Interstellar (Nolan, 2014) is an intriguing motion picture. One interpretation could imply that the protagonist (Cooper) is a disillusioned farmer who wants to renew his pilot licence and get away from everything, including his beloved family. This conceit is veiled as a heavenly road trip that may benefit his offspring or ultimately save mankind. Cooper feels like a jaded Luke Skywalker of sorts, a parallel version that listened to Uncle Owen and stayed away from adventure until he absolutely had to leave. Indeed, Interstellar represents certainties within and without time. Although Murph (Cooper’s daughter) is painted as a forward-thinking pioneer of interdimensional theory, her true desire was for Cooper to stay and actually be her father. Murph would have destroyed all aspects of time to keep her father safe at home.
Indeed, the creeping antagonist is time itself, personified through pain, loss, lies, regret and blind duty. It seems unnecessary to get preoccupied with the science of Interstellar (especially the undeniably spectacular wormhole sequences) because the story focuses on pure escapism and grasping unexplainable wonders of the universe. The film cleverly draws on, and to a certain extent depends upon, cherished memories of classic science fiction imagery and merges those feelings into a surprisingly coherent and touching dimension-hopping adventure. The TARS and CASE robots are inspirational designs, perhaps spawned from Stanley Kubrick’s monolith of 2001, A Space Odyssey (1968) and given tangible life.
Towards the ending, Cooper awakens in a bed… cue dream sequence? Not to be. Instead, the audience is treated to another thoughtful tribute to Kubrick’s perspective altering 2001, A Space Odyssey. Perhaps Cooper’s viewpoint is always from the outside looking in and that is why the ambiguous closing scene is so effective. Does Cooper find Brand (his potential love interest) or is he merely at the start of an existential journey that only he will experience after the closing credits? In comparison, Dave Bowman, the protagonist of 2001, A Space Odyssey is literally reborn as the next representation of mankind.
In conclusion, Interstellar opens slowly and introduces a family, then blasts time and space in our unsuspecting faces, and doesn’t hold back until the final moments when Cooper gains access to all dimensions. In fact, if one considers the scene where a pencil is forced through folded paper, illustrating vast distances covered instantaneously, it is entirely possible that the audience becomes the pencil and we are forced through what might have been an extended experience. If that line of thought is to be considered valid, then perhaps a director’s cut edition will drop out of a wormhole sometime in the future.
Kubrick’s Odyssey spawned a reasonably successful sequel with 2010 (Hyams, 1984). Let us hope that Christopher Nolan (Director) has the good sense to leave Interstellar as a stimulating project without the burden of lesser material.
Final thought: Interstellar captures that magical moment of staying in on a rainy Sunday afternoon with nothing but an epic voyage beyond the stars for company.