Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, it will have been somewhat difficult to ignore the huge blockbuster successes that have been Inception, The Prestige or even the Batman trilogy, all embossed with a Christopher Nolan stamp. So when he announced his return in 2014 with Interstellar, it’s safe to say the bar was set very high.
Nolan tends to stick to classic Freytag-esque narrative structures, but what separates his filmography from the masses is that he explores areas of the human mind and our sensorial and material world in ways that have never been attempted before in Hollywood cinema. Interstellar tells the story of a group of explorers who travel through space in search of a new habitable planet amongst the stars, as life on Earth comes to an end.
Interstellar is different to Christopher Nolan’s other films. In most of his features, the complex and rich plot lines demand long analyses and discussions immediately after having seen the film. Although this does apply to the narrative of Interstellar, it is one of few very special films that leaves you completely speechless. It feels as if an overwhelmingly powerful tidal wave of emotion has hit you straight in the face, leaving you unconditionally disorientated and at an utter loss for what to think or say.
Most sci-fi spectaculars leave the viewers astounded by the visual and technical genius, and create an incredible buzz, all of us endlessly searching for answers. Interstellar does not only this with its jaw-dropping visuals and beautifully crafted original score by Hans Zimmer, but it also harbors the capacity to reach out and touch you deeply as an individual.
It raises immense questions about the human race, science and the future, and yet it is the profuse emotional bonds, especially between Cooper and his daughter Murphy, that allow us to understand that Interstellar marks the birth of much more than just another sci-fi spectacular. The on-screen relationships are so believable and moving that the viewer feels intricately related to the characters, although seemingly having nothing in common. We connect with the characters not necessarily through their narrative arcs and experiences, but as cheesy as it sounds, we connect with them on a deep emotional level.
The film explores vast themes such as science and love, but the most prominent value is the one representing the common ground between the two – hope. Hope is the key to the entire resolution of the film. It is what keeps Cooper, Murph and everyone else alive. It guides the space mission; fuels the explorers’ drive and keeps everyone back on Earth from giving up. But most importantly, it is what keeps the viewer completely mesmerized and moved by the film from beginning to end. Although from time to time the various feats do not seem entirely plausible and the science does not always add up, overall Nolan deals with the scientific side rather accurately (at least it seems that way to non-overly scientific film buffs…) and depicts love, loyalty and nostalgia extremely tastefully.
And although science exists to be explained, demonstrated and understood, it is not always the case for things such as the human mind, love, and art. Interstellar is a piece of art that reaches out to each and every one of us and touches on subjects that affect us all. It cannot always be summarized with words or explained rationally, and sometimes just simply asks to be felt.
Originally published on Epigram