Christopher Nolan’s new space opera Interstellar has recently hit silver screens all over the world. What makes it so much talked about and special?
The Earth is doomed: an unknown blight kills one food crop after another and dust storms become the norm. The mankind switches back to the agricultural society abandoning science. An ex-NASA engineer Cooper is entrusted to head a space mission to a possibly habitable planet (through an enigmatically appeared wormhole) to rescue the humanity.
The film delivers at the plot level as a suspenseful space extravaganza and as a philosophical saga. Hans Zimmer’s awe-inspiring score augments the visual awesomeness of the gargantuan waves on Miller’s planet and the frozen clouds of Mann’s. Often critised as corny are Cooper’s co-pilot and astrophysicist Amelia’s words
‘Love is the only thing that transcends time and space’
reminded me of Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev’s
‘Love covers everything, hopes and believes everything, overcomes everything. Love never ceases’
They are not just a sentimental outburst, they provide the symbolic foreshadowing to Cooper’s revelation in the climax.
Interstellar also shines in science communication. Nolan’s co-writer Kip Thorne, a theoretical physics, infused into it current scientific ideas that he further explained in his new book, The Science of Interstellar.
In the final leap where all plot and thematic lines converge, Cooper ends up in the epicentre of a Gargantuan blackhole (which makes me think about Pantagruel’s whereabouts), a gravitational singularity, beautifully realised as a tesseract with time being a fourth spatial dimension.
Here the plot end meets its beginning in a Moebius strip twist, lyrically revealing the identity of a ghost who’d sent Cooper on a journey and separated him from his daughter Murph in the first place.
The father and daughter relationship is also explored in Carl Sagan’s scifi epic, Contact (1997), directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey (the lead in Interstellar). Dr Elleanor Arroway , a SETI scientist detects a signal presumably sent by some extra-terrestrial life. Further communication results in building a space-travel apparatus, acting like a wormhole in Interstellar, which sends Elleanor to an unknown part of the Universe where she meets her father. Sagan writes in Contact,
‘For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.’
And so wrote Dante in The Divine Comedy before him in the XIVth century,
‘Here vigour fail’d the tow’ring fantasy:
But yet the will roll’d onward, like a wheel
In even motion, by the Love impell’d,
That moves the sun in heav’n and all the stars.’
Maybe Nolan is not the ‘cheescake’ afterall, he simply respects the tradition.