Christopher Nolan has had an impressive track record since the release of Memento in 2000. With the release of Dunkirk this past weekend, Vox may have discovered one of the reasons his films seem so intense. The secret may lie in the “Shepard Tone”.
Nicknamed the “sonic barber pole”, the Shepard tone is an acoustical illusion that tricks the brain into thinking that a tone is rising or falling continuously in pitch. This tone can potentially increase the intensity of a given scene. Vox’s Christophe Haubursin details the relevance of the Shepard tone in Nolan’s movies (like Interstellar and The Batman Trilogy) as well as other pieces of media like Super Mario 64.
A popular YouTuber, VSauce breaks down this phenomena simply.
Image courtesy of Syncorp and Warner Brothers