Generally I’m not one for space movies, but this one, this one, oh my word. I don’t think I’ve been that affected/touched/provoked to thought by a movie in a long while. Not since The Tree of Life at least.
For me to enjoy science fiction, it can’t be so fantastic that it no longer feels attached to reality. It must be somewhat grounded, enough so that it feels plausible. Otherwise I can’t become emotionally involved or see the film as something worthy of applicable thought. It becomes entertainment.
But this one had that element of truth; it wasn’t quite the world I know (the dust, the corn, the just slightly more advanced science), and yet it was. The closeness of the family. The sense of wrongness about the world. The shortsightedness of the general public exemplified in Cooper’s quote: “We used to look up in the sky and wonder… at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”
Our society, is especially like this. We are so focused on “progress” that we often forget what makes us human. So focused on working social justice that we forget what caused the problems in the first place.
But I digress.
Like the nerdy word loving person I am, I looked up the definition of the movie’s title and found that it meant “the space between stars.” And my goodness does that describe Christopher Nolan’s film well.
Interstellar is very much about the space between, the space that connects and intertwines gravity, time, and people.
Of course you have to search through all the science to find the underlying message. But all the intricate complexities of this film (i.e. the black hole, Einstein’s theory of relativity, the dimensions of time and space, gravity) underscore the main message of the movie and serve to highlight the interconnectedness of people.
I saw one review that described Interstellar as scientific romanticism and I disagree strongly. (And quite frankly I was rather offended because I was gliding on a “wow-that-was-like-the-most-amazing-thing-ever” high. Nobody likes their bubble of excitement popped.) To look at this sort of a movie and brush off its complex solution as “scientific romanticism” is to completely forgo its message.
(Okay, looking back, there are some smacks of “scientific romanticism.” Especially in the conclusion. The whole, humans will be better than ever one day. But that’s overshadowed by the rest of the film.)
Interstellar wants its viewers to understand that there is more to humanity than skin and bones, more than molecules and protons and neutrons.
In Interstellar Nolan explores the power that love, survival, and the desperate need for salvation exert on the human heart.
Quite honestly, as strange as it sounds, I saw the Gospel vividly in this film. So very vividly.
Like Murph realizes in the movie, we are doomed. We have no idea how dire our doom is. Any promise of salvation by worldly means is completely false.
And yet, like Dr. Mann so frighteningly reminds us, humans rummage and fumble and scrape their way toward survival. “Do not go gentle into that good night, rage rage against the dying of the light,” Professor Brant continually tells his astronauts. (Question, is this repetition supposed to be a warning or an encouragement?) We don’t want to die. We know that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Physical morality betrays the immortality of our souls.
So, as Interstellar implies, why are we so adamant about saving the human race? Why can’t we let ourselves go? We can’t we let other people go? Why do we love even when its inconvenient or even irrelevant? As the poem says, why do we rage against the dying of the light?
(Do not go gentle into that good night.
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.)
The reaching through time at the film’s conclusion (bare with me I’m trying to be vague so that I don’t spoil it but specific to avoid confusion) may seem like “scientific romanticism” but I think there’s a larger point here. A much larger point. Like Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, science is the vehicle for a greater point about the human heart. To focus so hard on the science is to ignore the more pressing message.
The love that ties us through other people, like gravity, is not bound by time or dimensions or anything else.
It was this reaching through time that the author of the other article brushed off as ridiculous, that spoke most to me of the Gospel. Because that’s exactly what Jesus did. He is the Word at the beginning and isn’t bound by time. He created it. He’s outside of it. He sees all of human history (much like Cooper saw every moment of you-know-if-you-saw-the-movie laid out) and yet He stepped into it.
He who was not bound by time stepped into time so that He might save us.
Yes, there are many other minor themes, but this one message was the greatest one the movie offered.
All that said, go watch Interstellar, you won’t be disappointed. (Christopher Nolan never disappoints.)
Also the soundtrack is amazing. Like the best one I’ve heard in quite a while. Like my favorite Hans Zimmer soundtrack.
Also the cinematography. Stellar. (See what I did there?)
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
Go watch the movie.