Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar has accurately captured how, in space, no one can hear you scream, or mumble in a Matthew McConaughey drawl, or indeed, do much of anything. Frankly, space is a real fucking headache, and God’s always practicing his damn organ; it’s why we moved to Earth. But despite Interstellar’s precise depiction of this scientific fact, that hasn’t stopped others from claiming that the movie is just too darn loud—so loud that it’s drowning out all the dialogue that they were hoping to pick apart and complain about.
Like previous charges that greeted Bane’s dialogue in The Dark Knight Rises, reports of Interstellar’s sound mixing issues arrived early. Both /Film and Uproxx say they witnessed preview screenings that blew out IMAX theater audio systems in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells, who saw it at the same L.A. theater, similarly complained that his screening was “so bassy and woofer-throbby and aimed at my rib cage that I couldn’t hear half the dialogue.”
Both Cinema Blend and /Film have since collected tweets from theaters all over the world of people complaining of sound that was too loud, too muddy, and too intrusive on the actors speaking and the corn a-rustlin’. Since then, the issue has sparked both articles like this one from The Washington Post calling it “a distressingly predictable ritual for Nolan’s movies,” and defenses like those in The Atlantic arguing that “the volume—and the way it occasionally drowns out everything else—seems to be the point,” with Hans Zimmer’s “thunderous, theater-shaking” organ score “conveying a sonic experience so powerful it overwhelms the tiny, logic-based details.” Besides, if the pipe organ’s too loud, you’re too old, man.
But after receiving its own complaints, one Cinemark theater in Rochester, New York, put up signs telling dissatisfied customers to take their complaints straight to Christopher Nolan. They should probably speak up:
Since those signs garnered national attention, a Cinemark spokesperson has told The Hollywood Reporter that, actually, there is no issue with the film’s sound, and that despite what the signs say, the complaints stemmed from “technical issues due to a hard-drive problem that have since been resolved.” The signs have reportedly been removed—though it’s possible they were just ripped down and wadded into makeshift earplugs.
Meanwhile, Billboard talked to one sound professional who preferred to remain anonymous, who suggested that “many others” in the Hollywood community have been debating Interstellar, with most agreeing that it’s puzzling any mixer—let alone Nolan’s veteran, Oscar-winning team—would have let the film out in this sort of state. So far, Nolan, Zimmer, and Paramount have yet to say anything. Or perhaps they did, only no one could hear them.
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