Film Review: Interstellar (2014)

interstellarOn the weekend, I saw Interstellar. Although I am a fan of Christopher Nolan (most recent Batman movies, Inception), I had pretty low expectations that I would enjoy it, because:

    I’m not really a fan of space movies; I’m not a fan of Matthew McConaughey; and The trailer did not look very exciting or uplifting.

BUT I was quite impressed and pleasantly surprised by this film. Despite the almost 3 hour long run time of the movie, I actually felt that the pace was okay, given the extreme tension throughout the film (kudos on the music score). This is in comparison to the about 2.5 hour long run time of the latest Transformers movie, which I felt dragged on and on (continuous fight scenes).

Brief summary (spoiler free)

In the near future, Earth is in a food security crisis. Despite all the advances in technology, the ground has become infertile and, every year, less and less crops are able to be grown. Humanity is starving to death. NASA has been largely decommissioned with only a handful of scientists working now to find a habitable planet out in the space and beyond. Cooper (a former NASA pilot) stumbles across this last remaining hope for humanity and volunteers to leave his two children behind to journey into a black hole near Saturn’s ring to find a new home for humanity.

Themes

You can consider using this film as a related text. Here are some of my thoughts on ideas:

Discovery

In Interstellar, the journey to discovery is one of survival and necessity. It is not a curiosity or an adventure in which the characters have been driven to shoot out into space, into the unknown, into a black hole of all places. How does this compare with other texts and their portrayal of an the motivation for discovery?

This is obvious: discovery is not only a physical journey, but a personal one. The characters endure losses, disappointment, desperation and despair – they experience regret of undertaking the journey and also a desire to return home. The loss is not only what they leave behind but also what they lose along the way. How are characters strengthened or weakened by the journey to discovery and what they find not only along the way, but at the end?

The premise of future Earth is interesting one – what is the role of science and discovery in human society? In this world, it has been considered frivolous – written out of the history books, because the immediate problems of Earth are what matter. I suppose this goes back to the core of what discovery is – a possibility, which may end in something amazing, as likely as it may end in nothingness. And nowhere else is this “nothingness” more likely or fear inducing than the emptiness of space.

Humanity

Another aspect that I really enjoyed about Interstellar was its exploration of humanity. Tragically, we see that even the most brilliant minds are brought down by human fallacies in this film – desperation and fear. In the vast landscape that Nolan paints for us, we see how truly powerless and little humanity is in the wider world that we live in – not only on an ‘interstellar’ level, but also in relation to Earth, which has turned dry and un-liveable. As you watch this movie, the scenes on Earth are just as tense and unnerving as the ones in space. Even on Earth, humanity’s home, there is a fearful sense that humanity’s time is over and you cannot help but think that this is perhaps how many dinosaurs or animals felt prior to extinction.

Yet in contrast to all this, Nolan also highlights humanity’s greatest strengths – love, loyalty and the ability to hope and dream. In Cooper, you see humanity’s desperation but also a fire for survival, which is all driven by love and humanity’s connection to one another. This is what Nolan proposes as the constant that can guide us through life and space.

Well, that’s all I have to ramble on about for this film! I hope you enjoy it if you see it.

4 comments for “Film Review: Interstellar (2014)

  1. Tacooooo
    October 11, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Exceptionally good analysis of the themes in interstellar. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. hmmo
    January 21, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Would you recommend ‘inception’ for the discovery AOS related text?

    • admin
      January 21, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      Funnily enough, I just rewatched Inception yesterday. The film is great for its cinematic techniques and is laden with symbolism, but the difficulty is perhaps seeing the ideas of discovery in it. Off the top of my head, you could think of their journey through the layers of dreams as a journey of discovery. Consider how Ariadne’s discovery of the world of dreams changes her perceptions of reality. How does Dom Cobb and Mal cope with this discovery of this alternative world? Can we get lost in our journey of discovery, or attempt to hide from the truth/reality? Think also about how inception/ideas take hold of you – how discovery cannot be undiscovered. TT

      • hmmo
        January 23, 2016 at 11:44 pm

        Never thought of Inception that way!! Thanks for the inspiring words.

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