So I’ve been trying to put my feelings about Interstellar into words (without too many spoilers) and I realized that that is the most amazing part of Interstellar. Let me explain.
For those of you who know me, you know I am rather obsessed with Stanley Kubrick’s films, all of them, but especially 2001: a space odyssey. I am also a big fan of Terrance Malick’s Tree of Life, despite the objections of my family and friends. Darren Aronofsky is also one of my favorites (except for Noah, which Charles perfectly summed up) and I feel The Fountain to be one of his best. I mention all of this because I believe that Christopher Nolan has mostly achieved what these great film makers were going for in their films, but to achieve it he had to fail where they succeeded.
Interstellar is huge, not only is it projected on 70mm IMAX, but the story spans lifetimes. Characters travel light years, and experience things that no human has ever experienced, yet. But in the end what makes this film work is how small it is. It’s not about man’s place in the universe, or the next step in our evolution, it’s about a father trying to save his daughter. He may have to travel through a worm hole to the other side of the galaxy to do it, but it’s all for her. This is the strongest point of the movie and also the thing that seems out of place. In the other movies I mentioned before it was as though the filmmakers knew that once you started looking at humans in the context of the enormous universe we seem pretty insignificant. This allows them to tell stories that stretch way beyond the lifespan of any one person, and ultimately to really examine what our place in the universe is. Nolan forgoes all this. He would rather examine a father daughter relationship, and kudos to him for doing it. He keeps the audience hooked by that emotion, when the other directors lose their audience.
The brilliance of a film like 2001 is that the story isn’t about a man, but is the story of Man. Same with Tree of Life, it isn’t just about little boys in Texas, its about the Nature of Man. But Nolan makes us think, AND he makes us feel. Does this make it better than the others? In some ways yes, in others no. I don’t think he was trying to say the same things that Kubrick, Malick or Aronofsky were. He was examining the love between a father and a daughter, who happen to be on other sides of the galaxy.
So in the end my feelings about Interstellar are exactly what makes it superior to other space epics, it made me feel.
PS: I will readily acknowledge there are huge, complex plot holes in the movie. But for Christopher Nolan it’s all about that relationship, so a couple missing pieces are Ok. I tend to agree with him, just don’t dig too deep into the astrophysics.