Christopher Nolan must be a fan of the Beastie Boys. Having just watched his sci-fi (and yes, for all you critics of what is feasible and what isn’t with the film, it IS a fictional movie), it is hard to assemble everything that took place into a coherent, logical post. That is, until the song “Intergalactic” came to mind. The Beastie Boys sum up the premise of the movie in their hit quite simply, “Intergalactic planetary, planetary intergalactic. Another dimension, another dimension, another dimension…” Like the song, it is both very ambiguous, likely metaphorical and yet literal. Yes, this film really is that complex.
Going into the film, we (my wife and I) assumed the film was going to take us into space, but that ultimately it was going to reflect what we, as humans, are currently doing to our precious earth and the impacts it would have on us in the long run – forcing us to leave because it is no longer livable. And while the story does start off eluding to mankind’s scorching of the earth, it doesn’t venture down the path of how we are destroying it or how it can be saved. Maybe that was Nolan’s initial plan, until realizing that it probably is a moot point, as we are probably already past the point of no return on saving this planet. The story does, however, focus on humanity and connection and does so very effectively.
It is easy to walk out of the theater thinking that the film is in the near future, and that technology is just a decade or two away from sending us through worm holes, safely into black holes, and all around the galaxy like we’re on a cross country road trip. It creates this sense, not because of its logic or the science, but because of the characters and the acting. Through all the space exploration, it succeeds where other films of similar genre often fail, because of its ability to humanize the spaces that are inhabited by the characters, whether in a spacecraft, distant world, another dimension or on a desolate farm.
For fans of Nolan, especially those that love his twisting and turning films like Memento and Inception, Interstellar is likely to please. It seems to grab elements of Nolan’s previous work, even those of the Dark Knight series, by weaving a web of confusion, surrealism, reality and a gray, blurry area of good, evil, right and wrong. Each person is flawed in real, selfish ways even if they are ultimately good. Those that play the role of evil (no spoiler here, though there is one that I could spill), are evil with logical, and possible righteous intentions. And like any great film of Nolan’s, you will leave the movie with a lot to assess and wonder – not just of the movie, but of yourself, and his intention with the film.
What I appreciate about Nolan, Matthew McConaughey and even Anne Hathaway (who I am not typically a fan of in recent years) in Interstellar, is that while the film has a very serious and dramatic tone to it, the characters aren’t exaggerated even when the circumstances are. Each of the characters individually feels real and their connections equally so even if it is while they are ejecting from a spacecraft in a galaxy far, far away into a black hole. Their interactions and bonds are similar to that of soldiers on the warfront, a family fighting through a tragedy, or people working together forced to constantly make compromises without the promise of a right answer.
Needless to say, Interstellar is a great film. Those that argue against that are likely looking beyond the film for things to criticize, such as the science behind the fictional travels, or went into the film expecting it to have a more socially driven message. However, I would argue that not only does the film consistently provide a tense, exciting story, that ultimately its message is greater than any singular issue, that we are all connected and must make sacrifices now and in the future to leave the world (hopefully better) for future generations.
The Beastie Boys should be proud for inspiring such a film.