Interstellar sound designer Richard King tells The Verge that you aren’t always supposed to understand the dialogue because the movie is more concerned with conveying a broader emotional tone. “We mixed this in a way that people aren’t used to,” King says. “It’s more about the experience. The visceral experience of the movie. Being with it. Allowing yourself to be carried along by it. Not grasping for every word, because some of the words are intentionally downplayed in favor of the emotion of that moment give by the actors’ emotion and performances.”
This bugged me as I watched the movie, but I like the movie more now for knowing why the sound was the way it was.
The reason I do is because it’s forcing me to be less neurotic in a way that many other technological shifts are allowing me to be. I’ve switched from broadcast television to internet streaming, and from radio broadcast to podcasts – essentially the shift being from an always on medium you tune into to an on demand medium where you can play what you want when you want. Being able to control playback gives me the ability to go back and correct for shoddy listening, i.e. to rewind and replay content when I think I’ve missed something. And often the cognitive load of doing this is not worth the completeness of consumption. Instead it allows the OCD part of my mind to take over the flow part of my mind. I don’t know very much about how the brain works but I think there’s something to be said for an effort that forces us to just be – be engaged in the moment, which interestingly does not equate to listening to it fully.