Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Interstellar – To Infinity and Beyond

An aching sadness permeates every frame of ‘Interstellar’.

And this pain lingers on . . . even during the scientific ramblings of space-suited explorers.

Yet, in that pain lies a seed; a seed of hope. And the sheer beauty of seeing that seed burst with life is overwhelming.

When those moments arrive, a magic surges through your body; tingling your fingers and bristling your neck.

This, my friends, is pure cinema. And, it’s something Christopher Nolan delivers in spades during Interstellar; his ‘humanist love song to the planet’*.


Supported brilliantly by Hans Zimmer’s soaring score, Nolan comes as close as anyone has to perfecting this medium. He’s long been a champion of the importance of visuals in cinema. This may sound dumb, but think of how many filmmakers are forced to use endless dialogue to get their point across. Nolan just needs an image (and the talents of the world’s leading film composer). At a number of points during the movie, I longed for the powers of fourth-dimensional manipulation to pause time and let these images wash over me forever. If anything, that was my biggest disappointment with the film; it had to move forwards . . . as we all do.

To desperately want to live these snapshots forever, yet to feel them drift from your grasp and disappear into the endless reaches of space; it’s audience manipulation as an art form, and it’s brilliant.

The science does have a tendency to choke the emotional core and dirty the wonder with logic. But, the universal truths still ring true. Nolan glides between the small and the large-scale effortlessly; from vast great canvases of ideas to supreme moments of intimacy.

Is it a surprise to know that ‘Interstellar’ isn’t about space?

Well, no more than ‘Inception’ is about corporate crime . . . so not at all, then.

Nolan admires the beauty of space; but he revels in the beauty of humankind. Unlike Alfonso Cuaron’s wandering, and wondering, eye in ‘Gravity’, Nolan keeps his focus squarely on character and emotion. Despite being light-years away from Earth, Nolan keeps his camera close-by. He remains supremely restrained when there must have been the underlying urge to send his camera soaring off into the cosmos. Instead, (the brilliant) Matthew McConaughey’s stupid helmet is left blocking us from the possibility of exploring the intricacies of the spaceship or the breath-taking views out the window. But, the humanity we’re given in return is far more worthy of exploration . . .

★★★★




*a terrific summary courtesy of Simon Mayo