I didn’t know what to think when I left the IMAX showing of Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar.” I don’t think anyone did. That being said, the general consensus from the audience and myself was that though it may not be his best movie, it is his ultimate ode to filmmaking.
It will mostly have the impact that “2001: A Space Odyssey” did. No one will really get it or even truly love it at first (Roger Ebert mentioned how people walked out of “2001” when it first came out) but soon it will become a true science-fiction classic and may even be one of the best of the genre.
“Interstellar” is set in a future where the citizens of Earth live in a perpetual Dust Bowl where food is horrifically scarce and farming is forced to be the primary job. There is no use for technological advancement and survival is the only goal.
This version of the future even subscribes to the idea that America—or anyone else¬¬— never landed on the moon. NASA has become an underground organization and the notion of space exploration is merely a fairy tale.
That is until NASA recruits Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA pilot, to travel through a wormhole near Saturn that leads to another galaxy to try and find a new sustainable planet for humans. After reluctantly saying goodbye to his family he embarks on an intergalactic adventure of the likes we’ve never seen.
Now, I know that seems farfetched and some of you are going “You don’t know me! You don’t know what I seen!” Though that is technically true, I personally thought I’d seen everything after last year’s “Gravity.”
I will admit I liked that movie better, but the visuals in this movie are undoubtedly staggering. The appearance of the wormhole or the black hole gargantuan will literally lock your jaw in a downward motion.
Not only do they look beautiful on an artistic level, but also the way they are shot proves Nolan has evolved as a filmmaker. That seems impossible given he is already a perfect specimen of the craft. He and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema knew it was best to put the focus of shots into corners and looking outside of the interior of the spaceship.
This requires the eye to travel and see things from an explorer’s perspective. If the story doesn’t do it, the visuals endorse and require the audience to watch and believe in the majesty of space. When you walk out of the building it will be impossible to not look up into the stars and dream of what it all really looks like. You may also have an existential crisis.
“Interstellar” rings more like Spielberg than Kubrick. It puts real people against astronomical odds but with a message that hinges on humanity. It’s a family movie with smarts. People will try to come up with theories like with “Inception” and will be angry that they can’t. That is what will turn them off of it. “Interstellar” has a very simple, structured, emotional story at its core with tremendous scientific detail and awe-inspiring visuals to flesh it out.
Some may say it lacks heart, but anyone who does is not watching. I almost cried several times, the most notable being when Cooper and his team member Brand (Anne Hathaway), go through a rift in space time and accidently waste 23 years of Earth time and only three hours of their own. Cooper breaks down as he watches years of backlogged footage and watches his kids grow up, having missed it all. Oh god, I’ve got myself going again.
As long as you stay focused and don’t try to logically understand the science of it all (you can’t and won’t), you will realize Nolan’s ultimate point is that the real key to survival is imagination and innovation and that is fueled by love. Just like Cooper, you may get lost along the way but in the end, you’ll figure it out and find your way home.