Inaudible dialogue, Bane, and The Dark Knight Rises

Feature Simon Brew 20 Jul 2012 - 16:15

Is it just Simon who's struggled to hear everything that's being said in The Dark Knight Rises? And does it matter?

Please note: there are no spoilers in this article, but our ongoing advice remains to watch The Dark Knight Rises before you read anything about it.

As some wise person once said, detectives don't ignore coincidences. Now, I'm no detective, but after leaving a screening of Christoper Nolan's Inception two years ago, I wrote a piece for this site entitled The Rising Problem Of Inaudible Dialogue. It's here.

To save you clicking that link, though, the gist was this. I saw Inception in the middle of a big cinema in the West End of London, and there were moments where, in spite of having what I've always regarded as decent hearing, I simply couldn't hear what was going on. In particular, Ken Watanabe's character, whose words were only revealed to me by watching the Blu-ray with subtitles on several months later.

I made the point then, as I'm about to make now, that it's little secret that the audio quality and balance in cinemas around the country, yet alone the world, is variable. But I heard the same issues from others who had seen Inception in all sorts of cinemas, as well as from a bunch of people who thought I was clearly bonkers. I'm fully expecting the same reaction again now, as well as recommendations to get my ears syringed. But here goes.

I saw The Dark Knight Rises at the BFI's wonderful IMAX cinema in Waterloo, London. It's a treat of a place to go, and I've never had a problem with any film I've seen or heard in there before.

Appreciating, then, that there were much-talked-about issues with the audibility of Tom Hardy's Bane character just from the prologue, screened for the first time before Christmas, I was surprised at just how much of what he was saying I still managed to miss – that the key antagonist of the film is sometimes such a struggle to understand.

Hardy has a tough job in The Dark Knight Rises, having his face covered by a mask for the film's duration. And work was apparently done after the initial reaction to the prologue to make what he was saying a little clearer. I did find much of his dialogue easy to follow, but there were parts of the film where I found him simply incomprehensible. And without the benefit of being able to read his lips, thanks to the aforementioned mask, I fear I'm awaiting the Blu-ray release and the subtitles button again.

I've checked with friends and colleagues who have seen the film on different screens, and have a cross-section of opinion in return. It seems a 50/50 split once more - as it was with Inception - between those who had no problem, and those who did. That's even amongst those who were in the same screening as me, oddly enough.

But I don't think I'm alone, and I do think there's clearly a problem here.There are, it seems, too many people reporting identical issues. Furthermore, at times, Hans Zimmer's score - as it was in Inception - is so dominating that it's at the occasional expense of picking up other things that are going on. It's not just Bane's dialogue that I hit problems with, as one or two other lines here and there seemed to be lost in an ongoing swirl of noise.

There is an argument that suggests, incidentally, that it's not important to hear every word that Bane's saying in the film. I don't agree with it, but I've heard it a few times as a counterpoint, and appreciate that, again, not everyone will feel the same way as me about that. Hence it seems fair to include it.

Over the past couple of years since I wrote the original piece, I've not had quite the same level of problem with inaudible dialogue that I was having then. Certainly, there's not been quite so much mumbling in recent blockbusters, with Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson's B.A. in The A-Team movie arguably the peak of this 'what on earth did they just say' syndrome.

I wonder, though, if lots of you are experiencing the same thing with The Dark Knight Rises that I did, and if there are any more recent films where you've experienced such a problem? I appreciate inaudible dialogue is never going to be a top trending topic or anything like that, but it's one of my main bugbears with modern cinema when it rears its head. If you'd take the time to post below, it'd be appreciated. No spoilers, though.

That, or feel free to tell me my ears need cleaning...

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I personally did not have any problems understanding any of the dialogue.

I heard 95% of banes dialogue but there were a few times I missed a few words, everytime he came on screen I found myself holding my breath and tilting my ear to the screen just incase I missed anything.

I did have a problem and from a storytelling level impacted the film for me. I watched this at Croydon Grants with a very well behaved audience. Their are a number of reasons I found the film dissapointing and this only helped to contribute.

I suffered the same thing. most of the opening scene was lost on me and yes /-
me and my bro discussed going back to concentrate on dialogue as a lot of what Bane said was missed.

Having just seen The Dark Knight Rises I can agree that some of Bane's dialogue was a little muddy at times. That said, I don't think it detracted from the film too much and may actually have added to the menace in places; chances are a character faced with the towering monstrosity of the villain may have difficulty comprehending what is being spoken and certainly I felt an aspect of that transferred over.

Inception was considerably worse off in the strained hearing department though.

I missed a few words, but I don't think it was as bad as it was made out to be, I was worried about not being able to understand him, but 95% of the time there was no problem!

I understood most of the dialogue, but there were a few occasions where it was difficult to understand Bane. I didn't find it too much of a hindrance though, thoroughly enjoyed the film.

