Nothing can ever replace my experience of seeing Interstellar for the first time in the theatre. The perplexities of time warp in galaxial black holes, Hans Zimmer’s glorious pipe organ-centered score, and the state-of-the-art cinematography both on a dust bowl dying Earth and a gravity defying galaxy were truly extraordinary encounters embedded forever in my memory.
That was in 2014.
Six years later as we find ourselves practicing social distancing due to an unpredictable and calamitous COVID-19 virus, I find myself rewatching this Christopher Nolan epic and discovering so much more emotional depth, themes of accepting the unknown and simultaneously yearning to know more, and most importantly – the simple yet tremendous act of having hope.
There is the line spoken by Cooper, a NASA test pilot engineer forced to farm a dying Earth for his family’s survival: “Once you’re a parent, you’re the ghost of your children’s future.”
Cooper’s relationship with his daughter, Murphy, is a special bond of love and the quest to discover not just who or what that “ghost” is, but the scientific reasoning behind the anomalies that occur within their home.
After books inexplicably fall off the shelf and binary codes mysteriously write themselves in the dust, Cooper and Murphy embark on a journey from Earth to space, and unbeknownst to them, it ends up being more spiritual than scientific.
In 2014, I was blown away by the theory of relativity phenomenon that occurs when Cooper and his team of NASA astronauts traverse their ship through a spherical wormhole. Every two hours spent in this “evolved” world equals around seven years of life on the planet Earth. On a surface level, this Christopher Nolan mindbender was mesmerizing and my favorite part of the movie. Today, it goes into a more meaningful, “life is too short” kind of level. I found myself getting teary eyed when Cooper says goodbye to Murphy and then has to watch it happen all over again from another dimension – a fifth one that provides him the comfort of knowing there is more out there than just the tangible.
Filmmaker Christopher Nolan always baffles me. Except for my favorite in Memento (2000), his exposition-crammed screenplays and obsession with time perplexities tend to win out the character development and the heart and soul necessary to make a full-length movie tick (and his are long). I often laugh at how the wonders of manipulating dreamscapes in his Inception (2010) are played by characters of such grave seriousness. Who knew building dreams could be such a drag?
Interstellar is all about heart and soul, even when they are dampened by an understandable, stubborn inclination to follow scientific reasoning first. Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper with such subtle ease as he lets go, accepts new truths, and grasps that Albert Camus concept of “Where there is no hope, we must invent it.”
In this time of not knowing how much more intense or dire the COVID-19 virus is going to be the next day, our Earth becomes more and more our treasured friend, and hope is our handshake of peace…
Interstellar gives me hope – hope for our communities, our planet, and our faith. This is a groundbreaker worth seeing again, especially today.