Interstellar. A Non-Scientific Review.
[WARNING: OBVIOUSLY there would be spoilers]
Much has been written about Interstellar, especially the physics and other ‘science’ bits. I wouldn’t go that way again. Besides, what does an advertising guy know about astrophysics?
Overall, with this movie I think Nolan has redeemed himself from that horrendous ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (my review here. Oh, do read the comments section – you’d think JKT48 got rabid fans? They are nothing compared to Nolanians!). Interstellar was still not at the level of ‘The Dark Knight’, but at least it got my attention, and a moving story.
And a good movie, to me, is when it got me thinking over bigger themes. It does not matter whether it is an animated feature like Wreck-It-Ralph or high budget production like Interstellar, a good story not only entertains, but gently offers you themes to discuss. So these are the (non-scientific) themes I picked up in the movie:
- Mankind fragility. I think majority of people still live under the delusion that we are master of this planet. We are not. We are actually a single annoying species that kills other species and wreck Earth’s beauty. The planet does NOT need us, and it is indifferent about us. So far we got LUCKY, there has been no massive plaque or giant asteroid crashing down on us. But as Interstellar shows, the scenario is out there, and in this case, food shortage due to crop-killing blight.
- Human survival instinct. As fragile as we are, we also possess innate ‘will to live’. To survive is written in the deepest crevice of our soul. Whether as individual or as collective species, the threat of extermination can compel us to do the unthinkable courage. It was Cooper’s survival drive (and the desire to his children survive) that emboldened him to join the mission.
- The dark side of survival instinct. The dark side of our determination to live? Our equally willingness to achieve it at the expense of other humans’ lives. This is represented by Matt Damon’s. His will to live makes him able to murder others. But he is just one face of billions of humans who will murder to stay alive. Throughout history, we see wars and conflicts that cost so many lives because the others wanted “to stay alive”.
- Love as one of the greatest forces in Universe. Physicists currently recognize 4 “fundamental forces” in nature, i.e. strong nuclear, weak nuclear, gravitational, and electromagnetic. In a scene where desperate Anna Hathaway tried to convince the crew to choose the planet where her love had gone before, she talked about love so powerful it transcends time and space (“Why do we still love people who already passed away? It does not make sense”). Cooper dismissed her argument for letting emotion interfere with her rational judgement. But ironically, later we saw that it was exactly the unbreakable father-daughter love that saved the day. And humanity.
I have to admit that the ending when Cooper the father meets Cooper the daughter got my eyes teary. Especially when Cooper Jr. said “You were always my ghost” to her father. This is a unique twist where “ghosts” (which represent irrationality and a concept not recognized in science) got “explained” to be nothing more than communication attempt across time and space.
Interstellar may be classified as a sci-fi movie. But beyond all the mind-boggling science theories and special effects lies the classic tale of humanity. Of our darkest side. Of our brightest hope. And of our strongest capacity to love.