At last! To say that I have been anxiously awaiting this film for some time would be the understatement of the year. Since learning over a year ago that Christopher Nolan was busy working on THE. SCIENCE. FICTION. EPIC, I could barely contain myself as visions of space, galaxies, planets, wormholes, black holes and time travel danced through my head. As a lover of deep, heady science fiction in the vein of Solaris, The Fountain, Cloud Atlas and Nolan’s own Inception, I had high expectations upon learning that Christopher Nolan would be directing a film about interstellar space travel and wormholes. Normally, going into any movie with high expectations is a recipe for disappointment – so I was actually a bit nervous going into it. I’ve never wanted to love a movie so much in my life.
I was not at all let down. All of you film buffs out there – what is the first thing you do upon exiting the theatre after an enjoyable film? You discuss, correct? Favorite scenes! Special effects! Plot twists! Casting! Memorable quotes! However, the walk through the theatre after seeing Interstellar was a solemn walk of contemplation. I was utterly speechless. I felt like I had just bore witness to something special – something that affected me in ways that I’m not sure I could even articulate. One feeling that definitely overwhelmed all else throughout is such a basic, primal emotion – a feeling of profound wonder – wonder at our world, the universe, the unknown, the relationships between loved ones. Sometimes, I feel like the art of wondering (thank you college Philosophy textbook) is somewhat lost in the world today. And I think it’s such an important feeling that is often lost on us once we pass into adulthood. There are moments in this film where the ideas put forth are so big, and so overpowering, that you can’t help but feel like you’re a kid again, seeing the world and everything in it as if for the very first time. Some, if not most, of these ideas and concepts have turned up in any number of science fiction novels, movies and television shows time and time again – but I’m racking my brain to come up with one that matches Interstellar’s sense of sheer wonder at things that exist just beyond the realm of possibility.
Along with awe-inspiring visuals, frequent Nolan collaborator, Hans Zimmer provides a perfect score that compliments the beauty and isolation of interstellar travel. And with an all-star cast who find themselves more often than not at the mercy of natural phenomena, that feeling of isolation permeates the entire film. Isolation from loved ones as well from humanity in general makes for a very interesting social and psychological thriller. Matthew Mcconaughey and Jessica Chastain are in fine form here as father and daughter strained by something of a long distance. Matthew Mconaughey has the chops to make you chuckle and break your heart, sometimes all at once. Anne Hathaway holds her own on screen with Mcconaughey, bringing a sense of duty for the mission at hand. Michael Caine, although not on screen all that much, seems to embody that sense of wonder that drives most of the film.
In terms of plot, the movie holds up wonderfully, and has a very distinct beginning, middle and unambiguous ending. That’s not to say that you may not be scratching your head at times. It does not exactly follow the standard linear form of storytelling, but it manages to keep you riveted the entire time. In fact, there were more than a few moments where I actually found myself leaning forward from my seat, wide eyed, with my hand covering my mouth – sometimes not even for any actual action on screen, but because the film is so visually stunning. As far as epic science fiction goes, I’m sure there will be plenty of deserved comparisons to Stanley Kubrick’s sic fi opus, 2001: A Space Odyssey. And as similar as these two films might be in some aspects, they are very different in tone. Whereas Interstellar has humanity looking to the stars for a new home in the face of impending doom, 2001’s characters venture across the vastness of space simply because they can, because they feel compelled to do so. Now, there is definitely some of that in Interstellar as well, especially in terms of individual character agendas, but there is much more at stake in Nolan’s universe. And that is what makes the trip to the furthest reaches of space so desparate and compelling here.
I could go on and on about the various narratives, special effects and superb acting – but I feel like I would be doing a disservice to those who want to go experience this masterpiece. Just know that this film is universal…in EVERY sense of the word. So, for those who tend to shy away from science fiction because it’s not your thing, you may want to make an exception here. I think you’ll be glad you did.