A few days ago marked the 1,000th time I’ve seen one of my favorite films, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.
While that number is an obvious hyperbole, it feels like I’ve seen it that many times and every time I sit and watch it, I love a new aspect of it.
Admittedly, I dont think it’s the greatest movie. There is a lot of cheesy dialogue and, to me, the events in the film’s ending appear a little bit too convenient for my taste.
Storytelling issues aside, it’s visually and audibly one of my favorite movies to watch.
I could talk about the visuals alone for hours upon hours. It’s such a near-perfect example of what it looks like to properly use a blend of CGI and practical effects to tell a story. What has always set this film apart in my mind, however, is the sound.
Sound is one of the most important elements in filmmaking that takes a film from good to great. It can make or break a film and often goes overlooked by viewers.
Whether it’s the ignition of a lightsaber in Star Wars or the swelling theme of John Williams’ Jurassic Park score, music and sound design can take us back to our favorite movie-going experiences.
Cinematography is the key element of making any film. You simply can’t call it a film without it, but to my mind, sound and music are what can plunge us deep into the world that the filmmaker has created and is attempting to share.
Interstellar is full of moments that are exponentially enhanced by the film’s now-famous score composed by the award-winning Hans Zimmer.
When I originally saw the film in theaters, I watched it in IMAX, an expensive trip to the movie for sure, but as a massive fan of sound design and music (especially Hans Zimmer), it was well worth the nearly $20 I spent to see it.
At times, it’s frustrating to watch a film that is overreliant on its score. Some movies are riddled with moments that are hindered by how unnecessarily often music is used to attempt to tell the story.
Interstellar’s score is used precisely when it needs to be used and beautifully so, but it isn’t just the use of the score that makes this film so great.
The lack of music—or any sound for that matter—is what I believe is so important in this film particularly.
Interstellar’s main setting is in space, a void with no air and therefore, no sound, so what better way to portray that in film than with silence?
It sounds weird to say, but silence itself is, in a way, a sound, and at times, it can be deafeningly loud.
In Interstellar’s “quiet” moments, silence isn’t just the absence of sound, silence almost hits you like a wave, completely immersing you in the chaos of whatever is occurring or had just occurred on screen. That’s how it’s used so perfectly in this film.
I think it’s what films, especially these days, have been lacking to me.
Filmmakers are constantly trying to capture attention with quick edits and loud fast-paced action that can sometimes cause me to wonder if they actually have a story to tell at all behind all the noise.
Don’t get me wrong, I love action films. Mad Max: Fury Road and the John Wick series are recent examples of how good loud and fast-paced films can be while still telling an interesting story. But sometimes, reflecting in silence, even in the middle of a film, is what’s most important to me.
Some of my favorite films and film moments are surrounded by silence.
For me, I think silence breeds reflection in film. Some of my favorite character moments in any of my favorite movies are usually absent of music or much sound.
Of course, film is an art and art is largely subjective. Everyone will have their own view on things, but to me, a page can be taken from Interstellar’s book.
Allowing the audience to sit in silence is important at times. In some ways, silence can become the loudest thing about a film.