looks like anything, you can shoot on your iPhone, no one’s going to complain. But if you mix the sound a certain way, or if you use certain sub-frequencies, people get up in arms.

Clearly Christopher Nolan likes to be a little more experimental with his sound work, saying how there’s a “wonderful feeling of scale” by playing around with this aspect of the filmmaking process. With Interstellar specifically, Nolan and his team “tapped into the idea of the sub-channel, where you can just get a lot of vibration,” resulting in a “wonderful feeling of physicality.” Nolan specifically highlighted composer Hans Zimmer’s score using an organ at the “absolutely lowest note,” which would make one’s chest drop.

However, not everyone is not into Christopher Nolan being so radical with the sound work on Interstellar and some of his other movies. Nolan also said the following:

We got a lot of complaints. I actually got calls from other filmmakers who would say, ‘I just saw your film, and the dialogue is inaudible.’ Some people thought maybe the music’s too loud, but the truth was it was kind of the whole enchilada of how we had chosen to mix it.

Opinions, especially ones concerning movies, are subjective. So maybe you like the unorthodox approaches Christopher Nolan takes with sound mixing, or maybe you wish he’d adopt more traditional methods; maybe you even want him to make a literally quiet movie. In any case, for now, it doesn’t sound like Nolan plans on changing his sound mixing ways, so if you fall into the Nolan-movies-are-too-loud camp, assuming you see his next movie in theaters, maybe bring a pair of earplugs.

As far as how Interstellar performed overall when it was released in November 2014, the movie was met with a fair amount of positive reception, ranking at 72% among professional critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and earning an 86% audience score. Commercially speaking, Interstellar did quite well for itself, pulling in over $693 million worldwide. The movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain (among others) followed a group of astronauts who ventured to through a wormhole near Saturn to find a new home for humanity following Earth depleting nearly all of its natural resources.

Christopher Nolan’s latest movie, Tenet, is wrapping up its theatrical run and will be available on home media starting December 15. Keep track of the movies set to arrive next year with our 2021 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.