“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,” quotes Michael Caine from Dylan Thomas in Christopher Nolan’s new sci-fi epic “Interstellar.” This is a highly ambitious film, full of spectacle and gaze, emotion and tragedy, and mind-bending intellectual theory that transcends knowledge known today.
Let’s get this straight. Nolan himself is an individual who gets much more scrutiny than his other fellow directors. Some say his films have “all brain and no heart,” and yes ,knowing the basic concepts of relativity will surely help you in understanding the scientific concepts the film explores, but they’re explained in the film as well. This film, all in all, is the most emotional film Nolan has made to date. The film may have a huge, space canvas, but the story can boil down to the relationship between a father and his daughter. I saw this movie with a couple of friends and we all agreed that there are some scenes in the film that will put you on the verge of tears (manly tears, of course). Speaking of which, Matthew McConaughey seriously has come a long way from “How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” and he especially delivers in this.
If you go see “Interstellar,” I highly recommend seeing it in some sort of IMAX. It is imperative to see the movie in as large a screen as possible, which is really the only way to fully appreciate the technical scale of the film. From IMAX, you can see the ambition that Nolan presents and tear away that physical barrier of the screen between the you and the movie. The images presented in the film will give you a sense of rage and awe, including an incredible sequence of travelling through a wormhole and another sequence involving a black hole. Shots of space, Saturn, and the exoplanets they visit also give an edge-of-your-seat experience. Perhaps the most surprising part about the film is Hans Zimmer’s different approach to the soundtrack of the movie. At times, the score is loud and bombastic (which makes hearing dialogue sometimes difficult) but it is also very calm and soothing, especially in the more emotional scenes in the film. This score is arguably Zimmer’s most experimental to date, but it is also his most rewarding musically and emotionally.
As technically rewarding as “Interstellar” can be, it does fall a bit short in the narrative section. The movie, already three hours long, could have been about half an hour longer. More development in the first act would have helped the transition between the jump from Earth to space. Some characters in the film also appear out of nowhere in the film, including the character who Topher Grace plays, whom one can recognize from “That 70’s Show” and who comes on stage mid-way through the film with no real sense of direction or purpose.
Apart from a few mishaps with narrative structure and character development, some intense mindbending phenomena occur once you journey into the third act of the film. It’s the part of the film where the scientific theories developed before the third act fall second to the more traditional “sci-fi” stereotypes. That’s not to demean the final act in any way, because there are no accepted scientific theories that could possibly explain it anyway. It’s meant to be open-ended, and some might see that as underdeveloped or confusing for the sake of being confusing, but many others will see it as thought-provoking. And, to be honest, it really is thought-provoking. It deals with questions of the unknown, our future as a race, and the forces that bind us to each other.
This is surely a movie that will be debated for the rest of the year and most likely after that. Perhaps that will bode well for the film, for “2001: A Space Odyssey” itself polarized critics and audiences when it was first released, and look at where the prestige of that film holds today. That being said, “Interstellar” is not a masterpiece, but it is far more ambitious, intellectual, and emotional than some other films you might have seen this year and in previous years. It is not Nolan’s best film, but in many ways it is his first attempt as a seasoned director to weave scientific theory, humongous scale, and raw emotion in a basket that transcends its contemporaries in cinema.
Usmani is a member of
the class of 2017.