Last night I re-watched Interstellar. I was just in the mood. (Its great, isn’t it, those times when your mood just gets linked to watching a particular film, as if that’s the only film that will really do at that particular moment. Somehow, if everything is just right, it all clicks and its a great few hours, but really its a mystery why certain films equal certain moods at certain moments. If you could quantify that, reason it out, you’d likely enjoy more movies by watching them at just the right time).
So anyway, Interstellar. Yeah, I really quite enjoyed it. Its as daft as it ever was, as exciting and interesting and frankly as infuriating as it ever was. Distanced from all the hype and madness that surrounded it when it first came out, its easier to appreciate what it got right, as well as forgive (or put up with) what it got wrong.
One observation in the films defence. Watching it this time, its clear to me that it wasn’t really about finding another world to live on. The NASA scientists saw a wormhole appear and reasoned that it was an escape route gifted them from aliens. But it wasn’t. It was really a route to Gargantua, the black hole and its Event Horizon and its revelations about gravity that would, once the data is sent back home, propel humanity from extinction, in just the same way as the Monolith teaching the man-ape to use the bone as a killing tool moved humanity forwards in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The NASA guys sending astronauts to those 11 or 12 planets was them missing the point entirely. Those worlds were never fit for human habitation/global exodus. I mean, so close to a Black Hole? It just seemed stupid to me back when the film came out and it clearly still is, but I rather think the film knows that too. It just gets itself in a funk trying to reason it out when its really just a method for getting drama (gigantic tides! Matt Damon suffering from Space Madness!) into it.
But really, the central premise of the film. How on Earth would you move a global population to a New World? At least in When Worlds Collide they had the honesty to depict an ark in which a relative few could escape Armageddon and take flight to a new world. Interstellar seems to make it its business to save everybody. To paraphrase Clint, Every Movie Should Know Its Limitations.
The film does take more than its fair share of liberties though. Just how many spaceships have they built in orbit and sent out through the Wormhole to investigate those possible New Worlds? How did they do all that in secret? How much would that all cost? How would you resource it in an (apparently) collapsed economy on the verge of mass starvation? And just a bunch of Americans at that? At the very least you’d think it would be a global exercise- indeed on the evidence of current capacity for spaceflight you’d expect it be built by the Chinese leaving the Americans behind entirely.Good luck embarking on a New World without the good old USA, eh? I know, I know, I know- Its Only A Movie, as John Brosnan would say.
(There’s a rather sad thought- I wonder what John Brosnan would have thought of something like Interstellar? Its a sobering reminder that there will be great films made long after I myself am gone, that I will never see. There ain’t no justice).
So back to those NASA guys thinking they have to find an inhabitable planet in that star system across the Wormhole (and the films misdirection of that). Its rather clever in a way, if its really intentional. A slight of hand worthy of Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. The guy travels to another galaxy and winds up in his bookcase back home. It really is that preposterous. But its all intended to be that way, its that exploring of other worlds on the way that is misguided. But I guess that’s how you fabricate a dramatic/exciting space movie if your name isn’t Stanley Kubrick. Imagine if Interstellar had been as dry and direct and logical as 2001: A Space Odyssey, literally just dealing with going through the Wormhole and doing serious science with Gargantua, and getting that data back to Earth via a Bookcase. Talk about the Ultimate Trip.