Interstellar – The film that still redefines how we look at space travel

Interstellar – The film that still redefines how we look at space travel

Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s first film venture into space, and it’s a film that could redefine how we think about the sustainability of our planet for the next decade.

Interstellar – Christopher Nolan – 2014 –  

Interstellar asks all the right questions. Are we destroying the only planet we have? What happens when the food runs out? Just how sustainable is our planet in the long run?

Interstellar tugs at the heartstrings, challenges your intellect and provides a very real view on our world, gravity, time and family life in this futuristic sci-fi family drama.

Nolan really shoots for the stars with interstellar. A run time of almost 3 hours and glorious special effects portray space as if you were really there, experiencing every shift in gravity and visualling every star in the sky.

It’s a film that really aims to excite and thrill you and entice your senses with visual bravado and a hair-raising soundtrack. It’s slightly let down by a chaotic ending that delves into deep science and farfetched theories on time and gravity.

Never the less, the final product is a polished, intergalactic masterpiece.

The premise

The film was made under close supervision of leading physicist Kip Thorne, so it’s very believable yet somehow remains borderline absurd. It starts with stark contrasts, set in the mid-west where the crops are perishing and food remains scarce.

Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal of Cooper is excellent; playing a humble farmer resigned to his fate and whose sole purpose is that of the survival of the human race.

Later revealed to be a former test pilot and engineer, his journey into space begins after his daughter Murph experiences supernatural occurrences in the family home. This leads to a top secret NASA base in the Midwestern desert, where he finds Professor Brand (Michael Caine).

Caine plays a physicist looking for a pilot to lead an ambitious voyage into space to find a new home for the human race.

The professors daughter and astronaut, Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), is in charge of leading the team on their interstellar journey.

The Journey itself

For Cooper, there’s a catch. The journey means he could never see his children again. If he could see them again, they will be much older, possibly even older than he is when he departs. Their expedition sees them heading to planets where time is relative, meaning an hour on a planet counts as 7 years back home on earth.

Cooper’s prime drive for success is the assurance of his childrens future through science combined with the emotions family life and drama. Nolan intertwines the two beautifully.

McCounaghey plays the role perfectly, drawing comparisons to his Oscar winning performance in Dallas Buyers Club. He plays the side of Cooper that is striving for success and shows rugged determination when his back is against the wall.

He also shows us the family man, the father, when he receives video messages from his family in a heart-wrenching scene that bought some of the audience (and me) to tears themselves.

Hathaway’s performance is quite reserved yet shows her portraying a character split between her professionalism as an astronaut, a daughter and her veiled emotions. Murph, portrayed as an adult by Jessica Chastain, is now working as a physicist with Professor Brand at NASA.

Her drive is solving the mysteries of space, time and gravity whilst grappling with her emotional childhood and lack of a father in her life. Brand seems to fill this void well, providing guidance and tutelage to Murph.

An incredible soundtrack

The soundtrack activates your most primal feelings as a human, simulates every nerve in your body and stretches your senses in an unforgettable fashion. It wraps up the whole film phenomenally.

Composed masterfully by the great Hans Zimmer, his use of church organs is bold and obtrusive to your ears yet never feels overpowering.

Nolan and Zimmer also capture the silence and despair of space excellently, filling the voids with an atmosphere of tension and the use of Shepard tones, leaving viewers in a suspension of intensity and the feeling of unfilled expectation.

One scene that underlines the human element is when an astronaut listens to the sounds of rain falling and thunder clapping and is transported away from the metallic surroundings of the vehicle, which feels subtly like a prison. It captures the human essence perfectly.

A visual masterpiece

The film takes you on long journeys through space, traversing black holes and entering worm holes that were never meant to be explored by humans.

Two humanoid computers, the brutally honest TARS and the quieter and more sensible CASE, provide humorous comedic value to the film. 

The special effects and cinematography are immense, jumping from drab scenes of the mid west to outer space in all its infinite glory. Space is portrayed in colour and vibrancy, the planets detailed and hospitable and the scenes aboard their ship make you feel as if you;re along for the ride.

There’s explosions, scientific dialogue and jargon and special effects that will leave you with your mouth wide open more than once.

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Interstellar won’t redefine the sci-fi genre as a whole, but provides everything you would want from a sci-fi classic. Any sci-fi fan, an old school die-hard or a casual fan, would feel right at home watching Interstellar.

It’s adventurously emotional, slightly nonsensical and a film that hits you from all angles.

To this day, it’s still my favourite film of any genre.

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