Cast – Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, David Gyasi, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon and Ellen Burnstyn
Alluring element – Christopher Nolan, All-Star Cast, SPACE! Check it out if you liked – Contact, Inception
Plot – 10 Acting – 10 Representation of Genre – 9 Cinematography – 10 Effects/Environment – 10 Captivity – 10 Logical consistency – 9 Originality/Creativity – 9 Soundtrack/Music – 9 Overall awesomeness – 10
Walking out of the IMAX theater and into the harsh light of day after seeing the experience that was Interstellar was blinding. I was no longer in space, in the wormhole. I had not aged quickly, yet I was different for seeing this movie… this masterpiece.
I’ll admit: I cry pretty easily – even during commercials. But Interstellar had me bawling. The combination of the immense visual and metaphorical beauty left me in tears. I walked into the theater thinking, “This will be a pretty cool space movie.” I did not have a clue that it was in fact a borderline Science Fiction epic all wrapped in the one theme that eludes us even more than space travel does: Love. The best part of the whole thing is that it was not about romantic love, but rather the love between a parent and their child. There is a scene towards the end of the film where things start coming together, as they always do in Christopher Nolan films, and I lost it. If you cry easily like me, you may want to bring a pack of tissues.
Interstellar is set in the future. It is unclear how far ahead in time we are, but I think the ambiguous time period adds to the idea of time relativity the movie focuses on. At first, we follow Cooper (McConaughey), his two children, Tom and Murphy, and their grandfather Donald. The world’s population has dwindled, there is so little food left on the planet that the most respected job is to be a farmer, and there are dust storms so large that people are forced to leave their town. This world is a believable take on the world to come. There is a line in film that really resonates with the sentiment that we were headed for doom because there are 6 billion people and we want it all. The truth of this harsh reality is that humans will die unless another planet is found.
Enter the “science porn” as I call it. Cooper, a former space pilot, through a series of well-timed events, is implored by the now underground NASA to pilot a spaceship, along with Amelia Brand, to go through the wormhole of Saturn and find a habitable planet. There is no telling if Cooper and his crew will return to Earth, see their families ever again, or how old they will be if they do. The discoveries made about time, gravity, and outer space is astounding, thrilling, and terrifying all at the same time. Everytime the crew must make a new decision or do something tricky with the ship, the scenes are wrought with the perfect amount of anticipation; something difficult to convey to the masses considering how many of us actually understand what was going on (for the record, I don’t have the faintest idea about space travel). The amount of research that was put into this film was astounding. It was evident through the dialogue and the presumably accurate imagery of space, the wormhole, and the other planets.
In my research, I found that Jonathan Nolan (brother to Christopher and co-writer of the film) took classes on relativity at California Institute of Technology, that his research took 8 terabytes of data, and that the whole movie was inspired by the work of Kip Thorne, a close colleague of Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. Kip Thorne was the scientific advisor for Interstellar. When the special effects team was making the images of the wormhole based on calculations by Thorne, he learned so much from the images, he was able to draw new conclusions and write a whole new scientific research paper on the phenomena. If that isn’t some science porn, I don’t know what is.
The most impressive part about all the science is how it translated to film. Space is something that most of us Earthlings dream about (my poll audience so far is me, but I think I’m a pretty good representative of Earthlings). Interstellar showed the vast beauty of the blackness of infinity. My only gripe about the movie is that the space exploration could have lasted longer. The impressive look of the movie can be attributed to the fact that it was filmed in 35mm and IMAX photography; something incredibly rare in this age of digital photography. The film was that much better because it look classic instantly. With that being said: go see Interstellar in IMAX.
Along the lines of space travel, one of Nolan’s hopes for this movie was that it would ignite a desire for space travel again – the idea that we are innately pioneers. That desire was certainly a strong point of the film, both through message and imagery. What an impressive feat to create a feeling like that in only 2.5 hours.
What impressed me most about the film’s story were the literary elements, but I suppose that is because of my personal background. Between the books in Murphy’s room, the symbolism of those books throughout the movie, the repetition of the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”, and the evocativeness of Slaughterhouse Five because of the idea of free will vs. fate was a literary buff’s dream.
I really could go on and on about the literary aspect, but I will only focus on the importance of the poem. Thomas wrote the poem for his dying father, an amazing juxtaposition to the idea that Interstellar projects about the Survival Instinct. Matt Damon’s character Dr. Mann (by the way, fuck that guy) tells Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper that we see our children when we are dying because that is our proof that we will continue to live. The close relationship that Cooper has with his daughter Murphy transcends not only the Survival Instinct, but the fear children have about watching their parents die – a true testament to the brilliance in writing by having the poem repeated throughout. It didn’t hurt that Michael Caine was the one to recite it. Everything is better British.
If you’ve kept up with me thus far, you may be wondering, “Ok the message was cool and so was the space stuff, but did McConaughey live up to his Lincoln car ads?” Joking aside, the acting was excellent. Not only was McConaughey so utterly believable as an explorer, scientist and father, Hathaway shined as his teammate. In addition, I was astounded by David Gyasi’s performance as fellow astronaut Romilly, who must age by 23 years ahead of his crew at one point in the movie. It should be noted that Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Mackenzie Foy were equally as astounding as the headliners. Furthermore, the robot TARS, voiced by Bill Irwin was the perfect counterpart to rest of the cast. Also, I really hope there are actually TARS in the future.
One major triumph of Interstellar was keeping the story fresh and interesting throughout its long run time. There was always a clear direction. When the mission changed, it was easy to keep up, and as exciting as the last mission. Boredom never occurred, which could have been an easy turn to take. There was a moment when I thought we were going to get a prettier version of Armageddon, but then went in a totally different direction, which was much appreciated. Part of what created such an atmosphere of suspense was the score and use of sound. The music was gripping, as were the perfectly executed sounds within the spaceship, outside the spaceship, and the use of silence. At one point, there is a terribly loud noise in a scene that is very unexpected followed by immediate deafening silence. There was a gasp throughout the theater and then an instant hush, causing the feeling that we were all in this together.
All being in this together, whatever this is, is the essence of Interstellar. In ways we are alone in this galaxy, but we must forge connections in our galaxy, whether between the stars or between each other. We are humans. We will find a way to survive. We must work together in order to continue on. Not just surviving, but living. Feeling. And loving. No matter what Interstellar proved that no matter how advanced we are, that love will transcend time and space. How profound.
All pictures belong to Paramount Pictures and Syncopy.