I agree. Bane's audio, although understandable for the most part, was definitely hard to pick up at points - mainly in his first scene (I won't spoil it :P ) and the part where he's speaking through the PA system mid-way through the film. And Yes! Ken Watanabe in Inception, I could have almost been fooled into thinking he wasn't speaking English for the whole film! I love Zimmer's soundtrack but our cinema just seems to.set the volume so loud that you're inadvertently wincing during the more bombastic moments which takes away from what's happening on-screen. Great films though!

once or twice I couldn't understand what Bane said, but the only thing that confused me was I couldn't recogise Tom Hardy's voice at all. I thought that his voice was just way too over synthisized every time he spoke.

I maybe missed a word or two, but nothing that marred my enjoyment of an otherwise phenomenal experience.

Pretty much the same. There were a couple of times where I reflected on how rubbish it would be to be one of his henchmen. Partly for reasons other than audibility, in fairness.

I agree totally with you - watched the movie in IMAX at Finchley, and I could barely hear Bane's every second word - different people in our group heard him to differing degrees, but personally, although it didn't detract from the tension or menace of Bane, it did make the plot difficult to follow at times....

Just back from seeing it, good, not great (8/10 for me) Agree with some views in here, Bane's voice rather silly with the synthesis. TBH, some of his words I bet, were changed from the original dialogue. Anyone agree?

I could hear all of Bane's dialogue very clearly. And I thought his voice sounded great. Very intimidating. There was only one line I couldn't hear and that was Fox... He was talking quietly to Bruce and the music was just a touch too loud for his delivery.

I had no problem understanding Bane. The score was a bit overpowering at times, but I had no real complaints. I managed to see it three times today and I understood the first time and then on the second and third viewings, I didn't have to concentrate as much and found it very easy to follow.

I reckon I missed almost 10 per cent of the dialogue, what with Bane's muffled voice, Fox talking too quietly whilst the music boomed, and even had trouble with Bale's Batvoice sometimes. I think the audio mix is imperfect to start with, and then it just depends on the theatre (and i was unlucky enough to be in a bad one maybe, despite the fact it's a digital cinema and only two years old...)

I didn't have any issue with Inception, but I did have issue with TDKR. Bane, for the most part, was fine, but there were a few times where I had to infer what he had said.

I also saw both in the same IMAX Theatre at midnight.

i think he was pretty intelligible in the final mix.having seen the prologue at xmas and thought that the mix was loud and messy i was surprised how easy it was to follow.and even if its just me i thought bane's delivery added some necessary levity (eg "what a lovely,lovely voice")

Agree on the score although it wasnt as deafening as Inception's.Cor blimey that was an earache.

I struggled also.. But when I thought what he was saying.. It came to me.

I have learned the name of my Bane....

Watched both inception and TDKR at IMAX and agree that both were hard to understand at times. Bane was a struggle though clearly a better remix than the prologue. However I found other characters tricky because of the overpowering music at times.

Like a lot of you, I picked up 95% of Bane. I actually thought his voice was too loud in the mix, very bassy anyway. No Country for Old Men on the other hand was practically a foreign film for me.

I had trouble at a few places making out dialogue, but more with Gordon and occasionally Batman than Bane. Banes voice - to me - seemed that it had been amped up so much in post production to avoid the complaints they'd had before that it didn't sound like it could possibly be coming from that person. As if he always had a mic behind that mask.

I don't know what anyone is on about? I saw the film today and had no problem hearing any of Banes words. I think he was an amazing character portrayed by Tom Hardy perfectly, could not of been better in the slightest.

2/5 people i went to see the movie with had trouble understanding some of Bane's dialogue

I agree - I struggled close to half the time he was speaking (saw it in IMAX in Australia). I've heard his voice described as Sean Connery vs Darth Vader and I think thats pretty darn accurate. Didn't want to miss things by concentrating too hard on listening though. Bring on the subtitled Blu-ray

It wasn't just Bane for me. I had a hard time with a lot of the dialogue throughout the movie. Maybe it was our theatre, or maybe I'm going deaf, but the music drowned out a lot. I'd say I couldn't understand 20% of the talking in the film. :P Which made it way less enjoyable.

I always have to watch DVDs at home with subtitles. It truly is a problem with understanding the words clearly. I can hear that someone is speaking, but I'm not always able to discern the words.

There were a few scenes where I was like "I need subtitles." I agree about the music sometimes being too loud to make out what he said. It was a combination of the accent plus whatever they used to make his voice sound like it was coming through that mask, almost Darth Vader like. I'd say I understood about 80-90% of what he said.

yes, In the opening scene I noticed a grand difference. He said things weird, but I remember when I saw the Prologue he said "Of course, Dr. Pavel refused our offer in favor of yours; we had to find out what he told you about us." But in the film he dropped the last two words....I wonder why

Very disappointed in TDKR. I didn't have a problem with Inception, but I had a massive problem understanding Bane, and at times Batman. Bane's voice sounded over-worked in parts where it felt like it had been touched up and amped up so much it was distorted beyond comprehension. Other times the score drowned out what Bane or even Batman were saying. I don't agree with those who say it doesn't matter if you don't understand everything - what is the point of dialogue in a movie if you don't know what they're saying. Making an audience "work" just so they can hear the words from a character who sounds like a combination of Kenny from South Park vs Sean Connery is just a coverup for a poor effort on the audio finishing. A couple of times I couldn't piece together what was said and I had NO IDEA what was going on. Straining to hear the dialogue for close to 3 hours was tiring, overall the audio of the film appeared to be poorly done/rushed/unfinished. Don't get me started on the scripting....

