Film Dialogue Is Getting Harder to Hear
This is a trend I’d like to see end. For some modern directors the humans in the story and what they have to say or not say has become less important than the effects and the spectacle that the director can create. This is yet another reason that intense adult drama and storytelling has moved from Movies to Television.
In what is becoming a distressingly predictable ritual for Nolan’s movies, “Interstellar” has been dinged in recent weeks by critics and other gadflies for a muddy, thuddingly loud sound design, in which Hans Zimmer’s booming score (he’s all about that bass) and similarly thumping sound effects render spoken dialogue a submerged garble. The sound was “so bassy and woofer-throbby and aimed at my rib cage that I couldn’t hear half the dialogue,” complained Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffery Wells after an October screening. “My ears felt left out, not to mention the part of my brain that enjoys hearing words and sentences.”
When it comes to overseasoning the sonic soup, Nolan is in good company: Many people who went to see “Gone Girl” found themselves straining to make out just what Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike’s characters were saying during a pivotal scene when their characters meet at a New York cocktail party. Like Nolan, “Gone Girl’s” director, David Fincher, is well known for his densely layered sound mixes, which in this case included lots of “walla” (background chatter) and a captivating musical score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.