When you look into the dark, mysterious night sky, what are the thoughts and feelings that come to you? Fear, wonder, relief, solitude, or nostalgia? Christopher Nolan offers his unique answer in his well-received scientific fantasy Interstellar (2014) of which Nolan is the director, screenplay writer and producer. Contrary to many scientific fantasy directors, Nolan tells an emotional and intimate, if not dragging and sentimental, story about the universe. Through the thought-provoking and visually resplendent Interstellar (2014), Nolan proves again that he is one of the finest story-tellers and most imaginative movie-makers of his generation.
According to Nolan, our universe comprises not only scientific laws but also a heart, which makes the movie intellectually approachable and emotionally pleasing to many audience. Physicists have proven that gravitational force can overcome the limit of time and space, but what they are perhaps unaware that humanly love is something still beyond our comprehension and perhaps powerful enough to overcome the same limit. This idea is presented repeatedly and explicitly in the movie. Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter, Murphy (Jessica Chastain), were separated for decades. Due to the distortion of time in space, Murphy aged much faster than her father on the earth and died before him. Even so, Cooper strived to report important physical constants measured in the centre of a black hole to his daughter. After all, Cooper was forever the father of Murphy. Besides, Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway) wished to visit Edmund’s habitual planet although Edmund reports the least promising results, and the spacecraft was running out of fuel. She claimed that among so many men, she only fell in love with Edmund, and that might hint something. The ending of the movie is somehow bombastic, as Dr. Brand, or human love, was ultimately right, and Edmund did find another planet suitable for human life. The same bombastic perspective can also be found when Cooper was wondering about who created the wormhole next to Saturn and helped him gather key constants in the centre of the black hole. The main characters often referred to the benefactors
as ‘they’. The movie is implicitly suggesting that ‘they’ are human beings from the future who would be sophisticated and powerful enough to save the civilisation then.
Human nature was, however, not always selfless. There were instances in the movie when the viewers feel a sense of despair about humans. These instances mainly include the time when Dr. Mann (Matt Damon) was found cheating on his reported results so that someone would come and visit him and he got the chance to return to the earth. When Prof. John Brand (Michael Caine) was at his dying moment, he revealed that there was in fact no equation, and his project was a complete joke to fool the public. In this way, Interstellar offers a smart, insightful discussion of humanity within the context of space travel, scientific advancement and survival of human civilisation. As such, the heart of the universe depicted by Nolan is multi-dimensional and ultimately selfless. It serves as a reassurance of humanity, which is well-recived among audience and critics.
Movies directed by Nolan often feature splendid visual effects and beautiful soundtrack, and Interstellar is no exception from that. The wormhole, the blackhole, and how blackholes trap light from nearby stars are vividly, if not poetically, presented with scientifically accurate details. Hans Zimmer again offers wonderful background music for the space travel and human love. The melody feels sad, forgiving, lonely, fearful, and sometimes hopeful. The simple, quiet, repetitive tone perfectly captures the mood of the movie.
It also needs to be acknowledged that the story sometimes indulges too much into human sentiments and loses focus as a result. The music sometimes sounds too loud and audience cannot hear the lines. The movie tends to be draggy at times, and Cooper’s encounters on the earth could have been cut shorter. The reference to movie themes and discussions of humanity feel overly explicit until they become too artificial. Over-glorifying human nature is another controversial point of the movie. I guess that Nolan somehow underestimates his audience and offers a story full of amazing details but less impressive when the parts are combined. The performance of main casts are less creative and more cliched as compared to the technical aspects of the movie, although McConaughey, as always, offers memorable performance after winning an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club.
Overall, Interstellar celebrates advancements in visual effects, sound mixing and cinematography. Its personal approach to explain the misery of the universe has been well-received among audience through sometimes artificial reassurance of humanity. Its thought-provoking, emotionally intimate story enables the fantasy to be appreciated by the general public.