IMAX in Finchley? I think there's been some confusion there!

I had this problem with Matt Smith's first series of Dr Who. everything just seemed to have a really muddy sound.

I only had problems when Zimmer's score started blasting.

Watched it last night. No problem understanding the dialogue (even Bane)

I agree completely! I could understand most of what Bane said, but occasionally it would be so muddled as to sound like things that it certainly was not (for instance, it sounded like he said something about SeaWorld in one bit, which I find fairly unlikely!). The music was a bit loud for the dialogue at times as well.

I saw the film in an IMAX screen in Uxbridge and there were a number of occasions where I struggled to make out what Bane was saying. I thought maybe it had been caused by the soundtrack being loud or the volume in general being very loud (you can crank up the sound on your television or home cinema setup at home so that you can hear things better, but they in fact become distorted and more difficult to hear, particularly dialogue).
The point has been made that, because Bane's mouth is covered, you are unable to use his lip movements as an aid. The fact that you can't do this perhaps emphasises how much a lot of us rely on this.
I am seeing it again this Sunday in a smaller cinema so should be interesting to see if I get the same problem there.
Great film though!

I have excellent hearing but American film and TV just leaves me bemused and flicking through the hearing aid adverts in the Sunday glossies. I don't know whether that being a native UK English speaker is part of it and I can't 'translate' American accents, in the same way I struggle a bit with thick Scots or Yorkshire, or simply that they're going for naturalistic, muttered dialogue.

Certainly, any distinct words that do make it through are usually drowned out by the foley and/or background music!

The main problem was the appalling sound mixing. The music was far too loud and made it near impossible to hear what ANY of the characters were saying at some points, notably in a chase scene near the beginning. Bane's voice had obviously been overdubbed in post-production which was a real shame, to me it sounded so fake - it was clear that what we were hearing was Tom Hardy in a studio as opposed to Bane in Gotham. I was slightly disappointed with the film in general to be honest, but not being able to hear what anyone was saying really made it just infuriating

I loved the first two films in the trilogy but I have to say I was very underwhelmed here. I don't know if it's an issue that the movie has been so hyped for the last year and that it has so much to live up to following The Dark Knight but I really didn't enjoy the film. I was bored after an hour into it and praying that something phenomenal would happen in the remaining hour and 45 minutes that I was going to be sat in my seat. Most of the acting was superb but the storyline was very weak. The music was far too loud and there was what seemed like a constant duh-duh-duh suspense typed sound throughout the whole movie that I still have stuck in my head now! Very underwhelmed...

there was no problem in understanding the dialouges,and also we had subtitles in ind

No question that people are still struggling to understand Bane.

It wasn't completely obscured, but it was enough to make it difficult to understand every word.

There's an IMAX screen at Odeon on Finchley Road....

i saw the prologue preciew last year and the film this morning both on the same IMAX at Waterloo BFI and they did beef up Hardys voice. i couldnt understand a word he said last year on the preview. On the finished film it was clearer but there were still a few muffled bits.

I thought it was just me, but I made a comment to my friend who was viewing the movie with me, "I need to see it again because I missed some of Bane's Dialogue."

I had problems understand Bane, Gordon when he was in the hospital, and at some times Bruce (not as Batman). But then again, I have bad ears.

Talia's death scene, amateur hour , very poor performance there by her.

i understood everything bane said just fine and thought hardy's delivery was perfect. it seems like a silly thing to complain about really when the movie had SOOOOOO many major problems that werent related to this....

I had some trouble understanding him. I also had trouble understanding how Batman, with no money and not so much as a cell phone, got from that jail in the middle of the dessert in some other country all thw way back to Gotham in like ten minutes.

It may be as simple as the fact that we all have different levels of hearing, but I also had a lot of trouble hearing Bane's voice and a lot of key dialogue due to Hans Zimmer's score and bad audio mixing. I had a similar problem in Inception, though I was in the front row in both instances and I wonder if that has an impact in the audio quality as well.

At the same time, I haven't had this problem with movies nearly as much as Inception and the Dark Knight Rises, so I have to think that Nolan himself, with final say over the final cut, must just have exceptionally precise hearing. Still, he really needs to make sure the rest of us can understand what's going on in his film.

He could have sounded a bit less like an oil prospecting Sean Connery in my opinion.

I could understand most of the dialogue, but not all of it. What anooyed me more was that his speech had no direction. With modern audio system these days you can generally tell who is talking just by the direction of it, but when he spoke it was like it was coming out of all the speakers at once - took a bit of getting used to!

