Christopher Nolan makes some compelling movies (and some I can’t stand), but regardless of my thoughts I do not particularly enjoy watching any of them in the theaters. Why? Because I can’t hear the dialogue. Funnily enough, the person who wrote Nolan’s most famous musical scores agrees with me.
It’s a common complaint about Nolan’s directing, in my anecdotal experience: his audio mastering is off, favoring the music over the dialogue in a way that can sometimes render the latter unintelligible. Notably, Hans Zimmer thinks so, too. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, discussing some of The Dark Knight’s most iconic moments, Zimmer recalls complaining to Nolan about the same thing.
“I told Chris the music was too loud—you couldn’t hear the lines,” Zimmer said. “He said, ‘I wrote them. I can do what I want.’ He was right; people do remember the lines. He could have done 200 different cop-out endings, but he put that ending on. It’s hard to pull off a satisfying ending, if you’re that ambiguous. One second longer, or one sentence or note different, and it would have been a different movie.”
Well, in my experience, at least, the reason people remember the lines is because they watched the movie more than once. Subtitles are a godsend, after all. Still, I’m delighted to hear that even Zimmer thinks his score was maybe a bit too heavily emphasized in Nolan’s films.
But, hey, Nolan’s right. The director can do what he wants, for better, and for worse.