What’s the meaning of life? What’s the meaning of love? Do I “love” my family... enough to embark on intergalactic space travel in an attempt to save their lives and those of the entire human race? What would I find if I did embark on such a quest into the great beyond? Who would I find in the great beyond? These are universal queries and just a few of the pressing questions that will overwhelm you after seeing Christopher Nolan’s (“Inception”) latest cinematic mind-puzzle “Interstellar”.
“Interstellar” was co-written by Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan and was produced by Nolan’s wife Emma Thomas. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain, alongside many other recognizable hollywood regulars including Matt Damon and John Lithgow. It’s set in a Great-Depression-like-post-60’s-22nd-century, in which most of the human race has perished due to war, famine, and environmental phenomena. When the film starts, scientists are battling nature to save corn- the last surviving crop and food source- from the agricultural superbug known as blight. In the future, blight has devoured all other edible vegetation on the planet and once it kills the corn everyone will suffocate, unless someone finds humanity a new home. McConaughey’s character, Cooper is our someone; a nasa-pilot-turned-farmer who longs for worlds beyond our own and dreams of the day that he’ll save everyone on Earth and give his kids a future. To do so, Cooper joins forces with a certain covert space agency to traverse the unknown universe executing what will be known as plans A and B in hopes of finding a new Plymouth Rock.
Now, I’ve probably already said too much, because the Nolan brothers are notorious for their secrecy when it comes to promoting their films. They like to preserve the magic and mystery of their movies by leaving large chunks of information out of their plot descriptions and trailers. With this, “Interstellar” is shrouded in secrecy and dare I say lies, because the audience is never sure what the movie is about until they’ve seen it. The Nolan brothers are skilled at making the audience question reality. They encourage us to believe that we don’t know the meaning of life or what love is, because we don’t even know what’s going to happen next in the movie. Yet, with every scene they educate us ever so subtly that we begin to wonder: “Am I watching a sci-fi flick or a documentary?” The film (which can properly be called a film since it was shot in 70mm) is classic Christopher Nolan: mind-stretching, plausible, but above all else, original. During a time when it seems as if we can’t catch a break from adapted screenplays and remakes, “Interstellar” is the light at the end of the tunnel that moviephiles have patiently waited for.
Moreover, two of the biggest themes of the movie- aside from life and love- are gravity and time; two metaphysical concepts that ground us to Earth. In the film, gravity traps humanity on a dying planet, or you could say it forces them to stay. Time is the ultimate protagonist, it’s the one thing that everyone fears. Hathaway’s character Dr. Brand once said “[Time] can stretch, bend, and fold but it can never move backwards” so no matter what, we always seem to be running out of it. These are hard concepts to grasp, simply because we don’t want to grasp them. As humans we realize we are mortal creatures so we risk our mortality which often extends our time on gravity-stricken Earth and convinces us that we’re immortal. Facts of life: gravity and time inhibit our control and remind us of our finiteness, “Interstellar” just breaks this news to us lightly. That’s not to say that “Interstellar” is too heavy for a first date. It just highlights the dilemma of the human condition in a very scientifically-artsy way.
Continuing,The score was masterfully composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer whose sound alone compels one to embark on an intergalactic journey of their own. And of course it wouldn’t be classic Nolan without his signature camera roll; he wants us to believe that clarity comes when we tilt our heads to the side, but does it? The “best” parts of the film are also the “worst” parts and vice versa. Like a circle that has no beginning or end, every detail of the film lends to the greater storyline. If too much is divulged beforehand the experience of watching “Interstellar” is tainted, and it’s an experience everyone should have. I definitely see Christopher Nolan’s first Oscar nomination (and win) on the horizon, because of this film. “Interstellar” has raised the bar to a level other filmmakers are not ready to compete at. Nolan is steadily placing himself in a league of his own.
So, the meaning of life and love? I’m not too sure the Nolan brothers even know. However, their latest masterpiece suggests that the answers to these questions are irrelevant so long as one is alive and knows that love exists and that gravity and time have no hold on these things.