I had serious problems the first hour with Bane and on the odd occasion with other characters, as the film went on I got used to the voice and it was better but right up to the end of the the film there were still snippets of diaogue I had trouble with. For the record I had no problems with either Dark Knight Rises or Inception at the cinema.

Had not problem with legibility anywhere in the film. I wouldn't have even thought to comment on it if a friend hadn't asked in reference to this article. Didn't have any trouble with Inception ether come to think of it.

Bruce Willis has made a living off of whispering (inaudibly) his way through films, it's his go-to move for depicting any emotion.....maybe that's why Demi left him for a loud mouth.

I had NO clue what Bane was saying during every scene that he did not yell the dialogue. That was the only time it was clear what the hell he was saying. But once he became quiet again, nope. No clue. On top of that, I have almost no idea how or why he had the mask. I know they explained it but I just could not understand what they were saying.

It's not just you. Either Christopher Nolan has the worst sound team in the movie industry, or they're deliberately making terrible, TERRIBLE sound choices. If you really carefully listen to the Dark Knight on Blu-Ray, and then listen to a movie with really great sound, you realize that it's one of the worst in the business. With all of the high-end recording equipment, editing equipment, and the ability to re-dub dialog that filmmakers have at their disposal, there is NEVER any excuse to have dialogue that is inaudible.

The main issue with Nolan's films is that they seem to have made the choice to prioritize the music all over the place. The music is mixed to the right and left speakers, and the dialog is mixed to the center, as it should be. Crafty mixing engineers, however, will make "dips" in the music to allow the dialog to come front and center, without losing the impact of the music. Nolan's people make no such allowances. The music is just loud, louder, LOUDER, and the dialog always seems like an afterthought.

Watch something like any one of the Lord of the Rings movies. Even with horrible orc voices, goblins, and everything else, I dare you to pick out a SINGLE time where you can't understand what a character is saying, and those are some of the most intense movies in cinema. You just can't justify these crappy choices in my book.

Missed a couple of lines...but I think it was purely down to his mouth being covered. He had excellent diction for a criminal type.
Might have been nice to have had some sort of mesh type affair over his gob...hinting at the scarred chops below. Thinking Shredder in Turtles movies.
Sometimes his dialogue seemed a bit divorced from the action...a bit too ADR. Does anyone know if Hardy performed the voice?

He did perform the voice, but I can assure you that every single line was overdubbed. His voice from under the mask would not have sounded anything like it did in the film. The mask was made for visuals, and probably from plastic. It would have muffled everything to a totally different degree, and wouldn't have matched with any of the overdubbed sections.

Thank goodness thought I was going deaf

Your ears must be as filthy as mine then. I saw the film today on an IMAX screen here in Canada and, well, I think I could clearly hear about a quarter of Bane's dialogue. I'm chalking it up to the theatre's sound system only because the projector they used to present the film was clearly as filthy as my ears. Dust and other spots on the film were rampant on the picture, annoyingly distracting me from the action. If a theatre doesn't know how to project a film properly, I doubt they know how to calibrate accurately as well.

If a theatre doesn't know how to project a film properly, I doubt they know how to calibrate *sound * accurately as well.

I did have some difficulty hearing some of the dialogue (it wasn't just in the Bane scenes) but I figure that might've been more to do with the fact I have less than average hearing rather than just because of Bane's mask. Amazing film anyway.

I would say 4 maybe 5 points in the movie I missed one word in a sentence Bane had said. Other than that I thought it was fine.

In Finland we always have subtitles so I had no problems with Bane dialogue. The movie was really great, I hope we could see more movies like this without the Hollywood flair and US flags.

Just saw it and had difficulty not only with Bane, but with a lot of the dialogue when the action was happening and Hans was drubbing bass at us. Don't get me wrong, I love the music, but the audio mixing was crap. I can't believe how hard it was to hear/understand dialogue. My wife complained too, so I know I'm not alone!

I think part of the blame lies with movie theaters. I saw TDKR on Friday in one theater, and the audio was beautiful. Even during Zimmer's thunderous score I was able to hear things great.

But then I saw it this evening in a different theater and they had it all messed up. The music was ALL you heard. During the film's final 10 minutes, I barely heard one word.

Theaters need to take exercise better control of their audio levels just as much as filmmakers do.

I saw the film at an IMAX theater and had great difficulty hearing the dialogue. This was the result of both unintelligible dialogue from Bane speaking through a mask, Batman speaking in his altered Batman voice, Gordon speaking in hushed tones and a soundtrack that was so loud and bassy that it overpowered the words at times. Had no trouble with Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or Anne Hathaway. Didn't have nearly as much trouble with Inception...which was a much better movie. However, did not see Inception in IMAX. I have super sensitive "rabbit ears". Perhaps IMAX causes greater problems by amplifying bass thus overwhelming words. Also, the soundtrack was much more subtle in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

I had trouble with MIranda's dialogue. Plus..was it just me or did anyone spot an Easyjet plane in the airport scene?

