The apparent mumbling and muffled sound mix of dialogue in Christopher Nolan’s films is now a “thing”, officially a standing joke, a meme. From Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises to… well, Tom Hardy’s Farrier in Dunkirk, it is not just the masks. Maskless characters also seem to mumble or have murky dialogue.
Many people blame the sound mix. Now Nolan has given a very different reason for the dialogue. He refuses to use ADR. Additional Dialogue Recordings are a post-production tool used by everyone. As part of the standard post-production process actors will re-record their lines in a soundproof booth and this will often be dubbed over some of their performance in post to make things clearer. In an interview with Insider, Nolan explains why he doesn’t use it:
“I like to use the performance that was given in the moment rather than the actor revoice it later. Which is an artistic choice that some people disagree with, and that’s their right.”
He also went on to say that IMAX cameras are very noisy due to the size and scale of the mechanics at work, and in smaller scenes that are dialogue heavy this presents challenges.
“There are certain mechanical improvements, and actually, Imax is building new cameras right now which are going to be even quieter. But the real breakthrough is in software technology that allows you to filter out the camera noise.”
From The Dark Knight through to Oppenheimer, Nolan has been steadily increasing his use of IMAX and is seen as a champion of the format. Oppenheimer was almost entirely shot in IMAX leading to the famous shots of the gigantic finished movie in a huge can. Will the software develop to the point that Nolan’s famous murky dialogue can ever be fixed? Or will we keep getting more of this:
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