*SPOILER ALERT – INTERSTELLAR MOVIE*
When They released another “space movie” so soon after Gravity (2013) that was supposed to be THE movie, some sort of groundbreaking, amazing, awe-worthy movie, I had my doubts. I had a moment of “Are moving into a space era?” You know how the film industry goes through phases? They’ve been stuck on Superhero for quite some time. Not that long ago, it was remakes. They go through these cycles. Whether or not that is what is happening, I still don’t know. It’s probably not. Even if it is, that’s okay. Movies about space are more often than not, brilliant. (Let’s forget about Event Horizon (1997) for just a moment) Filled amazing visuals, gripping story, heart-wrenching emotion and more often than not something that’s quite relevant to our time, or maybe even something that we’ve all wondered was possible.
That’s exactly what Interstellar was for me. By the end of the film, I had totally forgotten my initial reaction from when I first heard about it.
Set in the future – how far, I have no idea, but it’s so far in the future, that we’ve almost gone back in time. Set in a time where there is a world-wide food shortage, and textbooks teach that the moon landing was actually faked, we are shown what appear to be interview snippets of people talking about the past. Farmlands and dust. This, coupled with images of people in old country farmhouses, dealing with said dust, lead me to believe we were being told about a time in OUR past. The first indication that we aren’t is when we get into the story, and we see a laptop – cleverly hidden by this dust/dirt – being set up.
Straight into the story at this point and we slowly realise that we aren’t in our past but in fact so far into the future and everything is a bit f***ed up. We don’t spend too long wondering exactly what went wrong, and we learn in a school parent-teacher conference that the world basically ran out of food. This has caused civilisation to regress. Farming is the new college, much to main character – brilliantly played by Matthew McConaughey – Coop’s annoyance. Despite the ongoing struggles of the world, he still wants what he believes is best for his kids. To him, that is college, training in a field such as science or engineering, rather than a field full of corn.
In Coop’s home you will notice there is no TV, no mobiles phones… in fact for a future civilization, there very little technology. This is something that I particularly loved about this film. We’re so used to seeing futuristic films with flying cars, voice controlled homes and mobiles phones built into our palms. I love the postapocalyptic feel it has.
The story – in brief – goes that after “discovering” (or rather being sent to by an unknown, unseen force) a secret NASA base complete with comical yet unsettling robots (TARS and CASE), Anne Hathaway’s Dr Brand, and her father – Michael Cane – Dr Brand, and other scientists, Coop must go with his team to find a new home for the human race. Sounds easy… except that he must go through a black hole and visit as many of these planets as possible to see which is the most likely possibility. Even then, Dr Brand (Cane) might not be able to get the human race up there. Plan B consists of colonies made up of the frozen human embryos they take on board with them, just in case they can’t even make it back!
Here is where the theme of love, and ongoing battle with tough choices gets really… well tough. Does Coop go and try to save the world, or stay at home with his kids. Of course he goes. Although we really get the sense that he isn’t going to save the human race, he is going to save his children. He leaves his daughter Murph (named after Murphy’s Law, what can happen, will happen) a watch, and tells her that when he returns home, they will compare them.
He clearly has a need for this mission to be over as quick as possible, let’s be efficient, let’s get it done and get home. Plan A has to work. He has to see his children again, and hopefully before they’ve aged too much. It almost feels like once he’s up there, his mission isn’t to save the human race but to get back to Murph. Which is why he is angered so much when they go to their first planet (Already they’ve been gone for at least 2 years) where each earth hour is 7 hours and it goes horribly wrong. Upon landing, they discover water, and a missing scientist. Most likely dead. Why? Because there are HUGE waves in this place. Losing one of their own before they get back and not being able to take off straight away costs them 23 years by the time they do make it back. Whilst they have only aged by a few hours, the remaining member of the team that stayed behind (Romilly) is lonely, scared and 23 years older.
Coop is angry. Brand is sorry. Does Coop blame her for what went wrong? I feel that he does a little and his choice to go to Mann’s (Matt Damon) planet is almost a punishment for her (She is in love with Edmund’s, who is on the other planet that they could have gone to) and she clearly points out that there may come a time when he has to choose between returning to his kids and setting up a colony.
They discover that Dr Brand (Michael Cane, back on earth) has died, and that he knew all along that plan A would fail. Another let down for the team, and for particularly for Murph back on earth.
Mann’s planet is another let down. In fact, all they find is a poisonous atmosphere, lots of ice and a scientist gone crazy. Romilly dies, and Mann makes life very difficult for them.
This is where, for me anywhere, the film started to get very rushed.
Again, they are faced with a hard choice. Go back to earth, or travel on to Edmund’s planet. They are nearly out of fuel, and to get to Edmund’s means loosing another 51 years of earth time. However, they do it anyway, only Coop and TARS detach themselves, to go into the black hole to collect data for Brands equation. At this point, I’m nearly crying not knowing if Coop will make it, in fact knowing that he probably won’t.
Once inside this part of the black-hole, Coop is faced with what appears to be rows and rows of books. It’s Murphy’s bedroom from different periods in time. (At the beginning of the film, Murph has a “Ghost” who turns out to be the “them” who communicates with her through Morse Code) The “them” is actually Coop.
The majority of films that deal with space and time work off this theory that (I’m not a scientific person whatsoever, keep that in mind) things happen on a loop. This moment right now, me typing, will continue to happen over and over.
That’s why Doc Brown and Marty Mcfly can travel back to any moment, but if they change anything it creates an alternative future. The past can’t be changed without risking the future. The future is uncertain, because it hasn’t happened yet. Or something like that.
His message to Murph as a child for him to “stay” doesn’t work. Thinking fast, he encodes (this part I do not understand, I’m not scientific enough, but it’s pretty cool) TARS’s data onto the watch that he left for Murph, in Morse code. The adult Murphy finds it and realizes that’s what’s happening.
The black hole (or the area that he is in) collapses, and he wakes up in a hospital bed. Murphy uses the data to complete the equation.
Suddenly, he wakes up in a hospital bed. For moment, I thought “I hope he didn’t dream it all” His is on a NASA space station. As are the rest of the human race. Murphy saved them. They no longer have 24 hours days… instead they have 36 hours of daylight, and another 36 hours nighttime.
Murphy finally sees his daughter – briefly – who is on her death-bed. She forgives him and goes to find Amelia on Edmund’s planet where she is alone and implementing plan B.
That was supposed to be a brief outline of what happens… maybe it’s a bit longer than I intended!
I loved this film. The acting was superb, the sets were beautiful and the story was a bit different what we’re used to. I enjoyed the reoccurring theme of love, and how it is something that we can all experience and still not understand.
However, it did have its downfalls. Possibly 30-45 minutes too long, which I felt made them rush the ending. If they could have removed something at some point from earlier on in the film, then maybe they could have had a bit more of an explanation at the ending. I know that there will be people who won’t have needed that, but not all of us are science savvy.
It also would have been interesting to know a bit more about the space stations, how they go there and what life was now like for them.
I felt that Coop’s brief time spent with Murphy was a bit unbelievable. I suppose she had longer to forgive him – she’s now an old lady with her own children and grandchildren, although he appeared to have very little interest in them – but I would have thought him leaving her again would have been an impossibility for him.
We glimpse Brand at the end setting up the colonies, completely unaware that plan A has worked. It would have been interesting to see him finding her, but I guess that’s just left to our imaginations. Did he go to her, and stay there to set up the colonies, or did he bring her back with him?
Do we just assume his other son had died? There are definitely some unanswered questions.
Still, what a film! Lots of twists and turns, none of which I saw coming!