Was hit and miss for me in Hoyts Liemax (Australia) with thumpingly loud Cinemaxx sound. Music could have been toned down a little. Didn't matter though as I got the general idea of what Bane was saying anyway. Hardy was a beast!

The film has been released with subtitles in theaters in India, probably following feedback regarding the inaudible dialogues.

I'm not hard of hearing, never had issues. I saw TDKR in Hartford, CT and I could understand only about a quarter of what Bane said, it was very frustrating and ruined the movie for me.

I could not hear half of what people were saying . The background sound was loud and the talking quiet... I had to ask the cinema if there was a issue with there setup. Also im the fight scene it was so tinny

I saw the film at a small cinema with a group of teenagers (it was a school trip ok?). I certainly felt that the two main complaints in Simon's article are relevant. Bane was very difficult to comprehend, and not just because he sounded like Sean Connery speaking through a tin can. I think his dialogue was important - why wouldn't it be - and the inability to comprehend some of it was a disadvantage. Possibly worse, the score - which I liked and enjoyed - was allowed to pound its way through several pieces of dialogue-based film; it was almost as if Christopher Nolan didn't care if we picked up on the conversation, as his intention was to bash us into submission with the music. Overall, then, I thought there was a definite imbalance in the audio between dialogue and music, weighted too much in favour of the music, which took over rather than supported the film. I should add that the accompanying teenagers disagreed with me, producing their own variants of "get your ears syringed grand-dad".

for me Bane was on the whole easy to understand, and when i saw the prologue with MI: Ghost Protocol i couldn't understand him at all. However It was at certain points with Marion Cotillard & Morgan Freeman the music seemed way too loud and drowned out their dialogue, and then again towards the end with everyone!! all of us at my showing had the same problem, then my partner went to same cinema but different screen and same again!!!

I couldn't understand the asian dude in Inception either. Christopher Nolan doesn't care about understandable dialogue.

i love the other films but the sound caused me to hate sitting there i ended up complaining.. the point were i can hear the music but can hear talking wtf is going on
twitter #darkknightrisesound

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Either Christopher Nolan has the worst sound team in the movie industry, or they're deliberately making terrible, TERRIBLE sound choices. If you really carefully listen to the Dark Knight on Blu-Ray, and then listen to a movie with really great sound, you realize that it's one of the worst in the business." Yeah... No. The Dark Knight, on both Blu-ray and DVD, has one of the finest audio mixes I've ever heard. Ditto Inception and Batman Begins, actually. And it's not just me saying that, go look at reviews on sites such as DVDTalk and High Def Digest, the experts agree. To sump up, you either have no idea what you're talking about or you have your equipment set up correctly.

There's a problem with badly mixed audio on quite a few DVDs, too - Specifically "From Paris With Love" (where the EQ on the audio makes it sound like it's an echo chamber, and Very quiet) , the two discer of "Deer Hunter" and "Open Range" especially - "Open Range" is SO incredibly quiet It's unwatchable on the Uk release. (Though on the audio commentary, its fine). I ended up getting the R1 of open Range simply to be able to watch the bloody movie. Unbelievable, and complete negligence from studios. neither of which could be considered artistic decisions.

I think it's the problem with theaters.

I have this problem with all of Nolan's films. It's not so much an actor mumbling or the soundtrack being distracting but that Nolan's films are mixed poorly. audio of different characters in the same scenes at different volumes (Bane sounds like he's being dubbed in from a loudspeaker on the other side of the room) and the dialogue is consistently mixed lower than the sound effects.

The dialogue was, for the most part clear, but there were some moments when he talks fast that the words get garbled. I still understood what he was implying so it wasn't too much of an issue. Bane's voice sounded a lot like Sean Connery talking through Darth Vader's mask. It was enjoyable and kept my attention.

i agree with you, i had alot of issues hearing what bane said

Bane's audio was the least of the film's problems. How about a decent story?

I found the first 10 minutes pretty inaudible, and that wasn't just bane- the scientist and fbi guy i couldn't hear other the plane noise, batman was also hard to hear as well as other characters when sound effects in the background were going on. The dialogue in Nolan's films is always pretty complex, so i did feel slightly unsure what was happening in certain bits where i missed a few lines here and there.

Overall a good film, but the second film is still the best by a long way.

I also had problems understanding Bane, I caught only about 60% of what he was saying, which was frustrating because Tom Hardy portrayed it very well, and I would have liked to have understood more about what was going on! I don't agree with the idea that it's not necessary to hear every word; much of the time in that film I didn't understand what was going on due to key scenes being unintelligible. And yes, the same with Inception - I didn't realise Ken Watanabe was speaking English at first either!

I had some trouble understanding Bane. I think I understood about 85% of his words. But I loved how his voice sounded (the inflection and tone) and I don't think it was the actors fault. It's probably a compounding of all the problems; theatre sound balance, talking through a mask and uneven sound editing. I didn't see Inception in theatres so I can't really compare - but I think speaking through a mask is particularly hard to do and sound clear.

