“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
Never before has the word “science” been so appropriate in a science-fiction film. There are no aliens, no killer robots, no foreign viruses, or flying cars. Only the idea that one day we as a species will neither thrive nor be able to live on the planet we call home.
Two years ago, when I saw “Gravity,” I said that it would be remembered as one of the great achievements in cinema. I had not seen such a realistic depiction of outer space since the first time I watched “2001: A Space Odyssey” when I fifteen. I marbled at how far technology has taken us when I sat in the theater watching Sandra Bullock breath like a mad woman. But then, I saw the great space station Endurance shrink to the size of a grain of sand as it passed by Saturn (similar to Lawrence and the desert in “Lawrence of Arabia”), and I now have to take my statement back. While other directors try to become Kubrick’s masterpiece that is “2001,” director Christopher Nolan does not seek to do so. Instead he chose to take technical cues from “2001” to create a unique film that is both beautiful and at times emotional.
There’s a moment when Cooper spends a few hours on a potential planet to replace earth, only to find out that when he returned to the Endurance, that over twenty-two years had passed. He sits at a monitor and watches messages from his family from those past years and realizes that with time, life itself has passed before him. His son informs him in different messages spanning the years that he has met a girl, he’s married that girl, they a child, they had another child, one of their children died, and then his father died. When the messages have completed, the image of his grown daughter (Chastain) comes onto the screen. It is strange how Nolan was able to demonstrate how life can pass at the blink of an eye. He uses time as a metaphor for life itself to show that the emotional power and weight of love will not flow with time and gravity.
“Interstellar” does not have the best screenplay. With scientists explaining science in the same timespan as three episodes of “Cosmos” due to the complexity of its plot, it’s a surprise that Neil DeGrasse Tyson was not hired to simply walk onto the screen to explain what a wormhole is to us. I have read many reviews comparing this film to “2001.” The only problem is that it will only be a distant second to Kubrick’s masterpiece. In addition to the technological advances, high demonstration of form by Kubrick, and its realism, “2001” had a screenplay that gave soul and wisdom to the film. “Interstellar” is a near great film. Each member of the creative team has shown through this film, what it means to be the cream of one’s craft. Nolan has an Oscar nod in his near future. Composer Hans Zimmer has strayed away from the bass heavy composition that he is so known for to create a score that is filled with wonder and beauty. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and Production Designer Nathan Crowley have created some of the most beautiful shots of the decade. Even Casting Director John Papsidera was able to find the correct actor for every role.
The only thing wrong with the film was its screenplay written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan. And for a film with very little flaws, the one flaw that created the biggest problem was it’s most important element. But I digress.