Can we talk about Christopher Nolan’s use of [strikethrough]music[/strikethrough] noise?
I think I’ve seen every Nolan movie, so I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. And Inception is legendary for it’s bwaaaaaaaws. But Dunkirk was ruined because of it’s sound, and I can’t figure out why nobody has slapped the sound mixer out of Nolan’s hands yet.
(fair disclosure, I saw this in IMAX, which may have been a needlessly brutal experience)
The bass in this movie is unrelenting. It feels like 80 or 90% of the movie is just seat rumbling bass, punctuated by Hans Zimmer’s “I start the tension at 9 and go up to 11” score. I don’t know if the bass is part of the Zimmer’s plan or if it’s added afterwards, but, in classic Nolan fashion, the intensity of the bass, and the crescendo of the score, have almost nothing to do with what’s happening on the screen. Rather than a build up of intensity to a key moment, Nolan builds up volume at random times, stretches it out for 20 minutes, ebbing and flowing, building to a moment of no great importance, only to quiet briefly before starting up again.
In previous movies I found it a somewhat amusing annoyance, but in Dunkirk, at least in IMAX, it ruined everything. It was so loud, so distracting, at times so painful, that I considered getting up and walking out. Why? WHY?! The frustrating thing is that this movie is chock full of brilliant sounds. The rumble of spitfires, the shriek of bombs, the sharp crack of bullets, all amazing, but mostly drowned out by an incomprehensible drone.
I wonder if that’s just you or the IMAX theater you went to. I went to a normal theater where the music wasn’t too loud and the sounds of war were a lot louder than the music growling in the background. Even so I’m not sure if I’d recommend the movie to people who hate Zimmer’s music. There’s not many quiet moments for sure.
And yeah those sounds were awesome, I don’t think I’ve ever heard guns sound quite like that in any movie before. Those wailing Stukas sent shivers down my spine, too.
Churchill says in Their Finest Hour that the RAF was taking on the Luftwaffe at 1:2 or 1:3. Two or three Germans were shot down for each RAF aircraft lost.
That may have been Churchill sounding his own horn.
FWIW, Stukas were notorious sitting ducks when faced with determined and well-trained fighter pilots. The Germans tried using them as strategic (rather than tactical) bombers in the Battle of Britain, and they were shot down like flies.
Nolan somehow manages to fuck up the audio mix on nearly everything he does. OP is not the first to notice or complain about it. And like a lot of incompetent artists, Nolan defends it as an artistic choice rather than simple aural malfeasance.