I've noticed the same issue. I'd say I could understand about 90% of what Bane, however, I don't remember having an issue with the music which is something I usually do have a problem with. All to often in recent movies the 'background' music hasn't been as background as it should be.

I have found Christian Bale's Batman "growl" inaudible since Batman Begins - so I dread to think what Bane's voice is going to be like - having not seen the film yet and so fed up with paying nearly £30 to see a film at the cinema I'll not bother and just crank up the volume and subtitles at home and annoy the neighbours :)

i thought the audio levels/mix on bane was terrible not because i couldnt hear what he was saying but because is was quite a few decibles louder then every other charecters in the room.. it was especially awful in the cia plane kidnapping scene where he had a mask and a bag over his head and there was engine noise and a door open :/

I thought the audio was a massive problem - I struggled to hear an awful lot of what was going on, not just Bane. If anything, because Hardy gave Bane such a singular, strange voice, I found him slightly easier to understand and differentiate. In some of the big action sequences especially (Lucius Fox at the reactor towards the end of the film standing out) you could see mouths moving, but hear nothing coming out. Certain scenes and characters were worse - a lot of Gordon's dialogue in particular I struggled with, but Blake and Kyle had their moments too. I've had friends report nothing of the sort though, but with my local multiplex it's definitely a problem with a lot of films, not just this one - anyone else have this problem with the Bath Odeon? I don't remember having a problem with Inception (which I saw in a different cinema, perhaps adding weight to the problem being the cinemas themselves) but strangely enough, I rewatched it on DVD recently and struggled to pick up a lot of what was said there too. Maybe it's just our ears...

Bane is not the only one hard to understand. I sometimes didn't understand what Gordon, Blake, Tate, the two old cellmates, or some of the other cops said. I don't know why. I just heard a garble and realized I had no idea what was happening because all the plot was being developed through talking.

That's pretty much precisely what I liked about it! :P

Bane sounded like SNL Celebrity Jeorpardy's Sean Connery doing Darth Vader.

Bane was often difficult to understand for me. And it never sounded like the score was too loud or overbearing, just that the dialogue was too quiet. I understand Nolan's thing about not needing to understand the speech, but if he's going for intelligent, understanding every word should be a must. Either clearer audio or less dialogue.

Didn't have a problem with the dialogue at all!

Seen the movie in Odeon a few hours ago; Audio quality was terrible to a point most dialogues were lost due to the crazy volume of background music. As for bane I could barely get what he was saying in most scenes.

Me and Devin just went to see this movie and we could not understand what Bane was talking about like 80% of the time. The 20% I could hear him right as rain but the rest it sounded like he was mumbling... Made me wish there was sub titles on it. I bet if we could understand Bane then the movie would have been more enjoyable instead of us struggling to understand what was going on... I hope that it was just the theater because if it isn't they really need to fix this "mumbling" before it goes on DVD or the movie is really going to be disappointing.

I thought bane sounded more like patrick stewarts american dad character!!! I also agree that the movies audio did not help understand certain parts of the plot, but still a good movie!

I caught it today at a Regal Cinema RPX theater. I couldn't understand about 25% of the dialogue and not just from Bane. After the movie, I asked others in attendence and they had the same problem. I mentioned this to a manager and he told me that it was the same thing in the "regular" theater. This, and the fact that people are reporting this problem from all over the world points to a problem in the audio mixing. Personally, at 12 bucks a shot, I expect better and I'm considering getting a refund.

Just watched this at the Giant Screen (formerly called IMAX) at Millenium Point, Birmingham. I could barely make out what bane was saying, could only making out about 30% of bane's dialogue. Apparantly the cinema had a brand new sound system put in as well.

at the start of the film, there is intensity. it's really disappointing that you can understand so little of the dialogue. in the middle of the film, there is dialogue with stock brokers. it is a KEY line that bane retorts the broker with and that was 100% inaudible. i had to come online to READ the line. this is ridiculous. i would say about 40% of the dialogue from bane was clear. that is unacceptable. the audience shouldn't have to struggle or "work" to try to hear what's going on. this isn't a ramshackle theater in joe blo the weed addict's garage. nolan has a knack for ruining the audio for some reason. from his ridiculous desire to give batman a raspy/sore throat voice, to drowning out bane's audio, to putting emphasis on the score rather than dialogue (story), he ruins what could have been close to perfect. not being able to hear the audio clearly ruined the film for me.

I think you didn't want to hear anything lol because it wasn't that hard to understand honestly whoever didn't hear and understand the dialogue didn't want to.

Bane is Sean Connery!!

there were a few times but its just one of those things where the first time you dont get it but the second time the dialogue was very clear. To me this is a movie you have to see twice to fully appreciate anyway but with regards to banes dialogue it is just a matter of paying attention when he speaks it is in bursts and it catches you off guard the first time but his speaches are very audible because you are specifically paying attention to him so i just think it is a matter of knowing where those quick hits were once i knew that I could understand everything perfectly.

