I don’t dislike a single film made by Christopher Nolan and I doubt that will change anytime soon. To me, he’s a remarkable filmmaker that just sees things a bit differently than anyone else. His ability to tell any story, any which way, is unparalleled and he’s always raising the bar that he set. He plays around with many human themes and intertwines them with fantastical stories and worlds that take your breath away. Some could call me a Nolan fanboy, but I do recognize the faults in his films. Perhaps I just notice fewer of them than others do. Either way, I always remain objective when going into one of his films and that didn’t change with this latest outing.
As Earth’s population grew between the 20th and 21st century, resources on our planet began growing scarce. We had an overabundance of technology, but we were lacking farmers and couldn’t feed everyone. Then the dust started picking up and crops started dying, so corn farmers like Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) had to really pick up other’s slack. Cooper was once a pilot for NASA and he imparted his love of engineering and his fascination of exploration upon his daughter, Murphy (Mackenzie Foy). When the two discover a strange gravitational anomaly, they’re led to a NASA’s secret location, headed-up by Cooper’s old professor Brand (Michael Caine).
After a quick briefing by NASA of the world’s state and a Wormhole that’s emerged near Saturn, Cooper is asked to pilot their shuttle through the Wormhole with a crew including Doyle (Wes Bently), Romilly (David Gyasi), the Robot TARS (Bill Irwin), and Brand’s daughter, Amelia (Anne Hathaway). This would mean leaving his family and his home, but it would also mean potentially saving the Earth and the people on it. Along the journey, however, time will shift differently for them than it will on Earth, meaning every second counts. They’re fairly certain of what they’re going to find on the other side, but then again it’s all just theory.
Interstellar explores the nature of humanity through emotional and scientific lenses, which stimulate and guide you through the unforgettable journey that is this film. Never have I found myself so scientifically enlightened, while also emotionally vulnerable during a film. The theoretical/conceptual physics affinity that I have was more than justified after witnessing Interstellar’s complex explanations of space-time and other such events. More than anything, Interstellar relays strong messages about our loss of that want and need to explore the greater reaches of space and give our best effort to save those who we love here on Earth. I cried, I laughed, I felt, I learned, I loved.
Christopher Nolan has certainly outdone himself on an intellectual level and a technical scale, as Interstellar is an accumulation of meticulous work. Working with his brother, Jonathan, Nolan explores many theoretical aspects of space, time, and the unknown and the amount of accuracy and effort he put into researching and theorizing really shows. Nolan doesn’t treat his audience as dumb, but he takes care to explain how everything works and his dramatic dialogue and unfolding of events really emphasizes just how strange and drastic things are outside of Earth. To make matters even more relatable, Nolan stresses what humanity really means and how it affects us during certain events in our lives. The focus on the preservation of our species in a few different ways make the stakes high as is, but the inclusion of familial ties adds a layer of depth to every character and allows the audience to view things from the same perspective. Nolan also brings the dark-side of humanity to the table, as he explores how people act in dire situations.
While there are many themes prevalent in Interstellar, none are more effective and relevant than the spirit of exploration into the unknown. We were pioneers, looking for new possibilities out in space. Something happened along the way and now we’ve shifted our focus away from traveling into the unknown. People settle for “good” because it’s easy and that want to go further seems to be dwindling. Nolan expertly exemplifies how thrilling and frightening Space travel can be, as what you may find is equally exciting and dangerous. There are never moments of comfort and rest in Interstellar because every action has consequences and time is working against everyone. The searching for suitable worlds to inhabit and how we’d go about inhabiting them is endlessly fascinating and it helps that IMAX screens allow us to take in all the beauty that Nolan created. While traveling light-years away from Earth, Hans Zimmer‘s emotionally fueled score accompanies us and practically manipulates the audiences emotions (not that that’s a bad thing).
On a visual level, Interstellar is nothing short of a masterpiece. Shot in 7omm and 35mm film, Nolan had a specific vision for how his film should look. His VFX crew really outdid themselves with the work done of the Wormhole and Black hole, as well as the new planets which they’re trying to reach. The spacecrafts and how they behave in space all adhere to the laws of physics and the lack of sound and realistic behaviors make things even more exhilarating. Even with grand-scale effects, the focus on this film is always on the story at hand and it’s incredible how alluring and effective that story was. To quote Hathaway’s character “Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.” Love for our family, our species, and ourselves takes the forefront in this film and I was completely surprised at how moving that aspect was. Science Fiction often deals with aliens and Earth being in danger of destruction, but the best Science Fiction deals with humans and their fight for survival.
Matthew McConaughey won an Oscar for his emotional and physical turn in Dallas Buyers Club, but he gives his most emotional and moving performance in Interstellar. One scene in particular solidifies this performance as his best and his character’s motivations will really touch every member of the audience. He practically carries this film on his back, but he’s joined by very moving and effective performances from Hathaway and Chastain. Both women bring unbelievable emotion and determination to this film and their will to fight on and find solutions is extraordinary. Despite not being involved as long, Damon, Affleck, Caine, Bently, Grace, Lightgow, and Gyasi all perform their roles perfectly and add something truly powerful to this film. A lot of credit must also be given to young Mackenzie Foy for practically making me tear up with her moving performance. Bill Irwin also has a good deal of fun and adds some light humor as TARS. There’s a ton of talent in this film and the performances are all strong, only helping make the film and its story more effective.
Interstellar spoke to me on so many different levels, but it appears as if I’m in the minority of critics on this one. It’s certainly not some big blockbuster that most think it’s going to be, as it relies on science and humanity to tell such a compelling, somewhat unique story. Sure, there are times where this film dragged on just a bit too long and the IMAX sound got a bit overbearing, but those three hours felt like nothing. I was never bored while watching this incredible spectacle and I applaud Nolan for taking huge risks with storytelling and the unfolding of his film. The third act is the weakest of the three, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. This is a film that may take a couple viewings to fully understand and appreciate, but I believe that will spawn lots of great conversation. For what it’s worth, go in with an open mind and be prepared to see an entirely different film from what you first expected.