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Self-Fulfilling Prophecies on a Cosmic Level
Written on 11/10/2014, film first viewed by author on 11/07/2014
Energy is the name of that thing that we first learned about back in middle school physics class. The laws of physics state that energy can be transferred and conserved, but never created or destroyed. In a world where everything seems so fragile and temporary, where wars of weapons and ideas destroy human life and morality, this whole concept of energy is an enlightening notion. Of all things, it is science that shows us that there is a "force", for lack of another term, that has always existed and that will always exist. Even more special, this force is passed along, from one thing to another and for all time, the grandest inheritance occurring in the natural world.
In what is to be inevitably the next Christopher Nolan blockbuster, energy finds its way flowing through space and people in ways that science has a hard time still understanding. Interstellar is not so much a movie strictly about energy as it is more about climate change, space exploration, and the possible practicality of a black hole.
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is an ex-astronaut turned farmer on Earth in the near-distant future. The planet is dying, ravaged by climate change. It is getting harder for organisms, including humans, to survive and thrive. Erratic weather is common, and the seasons no longer accommodate traditional crops. Within the next generation's lifetime, nothing will grow any longer, and humans will starve and suffocate. On a more political note, space exploration has been practically outlawed, even so much so that children are being taught in public schools that the Apollo 11 moon landing was a mere story of U.S. propaganda made to make the Soviets use up their resources. It is a subject that gets Cooper's daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) kicked out of school because of her protest. The mentality of most humans is that all concern should be focused on trying to "save" an already doomed planet instead of traveling to others. Through a series of bizarre events concerning a "ghost", Morse codes in dust, and a "secret" organization, Cooper is convinced by Prof. Brand (Michael Caine) and his astronaut daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), to pilot a manned mission through space and a black hole. In theory, this should create a shortcut to another galaxy with possibly hospitable planets. The whole operation shifts away from a futile effort to save planet Earth for the human species, and instead will attempt to create a lifeboat for it. It is a risky plan, and it is known that other astronauts have never returned. As Cooper, Amelia, and their teammates leave Earth and travel far into space and beyond, everything they know about time and reality will drastically change. Back on Earth, a couple decades pass and adult Murphy (Jessica Chastain), adopted into Prof. Brand's program, grows desperate as she tries to save her family and understand "it all".
Official motion picture soundtrack of "Interstellar" available through Amazon
Whew! A lot to digest, this author admits. Truly an epic adventure that tries to rival 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A seasoned cinephile will find it hard to ignore the suggesting and simplified outreach of a possible alien race, robots that look like walking monoliths, ballet-like choreography of spaceships, and a Hans Zimmer score almost blatantly ripping cues straight from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Koyaanisqatsi. That is not to say that this author didn't like Interstellar as a whole. The film community should rejoice (and it seems to so far) that a film like this was accomplished. It opens a door for the next generation of filmmakers and moviegoers to get reconnected to "our forefathers" that inspired Nolan and his crew. This is the passing of one film's energy to the next.
The eco-friendly message is pretty obvious, and the first act is the Nolan Brothers' way of trying to tell the powers that be that something must be done to preserve the ever-changing Earth as best we can. Otherwise, humans will lose their oasis in the middle of the cold vacuum. To expand upon this, the other message laid throughout the film is that humans make their own future. In Interstellar (and arguably throughout history), there is no higher power that is going to make up the minds of humans, or save them, or take them down a path of some kind of new "Manifest Destiny". Humans do what humans want to do, even if they say they believe it's for something else. With Cooper's character, there is a mind-blowing discovery that he is the one who can help himself and his species, a human helping humans. No gods, no little green men.
As the human will is an energy that passes down through the generations to continue our survival, it is also the energy of human love that keeps us going. We push through the darkness, so that we might see the ones we love again. As can be seen in an altercation between Cooper and Amelia (and later on with the mysterious Dr. Mann), love is probably the strongest kind of "energy", for it can kill as easily as it can nurture. Cooper wants to return to Murph, but what will that sacrifice? With every action there is a reaction, and things remain while things are lost. Like the myth of a phoenix, something new arises from the ashes, and inherits the energy.