Skip to content

Interstellar

November 11, 2014

Interstellar (2014)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain

Matthew_McConaughey_jako_6301752.jpg (300×168)

Synopsis: In the near future, Earth is suffering from a rapidly dwindling supply of crops and food. US farmer, Coop (Matthew McConaughey), follows strange signs from the bedroom of his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain) to a secret NASA base where a mission is being planned to send a team out through a worm hole near Saturn to search for new inhabitable worlds. As an ace ex-space pilot, Coop is enlisted on the team, and despite the reservations of his family – especially Murph – Coop takes a leap forward into Space and Time to do his bit for the planet….

Review: After completely deconstructing the rules of genre cinema in Memento and Insomnia, after the epochal revising of the Batman legend for the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, and after exploiting the metaphysical potential of magic and dreams respectively in The Prestige and Inception, a journey into the recesses of Space and Time seems the obvious remaining canvas for Christopher Nolan’s thematic interests and overall ‘signature’ to play out on. For as much as anything else, Interstellar is a device for Nolan to exploit to the maximum, the emotional resonance of temporality, as well as to provide another of his complex parables of responsibility. As with Inception, there’s an inherent dryness and excess of scientific exposition in Interstellar‘s narrative conceit, though at least Nolan for the most part omits the redundant action baggage he draped Inception in.

Interstellar‘s success and poignancy pretty much stands or falls on the key sequence where Coop and his colleague Amelia return to their main shuttle after a mission to the first water-laden planet of Miller. Due to that planet’s gravitational proximity to a black hole, time spent there (which should only have amounted to a few brief moments, but ended up lasting a handful of minutes due to a series of mishaps) goes substantially slower than anywhere else in the galaxy and certainly on planet Earth. So, when Coop and Amelia return to the shuttle orbiting the planet, they realise a whole 23 years have passed, during which time their colleague Romilly has been left all alone, and their relatives have gone through over two decades of life back on Earth (in Coop’s case, his teenage kids are now the same age as him). The magnitude of this revelation presents Nolan with a meta-temporal dilemma: he has to make the abstract tangible by, in a sense, commenting on the passing of time, while working in a medium that necessarily constricts and paraphrases time and action. Thus, the audience are required to take a leap of faith (a motif from Inception) by being able to intuit the moral of the film’s theoretical musings (made tangible through the stunned ‘welcome back’ from Romilly, before Coop watches 23 years worth of video messages from his family – echoing the haunting, grainy images of Gibarian’s messages in the similarly themed Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky).

With such a difficult remit, Nolan naturally has to fall back on lots of exposition to communicate the resonance of Interstellar‘s science and themes. He is aided though by his unwillingness to neglect the sensual: he edits sequences beautifully to comment upon the links in time, and Hans Zimmer provides one of the most moving and tonally appropriate scores I’ve heard in a long time.

The film’s conclusion to all its cerebral politicking feels strangely appropriate where in essence (huge spoiler alert) by transcending Space and Time, ‘life force’ becomes a four, and indeed five, dimensional entity – reaching a poignant apex where the adult Murph is able to understand that the childhood gravitational happenings in her room were visitations from her father who had managed to reach back in time. These scenes are the scientific and emotional apex of the film, and apotheosis of the Nolan ‘brand’  – a genuinely admirable filmmaker who attempts to merge the philosophical and emotional in entertaining genre packages. (November 2014)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: