Tales from a bizarre ‘Interstellar’ screening

Something unusual occurred this week at the San Francisco IMAX press screening for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. 

With about 45 minutes left — in the middle of the film’s climax — sound ceased to exist.

For three minutes the film continued to roll on, our characters dangling in the galaxy saying things that were literally falling on deaf ears. Just images, in silence.

In a way, it was artful and poetic.

Eventually, the kind publicist informs us that they’re “fixing” the problem and that the movie will resume shortly. Then we hear that since Interstellar is shot on film, they can’t actually rewind the picture but that we’ll start from where we left off.

We wait for 25-30 minutes.

Finally the movie flickers back onto the screen with no sound, followed by some discordant dialogue taken from earlier scenes in the movie that have no relevance to what we’re currently watching. Then back to no sound, then Michael Caine’s voice.

There’s not a strong enough hallucinogen to make this experience coherent.

After about 5 minutes of things not working, they turn the film off. We’re then told that there will be an announcement soon. You know you’re in trouble when they’re making announcements about making an announcement.

Eventually they explain to us that there’s temporarily an insoluble problem with the film and that the screening is cancelled.

Unfortunately this is the only screening of Interstellar that SF has received.

This is how Nolan wanted us to experience his latest opus, right?


Two additional screenings were added for local press this afternoon and tomorrow night. Big thanks to responsive publicists. Review coming Sunday on SFBay.