Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan (2014).
Interstellar is colossal. I’m a fan of Nolan and I can say that this is as of now his finest work and it will go on to become a classic of science-fiction. My two favourite films he directed earlier, Inception and The Prestige, are also excellent films but have some flaws that I tolerate but others won’t, such as being overly complicated, extravagant, disgruntled or juvenile. Nolan has overcome that with Interstellar, a truly mature and consistent film. It’s long and feels even longer, so have a good snack before going in the cinema, but I don’t think it could have been made much shorter. It has a lot of things to tell and tells them just at the right pace.
Twenty minutes into the future, humanity has fallen into an age of scarcity. There is an unknown plague that’s killing crops and population has been drastically reduced. It’s not considered a time to invest in science and research has been severely crippled. Dr. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), engineer-turned-farmer, lives in the countryside trying to accept he won’t do science anymore. Until he gets swept into a project to go through a worm hole to three possible inhabitable worlds to make a new start for humanity.
Matthew McConaughey does a great job as the lead, continuing the current golden age of his carreer. The rest of the cast does well too, as well as the design team, who throws on the table a very plausible portrait of what the world might look like 40 years from now. It’s really well researched, and don’t take that from me, take it from the physicist that came with me to watch it. Nolan does a masterful use of silence in the scenes that take place in space. That means, yes!!, no sound or fire in space in this movie, but also that the claustrophobic feeling of the astronauts inside the shuttle is passed on to the audience. It falls on the hard side of Mohs’ scale of science fiction and the fantasy element is kept to a minimum. What’s more, it takes relativistic physics way more seriously than most science fiction works in any medium, the last time I saw something similar being Siri and Merin’s section in Hyperion.
It drinks heavily from Sagan’s work, mostly Contact and The demon-haunted world. 2001 is clearly a reference in order to make realistic scenes with spaceships, but the list of inspirations is potentially infinite. Angry aside for the ignorant hipsters who keep saying it plagiarises2001: rotatory space stations, cryosleep, wormholes and AIs are so commonplace in science fiction it’s not even funny, not to say scientists speculate with their actual application in the future. Read a fucking book and stop being such fanboys.
So to wrap it up, I’m already considering it an automatic classic of science-fiction. Go watch it, you will enjoy it.
And now for the ***SPOILERS***
I really liked the presentation of the blight, avoiding that rancid speech of ‘oh, Mother Earth is rebelling against us for mistreating her, we will now pay for our sins’. It’s a case of, there’s this organism that ruins our food and our air and we have to fuck off. It’s not cowardice, it’s necessity. I also really liked the scene about the revised textbooks, where the movie most resonates with Sagan’s The demon-haunted world (go read it to find out why space research is not a waste of anyone’s money).
The movie goes through a couple critical points, once when they encounter Dr. Mann, where Nolan could kill everyone and make the audience feel cheated and depressed, or do a triple flip and resolve the plot. And you paid your ticket to see a triple flip. The other critical point is after going through the black hole. Until it’s explained I was getting really pissed at Nolan for ruining the movie, but the explanation was satisfactory. I can see the matrix of bookcases as an interface created by a fifth-dimensional being to allow the former to manipulate time in three dimensions (guess what? This idea’s not new either!). I prefer to rate the “power of love” rant as Coop being a bit dizzy after going through a fucking black hole.