Political Science and Physics major
What if I told you that for simply nine dollars, you could immerse yourself into a state of bewilderment, jubilation, excitement, fear, uncertainty, perplexity, and discovery? The answer, my friends, is a ticket to Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Of course, Interstellar is not a perfect movie (what is a perfect movie anyway?), but it comes pretty close. And when you combine the genius of renowned astrophysicist Dr. Kip Thorn to help re-imagine truly compelling science, the talent of this film’s incredible cast, as well as the tear-inducing beauty of Hans Zimmer’s arrangements, the standards of movie making are bound to be forever changed.
Mr. Nolan’s greatest accomplishment with Interstellar, I feel, is that he combines a complex array of scientific and physical phenomena with a powerful and very relatable father/daughter relationship. At the very core of this movie is one of the strongest emotional attachments a human being can experience, and it is what keeps you, the viewer, glued to your seat, for you genuinely care about Cooper (Mathew McConaughey) and whether he will make it back to his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy/Jessica Chastain). The acting between McConaughey and Foy as the film begins is incredible; Cooper and Murph’s bond is remarkably strong, and it is this bond that keeps Cooper in check through the film’s entirety.
In spite of the immensity of space and the apparent hopelessness of the mission, Cooper never loses sight of the goal: saving the human race for his daughter. Matt McConaughey’s execution of the role is impeccable. From this foundation of a very real and human story, Nolan is then able to pile on a dense epic of science fiction (with a lot of dead-on, accurate science) without much falling through the cracks.
From a writing perspective, Mr. Nolan’s second greatest accomplishment is his commentary on the human condition. Underneath all of the science fiction (which I will nerd-out on shortly) and drama is a clear-cut mirror image of humanity’s flaws. The setting of this film is bleak and grim – human beings failed miserably to care for the Earth and the environment. Consequently, this not-too-distant future consists of an oppressively grave food shortage and periodic dust storms that engulf entire towns. If the setting of Interstellar is not a firm commentary on the dire necessity for us to clean up our act on climate change, pollution, and frivolous consumption, then I don’t know what is.
Furthermore, Matt Damon’s character Dr. Mann (a coincidence – I think not) reveals the subtle evils that lurk within us all. In the film, Dr. Mann is referred to as the “best of us” and a truly respectable human being. Interestingly enough, after living in complete isolation on a desolate planet for so long, he became quite irrational and erratic, as anyone probably would. In the wise words of Sirius Black, “[Harry], the world is not split into two sides, good and evil. We all have light and dark inside us. It just matters what we choose to act upon.”
Even if Interstellar was not your favorite movie, you cannot argue that it was not at least among the most ambitious movies of the past few years. Black holes, relativistic time, space travel, worm holes, all four of our dimensions and more, “aliens” (which are very probably the species that human beings evolve into, as suggested in the film), and even spinning wildly in circles! (Cooper spinning the ship to match the rotational speed of the space station in order to board had me, personally, at the edge of my seat.) But I digress.
I think the most ambitious aspect of Interstellar’s science was integrating the fourth dimension, time, and the fifth dimension, something we do not quite understand yet, into the fabric of the movie. The concept of time itself, for example, being a sort of three-dimensional space that one could climb into or explore is truly perplexing. The past could be a valley you observe as if it were the present again, and the future could be a cliff you simply hike; in other words, time is not linear as we perceive it on Earth, but all-encompassing, never-ending. *Mind blown.*.
Mr. Nolan even introduced a deep philosophical perspective to the film in regards to love. Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway) has a scene in which she suggests that the “alien” characters are trying to communicate to the group through the form of love. Yes, there is a biological, reproductive justification for love, but there is a deeper side to love that the human race is still baffled by to this day. We cannot completely explain why we love or where our love comes from – we simply love.
In many ways, love seems to be a part of something greater than us. With Interstellar, Mr. Nolan presents the idea that love is a powerful, mysterious force in the universe that transcends dimensions and time. Like gravity, love is an attractive force that brings people together no matter when, where, or why. The love between Cooper and Murph ends up being the reason why the “alien” characters choose Murph to save the world and Cooper to help Murph achieve this from an alternate dimension. Love is what saves the human race. Many critics write this aspect of the film off; I find it quite poetic.
And of course, the production of this movie is astonishing. Never at all did Mr. Nolan use green screen in this film – everything you see was either a built set (including the acres of corn, which the production team grew themselves), a stupendously marvelous display of seamless CGI effects, or it was filmed in Iceland. Also, (this goes without saying) Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack is one of the greatest triumphs of the decade.
As I have described, Christopher Nolan’s is pretty much the closest thing to a perfect movie I have seen in a while. While I am not a huge fan of rating things, to maintain the integrity of a typical movie review, I give Interstellar a 9.5/10 simply because I feel a 10 is somewhat impossible to reach, with the exception of the Anchorman movies – those are 10’s. (M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender is a 0/10).