This weekend I had my bi-weekly afternoon reprieve from my parenting duties and decided to go see the latest Christopher Nolan film “Interstellar”. I found it to be an emotionally involving film laden with anxious moments and wonderful spectacles.
I had no idea what to expect when I saw this movie as I had heard very little about it. However, this is absolutely my preferred way of seeing a film. My own expectations seem to only negatively affect the watching experience. Bowling For Columbine & The Matrix are two others I have seen with limited prior knowledge and to this day remain two of my favorite films.
In Interstellar the Earth is dying and is unable to provide enough food for everyone on the planet. Corn is the only crop that continues to grow but it’s demise is still certain, if not immediate. What was once soil has turned to dust and is often thrown about in violent wind storms.
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a widower who works unwillingly as a farmer, because that’s what the planet needs, even though he is trained as a pilot and an engineer. Through a series of events that I will not detail here Cooper ends up at what is left of NASA and soon becomes part of the team charged with finding a new planet to live on.
Through sheer chance, or luck, or whatever, a wormhole has opened up on the other side of Saturn and it leads to three planets in a different galaxy that could be potential new homes for the current residents of planet earth. Coopers job is to lead a team there and decide which one is the best, if any. This mission will take years, if not decades, and Cooper is forced to leave his unforgiving daughter, Murphy, at home.
For me the relationship between Father and Daughter was the most engaging part of the story as they had a most powerful bond. But when a chance arose for Cooper to realize his true calling, the resentful farmer wasted little time in deciding to head for the stars. A decision that undoubtedly haunted him throughout the entire journey.
Time was a major theme touched on throughout the picture and played prominently in its most powerful scene. It involved a short visit to a planet orbiting just outside the event horizon of a black hole. In what was just a few short hours to those who went on the mission was experienced as 23 years on earth (and 23 years for the crew member who stayed on the ship). Cooper returned only to watch a backlog of video messages from earth tearfully watching his son grow up, get married, have kids, and to finally hear from his daughter who had now reached the age he was when he left. It was an incredibly powerful scene that made me want to run out of the theaters and go home and hug my daughters.
This was my learning point in the film. That no matter how noble your quest may be, even if it is to save the entire human race, if it takes you away from the people you love then it is not worth it. Love trumps all, even survival.
Another unavoidable takeaway from this film was how unique a place our planet earth is. To experience the vast emptiness of space as they sped towards Saturn watching the earth becomes smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror is overwhelming. I started to truly realize how incredible it is that we are on one of the rare places in the universe that is an absolute utopia. We could very well have to travel across many galaxies before finding another place like this.
I really enjoyed this film. I loved that it tackled some big questions, and offered up some equally big answers. The visuals provided of travelling through a wormhole or crossing into a black hole were astonishing. Go see it but don’t get the large pop as you won’t want to leave your seat.