Review of Interstellar by Ashley Chapman
Film: Interstellar (2014)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Script: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain and Michael Cain
Released: November, 2014
Production: Syncopy and Lynda Obst Productions
Details: 12A; Sci-Fi; 169 min
Interstellar directed by Christopher Nolan was quite a movie exploring as it does notions of time, environmental catastrophe, and father-daughter relationships across time dimensions. Betrayal is also a theme, providing the movie’s Ying/ Yang duality: parent and child; love and treachery; and science and spirituality. Then splicing this into a Christian narrative brought up-to-date through popular science.
Day 1: I actually watched Interstellar twice as, first time round, the Computer Exchange DVD, was kinked, developing into a full-blown play challenge as we hit the worm hole sequence, time literally coming to a noisy slow-time juddering freeze-frame stop. I tried to navigate through the wormhole sequence and into the beyond, but had to abort mission…
Day 2: New DVD.
Basically, like of lot of big budget movies, Interstellar, borrows prodigiously from science fiction novels, specifically the 1970s, so that Joe Haldeman’s Forevever War(1974), for instance, gets a line lifted straight out of the book about taking a ‘slingshot’ around a black hole in a spaceship, and more significantly, with the time-lapse theme. Another key Haldeman reflection on space-time travel in which loved ones are separated irreconcilably by light years, eventually only meeting again, once the vicissitudes of time have ravaged one half.
It’s good too, in the sense that it deals with, in a theme park mannerly way, our fascination with escaping the destruction wrought by consumerism on earth’s natural resources by taking us on an exhilarating ride to the event horizon of a black hole. Not that it’s ever even remotely honest about the causes of earth’s demise, attempting instead to redefine uncomfortable terminology. ‘Climate change’, for instance, becomes ‘the blight’ presumably to ensure box office receipts remain high. Even more bizarre is how it attempts to keep reactionary American audiences on-side, by suggesting that environmental catastrophe will lead in the future to a bland liberal revisionism of history, as in this exchange at Cooper’s, our hero, played with verve and charisma by a well-casted Matthew McConaughey, school meeting about his daughter:
Ms Hanley: Murph is a great kid, but she’s been having a little trouble recently. She brought this to show the other kids about the Lunar Landing. (Passes over book)
Cooper: It’s one of my old text books…She loved the pictures
Ms Hanley: It’s an old Ferderal textbook. We’ve replaced them with the corrected versions.
Ms Hanley: …Explaining how the Apollo missions were faked to bankrupt the Soviet Union.
Cooper: (Indignant) You don’t believe we went to the moon?
Ms Hanley: I believe it was a brilliant piece of propaganda. The Soviets bankrupted themselves pouring resources into rockets and other useless machines…
Obviously, the film went through some interesting funding loops, as its premise, that rampant consumption, ‘six billion people who wanted it all’, led to an environmental catastrophe so devastating that evacuation to another planet was mankind’s only hope, was a bit too much for the grey men in suits to green light, unless a little liberal side-lining was thrown into the mix to lighten anti-consumerist politics.
Nonetheless, the theme park ride is thrilling, taking us to peek, although it doesn’t quite deliver, at the singularity at the neutron star’s core, that impenetrable thing which distorts time, before sentimentally, and unapologetically, reverting back to Christian mythology’s, Love Message, which, with the help of gravity in this mutation, transcends dimensions and mathematical challenges, and plot difficulties, to square every possible anomaly, both real and fictional, including, how quantum and astronomical physics don’t actually coalesce: (spoiler coming!) so that, separated by lifetimes, from inside the all-consuming depth of a black hole, Cooper manages to escape the ultimate devouring monster, the Gargantua black hole, to wake up in the conveniently altered reality of a hospital bed, reunited with his loved ones (a strangely alien soft-focus slow motion sequence)…whereby, his daughter has become his mother and where he gets the girl; and, in the same way, is reconciled and redeemed by the daughter he had tear-jerkingly abandoned. It’s a salvation ending with mother as long-suffering Mary, forgiving our lovable bad-boy-had-to-be a single-minded Selfish Giant.
The film tries bravely to deliver some science culture, even if worm holes are improbably placed at our disposal by kindly aliens only, as it later turns out, from inside the third dimensional paradigm of a fifth dimensional paradox — to not actually be aliens at all — but we humans, talking back at ourselves with relatavistic hindsight, through the convolutions of a back-to-the-future warp-time continuum. The age-old sacrifice – a dark Chronos of his own children — gets a timely revisit, but, as the film exhorts us to believe, their consumption, this time, was from love, rather than the more obvious egotism of chasing after our dreams, American or other, following the inclinations of our own Selfish Gene, an as always implacable star performer.
It’s an enjoyable film – with a great music score — even if it’s essentially Christian propaganda on CS Lewis proportions, and lacks the brutal honesty of Alien or Blade Runner, or even the cheery humour of Independence Day, all less lofty and more unashamedly entertaining.
How about a big-budget science fiction film that begins with a space ship disappearing over the event horizon and reappearing out the other end of the paradigm of Capitalism, to emerge without Christian fundamentalism always intervening to save its red-roasted thorny hide…