“Haunting” might be the best way to describe Christopher Nolan’s latest cinematic masterpiece. The setting, the tone, the characters (and the ubiquitously excellent Hans Zimmer score) all work together to create a pervading sense of doom, loss and heartache.
But like any good ghost story, ‘Interstellar’ is also a story of hope. Hope that one small thing – in this case, love – can transcend time and space. And even death.
If that all sounds a little too touchy-feeling for a “hard” science-fiction story, then fear not – there’s plenty of science to go around. Some might say too much.
Some. Not me though.
I loved it.
We start the film on a near-future Earth ravaged by ecological collapse. A crop disease known as the Blight is systematically destroying humanity’s food resources. Unbeknowst to the majority, who struggle to survive in an extreme agrarian society where the scientific “excesses” of the past are derided and frequent dust storms threaten life and limb, the Blight is also eating up Earth’s oxygen supply, and will one day (soon) consign the human race to extinction.
That is, of course, unless a small group of dedicated scientists and explorers, operating under the umbrella of a much-changed NASA, can find us a new planet to call home.
Into this group is brought Joe “Coop” Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former pilot turned reluctant farmer and father of two, who lives with his children, father-in-law and the memory of his departed wife in this quasi-Dust Bowl setting.
Prompted by gravitational anomalies (which Coop’s daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) is initially convinced are a ghost), our hero is drawn to the secret facility where Dr Brand (Michael Caine) is working with his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) and fellow scientists Romilly (David Gyasi) and Doyle (Wes Bentley) on a plan to save humanity.
It seems a wormhole has appeared out by Saturn that allows passage to another galaxy, and the opportunity to colonise new worlds. If Coop and his intrepid crew can make it and identify the best possible candidate; and if Dr Brand can solve the “riddle” of gravity that will allow the rest of the poor sods left on Earth to make the trip.
From there, the plot really does go “interstellar”, contrasting the astronauts’ experiences and struggles amongst distant stars with the struggles of those left behind, waiting (as it turns out) decades for any word thanks to the effects of relativity.
To say too much would be to ruin both the awesome spectacle and the emotional depth of the story. Suffice to say, there’s plenty of thrills as well as a ton of scientific speculation, and not a little philosophising to boot.
Also, if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be too close to a black hole, this is the movie for you.
As I said before, I loved it. That’s because I love this sort of thing.
Last year’s ‘Gravity’ with Sandra Bullock – that was my jam!
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and ‘Silent Running’, two titans of the genre – classics that I’ve known and loved for years.
The literary works of Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Baxter and Alistair Reynolds – got them!
All of these (excepting maybe ‘Gravity’, a near-contemporary) could have easily been an influence on ‘Interstellar’. Certainly ‘2001’ looms large over everything in the genre.
But in truth, ‘Interstellar’ is its own beast. Thanks to the writing of Jonathon Nolan, the steady hand of Christopher Nolan, the stunning cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema and the real-world scientific advice of Kip Thorne, the movie feels solid. And the performances are just as good.
See it. In IMAX if possible. But just see it.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
– Dylan Thomas.