Right off the top, Interstellar is no small statement, either in time or what it attempts to say.  It runs a full 169 minutes, not quite three hours, and while it might have been able to give its testimony in an edited form, I seriously doubt it would be the same film or have the same impact.

On the surface, it is what you’ve seen in the previews and trailers.  Our Earth is exhausted, fatally damaged by human mistakes and natural disaster.  A physicist played by Michael Caine asserts that while humankind was born on this planet, it was not meant to die on it.  The recent discovery of a wormhole in the proximity of Saturn and subsequent exploration reveals the possibility of new, habitable planets in an equally new galaxy, plus nascent technology which would allow a mass emigration to those new worlds.  Yet to say that was the sum of the movie would be like saying that All the President’s Men was the story of a break-in at the Watergate.

Interstellar is first and foremost about the human condition, at its best and its worst, under the most ordinary conditions and under those where the word “extraordinary” strains to qualify as an adequate adjective.  It’s about the implications of traveling through the stars, particularly as regards the considerable impact of relativistic time and separation on those who leave and those who stay behind.  Certainly it wants to convey the psychological consequences of all of the above and the characters’ attempts to deal with and ameliorate that fallout.  Perhaps most of all, it is about optimism, the clear optimism Christopher Nolan has about the human race and what he thinks is possible under the extreme conditions his opus is set in, even if in some places that positivity flies in the face of the laws of physics.

As you might expect, the film is visually stunning.  The cinematography is excellent; its special effects work seamlessly where you would expect them to, and in at least one instance, they create a “world” so far removed from our experience that only imagination could provide a map to it.  Accompanying the visuals is an amazing soundtrack by Hans Zimmer which is nothing like any of his previous work, nor of any other film in recent memory.  Audio effects are occasionally almost painfully loud, in at least one instance shocking in their realism, and generally do a brilliant job in aiding with conveying the reality of a story which, for the time being, remains fiction.

Mr. Nolan could truly be said to be reaching for the stars with Interstellar in multiple senses.  Whether he was successful or not with his audience will be determined with the reaction of the individuals who view it, as is the case with any movie.

As for me?  I want to see it again.

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Comment by Loren Miller on November 15, 2014 at 12:43pm

GC, my only comment on the whole issue of the false dichotomy presented in Interstellar is that the "blight" was a newcomer to the agricultural scene, as I understand it, sufficiently ubiquitous and fast-moving to obviate any easy solution.

Certainly, the movie has flaws in its POV, but then if all variables and points of view were considered before shooting started, shooting never WOULD have started, because everyone would have become lost in the analysis.  I guess I'm just willing to take Interstellar at face value and enjoy it for the story it tells.

Comment by Grinning Cat on November 15, 2014 at 12:33pm

Interstellar: Good Space Film, Bad Climate-Change Parable (Noah Gittell, The Atlantic)

... as a climate-change parable, [Interstellar] fails.... Nolan has set up a false choice: In the world of Interstellar, mankind can either leave the planet behind, or it can stay here and die. The choices that humans—here in the real world—actually have to make ... are much more complicated, and are nowhere to be found onscreen.

The heroes in Interstellar do not ... learn anything of value.... And so it stands to reason that whatever planet the humans in Interstellar end up colonizing, they will destroy it just as surely as a virus destroys its host.... Nolan fails to look inward and uncover the flaws and solutions in humanity; instead, he prefers to gaze up at the stars and fantasize.

...a small tweak could made Interstellar’s message much more relevant to the present day.... When the teacher explains that children need to be taught not to sink precious funding into fantasies like space travel, Cooper replies that the Apollo missions created technology that led to the MRI machine, showing how investments in space travel can lead to unintended benefits on Earth. It’s a great point. Cooper’s subsequent mission does lead to discoveries... that save humanity by allowing it to leave Earth. It would have been more compelling, though... to have those discoveries be ones that allow humanity to stay on Earth.

...Why does Hollywood keep getting the environment wrong? Maybe ... because the ways that climate change and other environmental crises can be addressed are not dramatic or awe-inspiring. The dangers of doing nothing are horrifyingly cinematic, but the solutions are prosaic and dull. But it would be nice to see a filmmaker try to make them entertaining.

(Emphases and heavy snipping mine. Read the whole review.)

Comment by Loren Miller on November 15, 2014 at 8:53am

That's the idea, Daniel.  I think it would be very much worth your time.  Interstellar is one serious piece of work, and I suspect that people will be talking about it for a while.

Comment by Daniel W on November 15, 2014 at 8:37am

Loren, you make me want to see the movie.

Comment by Luara on November 15, 2014 at 7:02am

I wouldn't go to a theater to see a movie because it would be highly risk for an allergic reaction.  I would be very likely to pay a penalty of being sick for a couple of days if I went to a theater - either because of encountering a dog while going back and forth to the theater, a service dog in the theater, or dog dander on people's clothes in the theater.

So it might be a really good movie, but right now I'm only watching movies online. 

There are lots of good movies online, actually. 

Comment by Luara on November 15, 2014 at 6:53am

No, I haven't seen the movie and won't any time soon.  I was commenting on interstellar travel, not the movie. 

Comment by Loren Miller on November 15, 2014 at 6:28am

Have you actually SEEN the movie, Luara?  The issue of time is dealt with, I would say painfully so, as is the DNA issue, but that's the most I want to say here.

This movie is too good to muck up with spoilers.

Comment by Luara on November 15, 2014 at 4:59am

A technology to transport people at light speed or below, taking however may years it takes, is probably a MUCH more accessible way to travel cosmic distances than exotic physics like wormholes.

Don't try to do it on a human timescale, in other words - rather, change the human experience of time so the trip is tolerable.

for example, carry the raw materials for creating people on board, and DNA sequences for people, say - then when the spaceship arrives, computers make people and the environment for them, and pass on human knowledge to them. 

Comment by Loren Miller on November 10, 2014 at 1:06pm

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, Michael.  You, too, Ruth.  I found it rather a singular piece of work, and as I said, I want a repeat showing in a theater!

Comment by Michael Penn on November 10, 2014 at 12:13pm

I'll have to take some time and see this movie. I've just recently tied in with Nasa/ESA and all the images that Hubble has brought us along with what we have learned from that.

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