Film #129: Interstellar (2014)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Language: English
Length: 169 minutes
Watched on: 22 Nov 2014

In a rare instance of actually being on the ball, I went to see Interstellar during the opening weekend, after work one day. I’d heard a lot of good things about it before going in, so I was interested to see how it’d compare.

The story concerns a future version of Earth, in which there’s been some kind of plight or drought, perhaps a disease of crops. Most crops have died out except corn. Society becomes focused on growing food at the expense of anything else, and social controls are put in place. Then the main character, a former astronaut relegated to being a farmer, discovers the former NASA gone into hiding, and is hired on the spot for the next mission, to go into a mysterious wormhole that’s opened up, to try and find a new homeworld for humanity.

The film is hot on the heels of Gravity, released just a year before. The graphics are by far the most stunning thing about it, and it’s said that many of the unexpected visual effects, particularly the wormhole’s 3D effect and the “lensing” effect on the black hole later on, were discovered organically by the filmmakers. It also has a strong thematic and visual link to 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I think is effectively acknowledged by the film on a couple of occasions.

Aside from the space stuff, the film’s focus is family, to a dogged degree. The main character can’t go five minutes without mentioning how much he misses his daughter back on Earth, and every conversation ultimately links back to her, or to his quest to get back to Earth. He is repeatedly told not to keep going on about it, so is very happy to admonish Anne Hathaway’s character for admitting she had an ulterior motive for going through the wormhole.

The ending is left ambiguous, and is very much in the style of 2001. Without wishing to go into too much detail, a lot of it simply didn’t make physical sense, and seemed a bit of a stretch, to say the least. It managed to tie up a plot point from the beginning, but the way it did so just opened up too many other questions.

I liked the film a lot, but it’s important to note that, while undoubtedly the most grandiose in scale, Interstellar is thematically a lot simpler than past works by Nolan. It’s the difference between a skilful reveal, such as was used in The Prestige, and trying to come across as profound here but having ultimately a messy ending. Messy ending aside, though, I’d recommend seeing this film, even if just for the visuals – and unlike Gravity, there’s definitely more to it than that.


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