Interstellar Nolan cockpit

Not every tweet about the sound of Interstellar was a complaint. Several fans said the issue was overblown, or didn’t even know there was a reported  issue, and praised the sound to no end.

What could be the root of the complaints, and the discrepancy between experiences? In an interview with the New York Times, Nolan mentions that the sound mix on this film is unique because he didn’t want a lot of surround. That might create some kind of overload in the channels:

The most important thing, he said, was the volume; he wanted a lot of simple power, and all of it coming right out of the screen. He didn’t put a lot of surround in the mix, because he didn’t want a lot of distraction from the sides. (Outer space, he pointed out dryly, is not known for its ambient murmurs.)

It’s also important to note, so far, all these complaints are coming from film screenings. Many of these theaters haven’t projected on film in a while and could have messed up that process or not employ someone who knows how to work the projector properly.

Requests to IMAX and Paramount about this issue were unanswered as of press time. The official site, however, was launched weeks back with a link urging fans to report problems. That’s not something most movie promotions do and is a testament to quality control.

If this was anyone else but Christopher Nolan, we might consider it an anomaly. There are tons of logical explanations for the complaints: artistic choice, isolated technical issues, seating location in specific theaters, maybe even broken speakers. But this isn’t the first time Nolan has face such an issue. Remember the prologue for The Dark Knight Rises? Fans couldn’t understand Bane’s mumbled dialogue. Reports that Nolan would fix the mix made the filmmaker very mad. Nevertheless, the audio was easier to understand on final release.

“The sound mix is my favorite part of the process,” Nolan told Entertainment Weekly. “Your biggest creative decisions have been made—the shoot, the cut of the film—and you’re really in there putting the finishing touches on things or exploring different possibilities. It’s a time of pure imagination, where you can just play.” Maybe he’s just playing too much.

So does Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar have sound issues? We’ve provided evidence on both sides. Either way, if you plan on seeing the film, I can’t recommend the 70mm IMAX Experience enough. Even if the sound is a bit wonky, I literally felt my seat shake it was so loud. Plus the full IMAX footage is so clear and beautiful, it nearly brought a tear to my eye. It’s just unfortunate it also made me question my ears.

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