Composer Hans Zimmer Speaks Out Against 'Interstellar' Sound Critics
/Film collected a number of critics and fans around the world who claimed their showings included muddled audio and overpowering music that drowned out dialogue at points in the film.
In response to viewer complaints, a theater in upstate New York posted a sign on its door clarifying there were no issues with the theater’s sound equipment and that director Christopher Nolan “mixed the soundtrack with an emphasis on the music.”
During Saturday's press day for "Interstellar," we asked the film's composer Hans Zimmer about his reaction to sound complaints. The film is the composer's fifth collaboration with Nolan after "The Dark Knight" trilogy and 2010's "Inception."
"We tried to push the boundaries," Zimmer told Business Insider. "[Nolan and I] were getting the same sort of comments on 'Inception'” says Zimmer. "'Inception' was really incomprehensible to a large amount of people and the size of 'Inception,' or the ideas and the underlying metaphors were really incomprehensible."
Zimmer recalled something he told Nolan while working on that soundtrack:
"Pretend the music is a river and the audience is on this boat and it’s going to go down this river and the river is going to go inevitably. There’s no stopping it. Sometimes it’s going to get a little bumpy and sometimes it’s going to get a little incomprehensible, but what I want to do is I want to take you on a journey. I want to take you on a journey that you haven’t been on. And, I want to take you on an adventure. And it’s not a science class. These days we’re being fed nothing but information, but emotionally, I think we get less and less experience in anything because … everything is so cleaned up and we’re losing the edge … the mystery of things."
Similarly, Zimmer says both he and Nolan wanted to take audiences on a journey on the big screen with "Interstellar."
"We want it to be bold. We were aiming for the best sound systems," said Zimmer. "And, yes, it was really important for me that people wouldn’t hear this music detached from the movie for the first time on their little computer speaker because that’s not what it was designed for."
"I want to go and write music that announces to you that you can feel something. I don’t want to tell you what to feel, but I just want you to have the possibility of feeling something." — Hans Zimmer, composer
"Of course, now, suddenly there is a story that some people couldn’t understand the words [of 'Interstellar']," added Zimmer. "When I go and see a great opera I usually can’t understand the words anyway but I’m still on this amazing emotional journey. What I’m interested in ultimately is quite simply this: I want to go and write music that announces to you that you can feel something. I don’t want to tell you what to feel, but I just want you to have the possibility of feeling something. What you feel is what you bring to it. I want you be a co-conspirator in the music, and in a funny way, a co-creator in it."
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Nolan broke his silence on the film's sound saying it's "exactly as he intended." Nolan emphasized Zimmer's points about the marriage of the film’s picture and sound coming together to create a bold adventure.
"Many of the filmmakers I’ve admired over the years have used sound in bold and adventurous ways," Nolan told THR. "I don’t agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue. Clarity of story, clarity of emotions — I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal — picture and sound."
"The idea is to experience the journey the character is going on," he said. "[For instance] the experience of being in the cockpit is you hear the creaking [of the spacecraft]; it’s a very scary sound. We wanted to be true to the experience of space travel. We wanted to emphasize those intimate elements."
"We mixed for months and months and we talked about everything," Nolan added. "We must have mixed this film over six months. It was a continuous, organic process and discussion."
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