Christopher Nolan Says Filmmakers Have Complained About His Sound Design

It would appear that filmmakers and moviegoers have strong expectations on the use of sound.

Christopher Nolan
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In Tom Shone’s new book The Nolan Variations (as first reported by IndieWire), Christoper Nolan comments on how conservative moviegoers are about cinematic sound, and the same goes for his fellow filmmakers.


Feedback About Use of Sound in Interstellar

Nolan said that he received calls from other directors, who would say: “I just saw your film, and the dialogue is inaudible.” Nolan was a little shocked at the feedback, considering how there is so much variation when it comes to a film’s visuals, and people have no qualms about it, but react quite strongly when their expectation of sound deviates from the norm.

Nolan added “there’s a wonderful feeling of scale” that can come by experimenting with sound design and “a wonderful feeling of physicality to sound that on Interstellar we pushed further than I think anyone ever has.”


Frustration About Inaudible Dialogue in Tenet

It appears nothing as changed, since the reception on the sound mixing for Tenet had the same divisive response, where some were inspired by the use of sound, while others were infuriated. In an article from Variety, which curated responses from moviegoers on reddit, there were complaints of “crucial dialogue that was nearly inaudible” and how “everyone was mumbling through masks”.

Peter Albrechtsen, a sound designer who worked on Dunkirk, says that Nolan’s use of sound is a “very visceral” and “physical experience.” He added: “It’s a very intense sonic experience, and I can see why, for some, that’s quite overwhelming.” I mean, there is a reason why Nolan continues to get nominations for technical categories at the Oscars – just let the man be.

Shone’s book The Nolan Variations is now available for purchase.

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