Six years ago theatrical viewers of Chris Nolan‘s Interstellar were put through a form of aural hell. Nolan, it was later revealed, had deliberately mixed the sound in a muddy, soupy, music-dominating way that made it awfully difficult to hear the dialogue. I watched it twice inside Hollywood’s TCL Chinese and had trouble with the dialogue both times. I also read that it drove many others crazy. **
It’s now being alleged on Twitter and by entertainment.ie’s Brian Lloyd that Tenet is another sound headache. The repeated claim is that some passages of expositional dialogue are difficult to decipher.
“The sound mix in Tenet is pretty awful,” Lloyd has written. “Explosions and Ludwig Goransson‘s soundtrack often drown out dialogue to a point of it being unintelligible. At least one key scene involving some pretty key story points is done during wind-sailing over a crackling intercom system.
“It’s so bad, in fact, that we had to view the movie twice. The sound mixing was that terrible the first time around so it required a second viewing. Our first viewing on the movie was done with a 35mm print, while the second viewing was a DCP [presentation].”
In a Reddit q & a, Nolan’s sound designer Richard King, who mixed Tenet as well as Dunkirk and Interstellar, explained Nolan’s concept as follows:
“Chris is trying to create a visceral emotional experience for the audience, beyond merely an intellectual one. Like punk rock music, it’s a full-body experience, and dialogue is only one facet of the sonic palette. He wants to grab the audience by the lapels and pull them toward the screen, and not allow the watching of his films to be a passive experience.
“If you can, my advice would be to let go of any preconceptions of what is appropriate and right and experience the film as it is, because a lot of hard intentional thought and work has gone into the mix.”
Here are some Twitter captures:
** I’ll never forget, by the way, how certain HE commenters insisted back in ’14 that it was mostly my fault for having bad hearing.