My Critique of the New Movie, “Interstellar”


The plot: In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home (Source: Google search)

Questions it left me: What is the significance that Cooper doesn’t have a first name, unlike all of the other characters? If time isn’t linear, and we can go to any past, present, or future moment, what happens when people die? Do they no longer exist in time? If the movie is set in the future, then how come they drive the same kind of cars and use the same kind of computers as we do today? Who was Dr. Brand in love with? Why do we care if the human race goes extinct if we will be extinct with it? What Morse Code message does Cooper transmit to Murphy? Why don’t they suffocate in those hibernating water chambers? How did Matthew McConaughey get so old looking?

And the biggest question of all, what was the normal person’s experience of this movie?

The visuals of the movie and the soundtrack were well done. I was really relieved when no aliens popped out anywhere, because I always get nightmares from those creepy creatures devised from someone else’s imagination. And, even though it was approximately 3 hours long, I never got bored. I wasn’t tense and on the edge of my seat, like I was with ‘Argo’, but it was decently paced and had some really thought provoking themes.

Which, is my real critique of this movie: there were just too many themes. There was the time thing, and the love extending past science thing, and there being things we may not ever be able to explain, and the loyalty to your family thing, and the technology-and-over population-causing-the-world-to-end thing. I found myself wanting to resonate after Cooper or Dr. Brand spoke, to process the full capacity of what was going on, and the meaning behind it, but they spoke so quickly and the movie jumped from one theme to another, that I never quite got that luxury. I kind of wanted to watch it on DVD so I could hit pause, look up the plot on IMBD, stare at the screen for a few seconds, and figure out what exactly was going on (I don’t think the people sitting next to my friend and I really enjoyed our commentary).

The one theme I was able to grasp onto was this idea of time. In the movie, the concept of time is depicted in a non-linear spectrum; that time is a construct and actually does not exist.

The Buddhist Monks created clocks and calendars in order to regulate their prayer time. They wanted to ensure they could devote a certain percentage of their days to prayer, and we have carried this into our modern day society. I think this speaks to our human nature’s instinct towards order and control; chaos and unexplained things are scary, so we try to create scientific methods and rules to alleviate some anxiety.

But, as ‘Interstellar’ suggests, moments in time are transitory, unstable, and cannot necessarily be measured. We can prove this, too. I think about watching my dance team compete, and how slowly time seems to move, how I anticipate the turn section and the ending pose, despite the fact that their routine is only two minutes long. When I watch the same routine on video, it is a quick two minutes. Or, I think about waiting for that job-offering phone call, or grad school acceptance letter, and how excruciatingly slowly time seemed to roll. Or, how quickly the weekends seem to pass. Or, my favorite date, and how, I can go back and pull apart every moment in my mind, and it seems to last forever.

As Americans, we are not really good with the whole concept of ‘time’. We look at time as capital. We want to regulate it, so that we can tell people when they are supposed to be places. We want to put a price tag on it, so we can pay people, but also make a profit for ourselves. And, we want to pack the most amount of productivity in the least amount of it, so we can have time to do other things.

As Americans, we always find ourselves saying, “there just isn’t enough time”. But, as ‘Interstellar’ suggests, perhaps there is; it’s just in another dimension that we cannot see, but we must trust.

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