Reviews, Vol I, Issue II
“A real magician tries to invent something new, that other magicians are gonna scratch their heads over.”
This quote by Alfred Borden (played by Christian Bale) in The Prestige (2006) pretty much sums up what the brand Christopher Nolan is all about. His new instalment, Interstellar, is now in the theatres and man o man, what a ride it is! If one has to capsule the story of Interstellar, it would read something like this; this is basically the story of Cooper and his bond with his daughter Murph that surpasses the limits of the universe. The plot of the movie has been based in the future where the climate of earth is deteriorating at a rapid pace. The only chance for human beings to survive is to find a new abode in some other galaxy where they can start life afresh. This daunting task is laid upon Cooper, to pilot the spaceship Endurance, which will go through a wormhole discovered near Saturn and hunt for a new earth. But the story is not as simple as it reads. There are so many elements, so many concepts that Nolan has introduced (and that is what we expect from a director who has made Memento and Inception): theory of relativity, wormhole, black hole, time and gravity as other dimensions, and so on; that it becomes an uneasy and adventurous ride for us as it is for Cooper and his crew. However, behind all these heavy concepts, there is the strong emotion of love that becomes the main thrust of this movie.
Just pass through Nolan’s archive of works and there is a pattern that you might trace evolving through them: a gradual development of his protagonist from Following dealing with the existential crisis on a minuscule level towards the higher realities of the cosmos in Interstellar, which is directly proportional to the advancement of Chris Nolan as a director. He is one of the brightest students of cinema who emerges with new sets of grammar and language of image with each of his movies. And one thing that has become his signature style is his obsession with the concept of space and time, or space-time (as Einstein refers), and how it affects individuals. In Interstellar, he has gone way ahead of his previous movies in dealing with such high concepts which one has to brainstorm with repeated viewings to understand them. And I have not even talked about the visuals yet. Oh, what an experience it was! If there are flaws in the movie (there are a few), all of them will be subsided with the grandiose of the visuals. Just invest yourself in his world; you will come out with a never felt before riveting experience.
Among so many things that I loved in this movie, few that consumed me are:
1. Before Nolan, no other director tried his hands towards explaining the mystery of the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which symbolised intelligence and became the cause of our development from apes to what we are today (and also what we will be in the future). Paying his tribute to master filmmaker, he came with the idea of TARS (one of the marine robots), that travelled through time covering different centuries after it fell into the Gargantuan black hole. I personally loved this idea by Nolan that connected Interstellar instantly with 2001: A Space Odyssey explaining the uncharted territory of Kubrick’s philosophy.
2. In the movie, when Cooper is dropped into the fifth dimension, where he gains access to time and gravity as physical entity that he uses further to convey messages to his daughter, the very scene becomes so intense and emotional that one can go through the psyche of Nolan himself. The concept of filmmaker as someone who has an access to parallel times (and yes, they gain this through their camera) have been repeated quite a few times in different movies (Hugo and Inception are among such examples), but this movie becomes so personal for Nolan that in that very scene, we can see the struggle of a maker to look for and give directions to his greatest creation, his daughter, so that she may be safe and secure.
Regarding Nolan’s scientific vision and accuracy, Kip Thorne, the physicist with whom Nolan worked on the ideas of this movie, exclaims in his book The Science of Interstellar (2014): “Chris brought remarkable science ideas of his own to the film, ideas that my physicist colleagues will assume were mine, ideas that I said to myself, when I saw them, Why didn’t I think of that?” How correct Interstellar’s science is, it will be tested with time, but as far as its visual beauty goes, it is really worth watching, a movie that has purely been made for theatrical experience. Those who will be lucky to watch it onto the big screen, for them it certainly will come as a lifetime experience. When talking about visual beauty, how the background score can be ignored. Hans Zimmer always brings best for Nolan, and this time is no exception. Some of the scores are so haunting that it will shake you to your core. If Inception was a love letter to the cinema, this movie is a love letter from every dad to their daughter, and to humanity as whole (‘we will find a way, we always have’).
If you love cinema, go watch Interstellar. Whether you’ll like it or hate it, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you will remember the experience for days and will indulge in the dialogues related with this movie. This is where cinema comes at its best, and this is what we call a true cinematic experience.
Reviewed by Amar SinghAmar Singh, is a Research Scholar from Department of English, BHU, working with Prof. Anita Singh on the topic titled, “Hyperrealism and Christopher Nolan’s Cinematic Texts.”