Memento, the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and the hit TV series Person of Interest are but a glimpse at the caliber and quality the Nolan brothers possess. The best pieces of each of their bodies of work collide into the mesmerizing, moving, and magnificent film Interstellar.
I had the wonderful opportunity to see Interstellar in IMAX with a film projected print (not digital). While I am a fan of digital technology, the grit of a film print increased the experience of the Dust-Bowl-esque culture of earth life. Not only do people have to wipe dust and dirt from their dining room tables, there’s grit and grain on the screen itself. Nolan’s choice to shoot with ‘old-fashioned’ film is spot-on appropriate for this story.
What a story. Generically speaking, the film is about a future world where resources have become so limited, the human race is facing extinction. To help save the people remaining, multiple missions are launched in search of another planet to inhabit. Though there is a lot of plots points regarding space travel, interstellar theories, etc., the film is also about a father and his family, and the influence a father plays upon and within that family dynamic (his influence when present and when he is absent); and how a father, at times, will have to struggle with the deep emotion of regret regarding choices made (regardless of intention).
Oscar-winners Jessica Chastain, Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Michael Cain (a super high-caliber cast) give some of the best performances of their careers (yes, all of them). If there are not multiple Academy Award acting nominations for this film it will be a true travesty. Also, expect a nomination for musical score, special effects, art design, editing, and cinematography (possibly not best picture/director/screenplay, but it does deserve all those as well...however, there are too many other films which are more likely to fill up the spaces for those three crowded categories).
The story is epic, sweeping, and so full even the nearly three hour length of the film cannot contain it all…and doesn’t. The ending, while uplifting and encouraging, can divide some viewers between those who prefer neatly wrapped up premises and those who can appreciate the ‘left-undone-plotlines.’ At least the story allows the audience to know where the story is likely going, and what will probably transpire in the years/decades to come (no, this film does not end with the ambiguous ending of Inception, but does not have the finality of the Dark Knight Rises).
Interstellar also has the ability to spark a lot of conversations about worldviews, the purpose and meaning of history, the role of public education enhancing (or totally destroying) history, and the purpose/goal of human existence. The film does tend to teeter towards declaring humanity’s goal of being pioneers over being caretakers of the earth. Personally, I tend to see (coming from a Biblical worldview) humanity needing to be both: both pioneers/explorers as well as being caretakers and good stewards of what we have been given.
In short, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan rebirth the sci-fi genre on a grand scale, reviving the philosophical DNA of the genre. Too often science fiction has become just about little green men and monsters with a plethora of explosions, and it is refreshing to see philosophical sci-fi done on such a grand scale…and done by the hands of story-telling masters.
I highly recommend seeing Interstellar, and see it on the biggest screen you can afford (yes, I did my best to not comment on details of the story as I do not want to spoil the multiple surprises).