Interstellar (2014)


After I first saw Interstellar, I thought it was OK, but not sure it was one of the BMEM. As we were walking to our car, a couple in front of us were discussing it, trying to figure it out. As we drove home we talked about it, as Jenny searched the internet for some answers, we also tried to figure it out.

As more time went by, I realized how great this movie is. Here are the reasons:

1. Though the movie visually helps us appreciate how vast the universe is, at it’s core is the simple story of a father’s love for his children. Both these ideas are presented in ways that are stunning.

2. Matthew McConaughey. His performance here is incredible. There are a couple of scenes where he is watching messages from his family while he is in space. Because of the speed and distance he’s traveling, time is moving slower for him, so he sees his children age decades while he ages months. The emotions slowly explode from every pore of his body. Which is a good comparison, because Jenny says he looked like he was too sweaty in this movie. This is the kind of thing Jenny pays attention to. Things like plot and dialogue are secondary to Jenny while watching a movie. I love Jenny very much.

Intersteller messages

3. Space realism. As you know, space is a vacuum, so there is no sound in space. While scenes inside the spaceships have sound of course, when a scene shifts to the exterior of the craft, it is presented in silence. It’s very effective, very jarring.

4. The music of Hans Zimmer is wonderful. He uses synthesizers and percussion to beautifully heighten the tension. Several parts of his music are composed at the tempo of one beat per second, to go along with the theme of time passing. It works. Beautifully.

5. The docking scene. At one point in the film the main space ship is spinning uncontrollably. In order to dock with it, a smaller ship has to match the rotation and lock in place while spinning. The robot explains “It’s not possible!”, to which McConaughey replies “No, it’s necessary.” What follows is an amazing sequence where the music, editing, and camera work combine to form a moment of pure cinema.

intersteller docking

6. Unexpected visuals. The director, Christopher Nolan, was highly influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and it shows. Kubrick was brave enough to give us the music of the Blue Danube with a space shuttle docking scene, as well as an astronaut in the middle of a Victorian-Era decorated suite. Nolan gives us an astronaut traveling through time and ending up on the other side of a bookshelf, trying to communicate with his past self. Mind. Blown.

Like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar is no Star Wars, it’s not even Star Trek. If Star Wars was a hamburger, Star Trek would be steak, but Interstellar would be filet mignon. But you can’t hurry through filet mignon. It must be slowly chewed and savored.

So let me help you digest Interstellar.

The best way to understand it, is to know what was not in the movie. Cooper didn’t crash his jet, so he never settled down to have a family, so Murph was never born, so she couldn’t figure out the formula that would save the people of earth. Instead, the mission to the other planets took place, plan B was used, the human race survived via the frozen embryos, and everyone left on earth died.

Am I going too fast? Read that last paragraph again please.

Now, the new human race grows up, and since they now live close to the black hole, they are able to use what they learn from the black hole to discover things about time and space the original human race never could.

So they devise a plan to save their ancestors, the original human race. First they send a wormhole to guide the human race to the other planets. They also send some spacial anomalies, one of which causes Cooper to crash his jet. He settles down and has a family. Murph is born. Coop goes on the expedition, the future human race sends him back in time to give scientific information learned from the black hole to grown-up Murph. Murph uses the information to use gravity to allow the town-size space stations built on earth to leave the dying planet and survive in space.

That should do it. Of course, there is a hole in this theory. I won’t share it with you, because when I realized it, it bummed me out. But remember, this is science fiction. It doesn’t have to make perfect sense. Stop complaining, sit down, and eat your filet mignon.


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