Two days ago, the musical score composed by musical-genius Hans Zimmer in Interstellar was released, which meant my bother and I spent hours listening to it on Youtube. I found this score much different than your average typical score. Unlike scores that operate as “background”, this score was so different that some viewers complained and thought that parts of film had “sound problems“. Critics like David Denby from the New Yorker said that the music was “delivered in rushed colloquial style” with “monstrous swells” of organ music that sometimes overmatched the words of the actors. What they don’t realize is that through his music, Zimmer was intentionally making them feel that way.
Interstellar sound designer Richard King explains that the sound was mixed in a way people aren’t used to. So you critics out there, know that you aren’t always supposed to understand the dialogue, because the movie is more concerned with conveying a broader emotional tone.
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 given by the actors’ emotion and performances.
In the score’s inception (no pun intended), Nolan hadn’t given Zimmer any info about the plot of the film. He only presented Zimmer with a challenge: to compose music to a fable he wrote about a father and child. When Zimmer presented Nolan with the music, the director revealed that this material would have to get a crew of astronauts to another galaxy and back.
After Nolan’s revelation, Zimmer said their conversation went something like this:
“Chris, hang on, I’ve just written this highly personal thing, you know?”
“Yes, but I now know where the heart of the movie is,” said Nolan.
Everything about this movie was personal.
After developing the love theme between father and child, Zimmer added in music for the universe. One of the central sounds is a ticking clock, which relates to the theme of time in the film. Another dominant voice is the organ.
There had to be virtuosity in it—the organ pumps are incredibly virtuosic. I wanted to show how amazing man can be. I wanted to show the best of man. And all the players were sort of working at an extreme of their capabilities, be it emotionally or be it technically.
Zimmer has reinvented his sound in this score, largely due to the challenge posed by the movie’s rich content. Physicists once thought space was empty; they now recognize it to be swarmed with virtual particles bursting in and out of existence. Such a surreal, invisible landscape is difficult to imagine, and so in accompaniment, Zimmer’s personal, bold, lovely, intelligent music coincides the film’s theme of being infinite, boundless and limitless.