I had this exact problem, and I found this article by googling "Dark knight rises music drowning out dialogue" to see whether it's just me. I don't understand why EVERY conversation needs to be backed by some dramatic score - it takes any realism out of it. Sometimes a realistic conversation without music builds more tension! The X-Files was an early example of this problem.

In short, yes, it genuinely spoiled bits of it for me. Though in all fairness it was a pretty poor film all in all. I didn't really care what happened to anyone at any time, it was all a bit meh.

What a ridiculous comment.

I thought the audio mix throughout the film was bad; both my friend and I had trouble understanding dialogue in multiple places because the score/other sound effects were too loud. And Bane was practically impossible to understand. I think I got about 40% of what he said. Very frustrating. I saw this in an Imax theater, fairly close to the screen, and I wondered if it mattered where in the theater you were sitting; it seemed like people further back were laughing at some lines that I couldn't make out.

It was horrible. I could only make out about 20% of what Bane was saying due to his mask...and there were times when other people were drowned out by the score. A movie that should have been a 8-9 rating dropped to a 6 because of that...IMO

well i agree wid AC and Elliot ... its a really great movie n bane (tom Hardy ) play a amazing role . n d wording was very much clear .

We saw Dark Knight last evening at our local cinema - Bane almost totally incomprehensible (I checked this with my wife who is a good deal younger than me to make sure it wasn't just me), but also Oldman mumbling through his hospital scenes and Bale doing that stupid throaty rasp when in character as Batman. This is a growing problem for me, and no less a luminary than John Cleese is in agreement, having said he will no longer visit the cinema due to the inability of sound editors to make the dialogue stand out from the (often pretty invasive) background noise, a problem which made the already badly recorded dialogue worse in this case, and effectively spoilt what would have otherwise have been a pretty decent film.. It's reminiscent of the time in the 80s/90s where lighting engineers shot scenes so dark you couldn't make out what was going on - a fad which happily seems to have passed now. Roll on the day when directors and sound editors realise that we need to hear the dialogue (Bone Collector is possibly the worst example ever of this problem) and return us all to clear, well mixed soundtracks.

I couldn't barely hear any of the dialogue, glad it wasn't just me.

Bane is the easiest to hear, it was some of the other dialog on 3 or 4 occasions that the music was too loud to understand the words.....such as when batman and catwoman make a few quips to each other as they are walking.outside before the big battles.
I expect things will improve on the blu-ray.

I had the same problem (in the states).... so thank you for this article. i too thought maybe I was insane. I went as far as to talk to the theater manager about it. After assuring me they have all their audio equipment set up correctly, they gave me free tix for a second viewing... where I again found the problems. However, I can only think of one or maybe two places where I couldn't follow Bane's dialogue. I did however, have a hell of a time hearing others speak. At least 4 or 5 times throughout the movie, the score (music) was just too loud that I couldn't tell what the cast was saying. I couldn't believe this was actually part of the movie. It seemed as if someone turned the volume up on the surround speakers and lowered the volume on the center channel. So I don't have a problem with Bane (although I thought his old voice before it was changed was more menacing), I did have a HUGE problem with the score being too loud while people were speaking. Usually they unnoticeably lower the score volume during dialogue... apparently not in this movie.

I struggled to hear a lot of the film too and not just Bane, the dialogue in general sounded really quiet. I'd assumed it was the cinema but it appears not.

As someone else said there are some really strong paralells between Nolan's films and Matt Smith's first series of Doctor Who, which shared this odd audio mixing problem, and I can't say I've noticed it anywhere else . Both Nolan's films and Moffat's Who share an additional similarity - they require two or more viewing to understand everything that is going on because they throw in so many plot points! I love his Who, but I was really disappointed with this movie after the amazing Dark Knight.

I totally agree that Bane was hard to hear and understand. To me he sounded like Sean Connery through a bad intercom.

I also would have enjoyed the film much more hadn't I struggled understanding Bane's lines (and some other characters' too). At time it was complete mumble. The score was too loud as well. Sometimes it drowned out the dialogue completely. I'm glad I'm not the only one who found it troublesome.

the conversation between gordon and blake in blakes apartment is practically inaudible

I searched for inaudible purposefully. My husband and I both had issues hearing a lot of bane's dialogue. I've never had so many problems hearing in a theatre and was starting to get frustrated. Clearly there were issues.

My thoughts exactly

soundtrack over-powered the narrative - an issue which should have been fixed in post-production so it would work in any cinema no matter what it's spec... poor form not to catch it.

Didnt anyone who went with a buddie have a different opinion to their co?

I have trouble believing anyone in my theatre went through it with ease!! My father struggled and i struggled and I notticed other people complaining after the film when i thought i must be alone on this on

I actually thought it was the sound system - right throughout the film it sounded like the sorrund sound wasn't functioning correctly and therefore was all/mostly crunched through the centre speaker which would put balances out.

