I didn’t plan on seeing Interstellar and figured it would be too similar to Gravity. Sitting through one pace odyssey within the last year was enough; however, when I read an article in Film Comment that broke the film down into three acts, I realized it was much more complicated and interesting than a scientist who travels to space while the expected order of events unravels. After seeing the film, I appreciated many of Christopher Nolan’s intricate thoughts as well insight into a future that is not convoluted with unrealistic ideas or animated imagery.
Many science fiction films are redundant with the CGI robots or zombies that wander through the planet during apocalypse, but Interstellar’s scenes on Earth show beautiful land with dry weather and dust-infested homes. It’s something we can truly see happening—especially one of the film’s first conflicts involving humans not having enough farmers, hence not having enough food. There is that typical eerie feeling, but brought on by low-key lighting in the homes and grayness of the outdoors. Again, it is a feeling viewers can imagine because we see it often. And like these moments on Earth, the lack of CGI used during the spaceship/space scenes make the odyssey more realistic. Some moments are dramatic and intense, but don’t blow us away with images and effects that are unrecognizable. More specifically, there is a scene during the second half of the film when part of the Endurance crew reaches a planet that is a potential alternate home for humans and while the camera zooms out and shows this vast landscape with hills and solid ground, there is an essence of planet Earth. The pictures of Earth and the planet do not match perfectly, but there is a subtle beauty and solitude in both. The planet makes us see space as something we had never imagined possible: a common, familiar place. The similarity between the two gives this certain hope from God’s green planet to a new land He created that’s worth investigating.
On the contrary, the relationship between Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain) is centered around time and juxtaposed with the vivid landscape scenes the relationship is ghost-like, intangible, much like the visitor Murph talks about the in the beginning. Murph isn’t the only one who’s haunted by this ghost, however. The strange childhood visitors lingered in my mind the entire time—knowing it was all going to wrap up—the conclusion involving the essence of time. Nolan does a pretty neat pairing with the simplicity of props, lighting, and editing to get the effects without animation, alongside complicated concepts about wormholes, repopulating, and relocation. However, Nolan strings many concepts throughout that convolutes the story. For example, when Cooper floats in the wormhole and peers through time, or his daughter’s bookshelf, it is an emotional moment and also what I thought was the ending. But the film keeps going, as do these ideas that build off one another and evolves into an entire different film for an entire different day.
A good film doesn’t always need to have a conventional ending and I felt Nolan thought along those lines when the final scene ends with Cooper encouraged to start another journey, but the ending sequence flips and flops, tying up loose ends, but unknotting others. It is complicated like the rest of the film, but the beautiful simplicity from the first few acts quickly vanishes.