It’s not easy crafting a mainstream Hollywood masterpiece involving the minute details of quantum physics and wormhole travel continuum while maintaining the awe of a common audience. But Christopher Nolan, the genius behind famous blockbusters such as Memento,The Dark Knight, Inception, has done it again; this time, experimenting with one of his favorite subjects–time–and twisting its definition into a spectacular sci-fi film that more or less accurately portrays a graphic representation of black holes. Interstellar has stirred some attention within the astrophysics community as CalTech physicist and executive producer Kip Thorne made an incredible, accidental discovery whilst producing the CG effects of the black hole scenes.
Co-written with his brother and film consultant, Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan amazes us with his usual mental puzzle of a great film, as in Inception, but also gives his analysis of human nature and the justification for malice in a “formidable” nature that forces certain actions. The timeless themes that define love between a parent and child and the sacrifices we make for the world we will leave for the next generation to encompass.
You don’t have to like Welshian poetry, theoretical physics, discussions of black holes, gravitational singularities or the possibility of multiple dimensions, to enjoy “Interstellar”.
Set in a semi-dystopian, second-Dust Bowl world not too far from the future of our own present, Nolan paints a context that amalgamates two conflicts, innovative technology and “caretaking” agricultural-based economy, to Earth’s pressing crisis: the need to abandon this resource-depleted planet for a new sustainable one.
“We used to look up in the sky and wonder about our place in the stars,” our protagonist Cooper muses. “Now we just look down and wonder about our place in the dirt.”
Earth’s atmosphere becomes richer in nitrogen and poorer in oxygen, until the time when global starvation will give way to inevitable apocalypse. Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, is a former NASA pilot who refuses the deteriorating lifestyle of a helpless farmer to set out on an exclusive expedition to save mankind.
Under the guidance of the NASA physicist Professor Brand (played by a Michael Caine, familiar a face to any Nolan film) and his dedicated team have devised two plans for saving the human race. Both procedures involve abandoning Earth and starting over on a new, life-sustaining planet, but only one includes evacuating and thus saving Earth’s current 6-billion population. Doing the latter, it seems, all depends on Brand’s ability to solve an smashing math problem that would explain how such a vessel could surmount gravity.
A celestial wormhole, within the district of planet Saturn seemingly placed within reach by some higher form of intelligence, contains another galaxy containing potential future homes that might be fit for human habitation. Accompanied by Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway) and two other researchers (Wes Bentley and David Gyasi) and a humorous, side-kick robot called TARS, Cooper aboards the Endurance to travel across galaxies, visiting delicate waterworlds to the freezing arctic wasteland. Planets have varying gravitational forces, so that for every minute spent on a given planet, years or even entire decades may be passing back on Earth, further challenging the strength of a man’s separation from his aging daughter Murphy (Jessica Chastain), while he himself is trapped in youth, racing through time.
And from there, Interstellar is an action-packed, surprisingly educational, box-office hit sensation that will leave you at once perplexed by the wrenching plot twists and in great reverence for the brilliance that is the Nolan brothers’ imagination.
As film critic Scott Founda puts it, “It’s hard to think of a mainstream Hollywood film that has so successfully translated complex mathematical and scientific ideas to a lay audience…or done so in more vivid, immediate human terms.”
Signature Nolan stylistic choices to look out for, of course, are his thematic subliminal hints through the use of color. Be on the lookout for contrasting colors, especially blue and orange, as Nolan sets powerful character developments through the purposeful placement of each color.
The movie’s nearly three-hour running time quickly passes unnoticed, re-emphasizing that, perhaps, time is a matter of relativity after all.