This was chronic for me - DESTROYED THE WHOLE MOVIE FOR ME

I dont even know what bane was angry about or what everyone was doing helping him. and i dont think most of the people in the theatre did either. He sounded like a shitty cam recording

Thank you so much for this post. I'm a non-native English speaker, so it's even harder to keep up in movies, but this is the first time I really missed my home country's subtitles.
It felt like In almost every dialogue there were at least a couple of lines I couldn't understand, especially with Bane, but with any other character as well.
I've seen other movies in this great IMAX in Boston, but never struggled that way.
Nevertheless, I think the movie is great!

Seconded.

Oh gosh - *thank you*. I didn't have a scooby-doo what the hell Gordon was hissing in that scene. Altho by that point I was already so guttingly disappointed with the movie I pretty much didn't care (which is another thread entirely).

I saw the dark knight rises today at the BFI IMAX too and you can guess why I found your article - I too could not understand because it was too distorte. Really frustrating but still a great experience none the less.

I would've loved it if during an intense and agressive exchange with Bane, Batman had to say "sorry didn't quite catch that". There were at least 3 times for me whenI had no idea what Bane was saying.

First of all, I'm a sound recording tech in "Hollywood". I saw this movie at an IMAX theater in one of the top multiplexes in Los Angeles. I, too, was annoyed at the dialog being repeatedly overwhelmed by the sound effects and music.

left the cinema at the break - could not understand a word of Bane's and when other characters were turned away from camera, without lip reading found it difficult to understand - I thought that the particular cinema had too much bass - turn the treble up and it would become clearer I reckon

It's obvious Nolan has no real clue how to mix sound. It's his job to know the limitations and acoutics of theatres and not require some perfect situation for his movie to be understood. That pretty much everyone struggled is all we need to know that the flick deserves a razzy award for worst sound.
Does make me wonder if he did it on purpose, pulling a J Lo. Remember the J Lo green near-topless grammy dress from years ago? everyone was so busy staring at the plunging neckline, they didn't notice her large, out-of-proportion caboose. Nolan's sound was so bad, it's all I could think about during the movie. Afterwards, I started thinking of all of the major plot problems and other weaknesses of the movie.
If the sound hadn't been literally painful at times, and had I not been irritated at having to work so hard to try to understand the dialogue, I might have enjoyed the movie even with its weaknesses.

I wasn't able to follow the storyline because of the overwhelming music. The dialog was Inaudible. I was unable to follow the multiple subplots and the pathetic. What I experienced today was pathetic.

Saw it a second time just now. And I think it's because of the Imax choice Nolan made. The voices are not on the same channel as the music. First viewing of TDKR I hated it. Couldn't hear people talking and the music was so freaking loud it changed all perception of time and lenght. In the end your brain is just looking at something annoying. The film was pure noise. One month later, because all the good word I was hearing on the film, I went back and I've been strucked by the clarity of the film. All was very smooth, time was well done, editing seemed great. Voices level were the same but the music level was far lower That's a problem to report on future Nolan releases because it litterally destroys his movies. The first time I didn't think it was a problem, if it were then why the voices (all the audio) was not too loud too ? But now I'm pretty sure that the problem is they divided music level from the rest because of the Imax format being a big eater. And you just have to hope your projectionist is good.

I had a real problem with the sound quality in both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Tom Hardy is an excellent actor but when he's up against an unrelenting background bass thrum, you really needed to be able to see his lips to have any chance to make out what he's saying. I found a problem with all the characters with low voices. I could hear Bane better than Batman, partly I suspect because his character enunciated better. But then the American acting/directing style of the moment seems to favour this urgent rushing of the dialogue in a bid for 'gritty realism'. It may seem cool, but completely fails its basic remit - to be heard and understood. Style again, sadly, over substance.

Wow. So nice to see many people complaining of the same issue. Well let's see I think we can all agree on Bane and then there's the scene where already soft spoken Gorden is speaking into his hospital O2 mask. That just annoyed me as if things aren't bad enough with bane the producers said lets get a few more guys to talk into masks.
At least this guarantees sales of DVDs and more tickets for repeat screenings

saw Dark Knight rises for the first time in a theater tonight - the audio mix was terrible. I asked the management 3 times to turn up the volume - the 3rd time the manager told me its a problem with the recording and that the directors words were "people need to be intelligent enough to follow the script through the imagery"..It was really bad and the movie could have been much better for me if the volume of the speaking were louder

I had the same issue during the dar knight rises with Bane dialogue. I also have problems with DVD/bluray finding the level of dialogue is not at the same level as the fx volume. I do have a pair of gaming headphones (turtle beach) for my ps3 and find that some of the presets do render the dialogue better. But even with the headphones I still find myself reviewing some parts of films. Maybe it's my age (41).....

I think it is due to Lucious Fox's sonar interception.

Watched it on blu ray and had to keep fiddling with the volume because the action scenes were tremendously louder than the others. The sound mixing was so bad I thought my center channel speaker wasn't working, and I too could barely understand the words coming from Banes mouth.

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