‘Interstellar’ (2014)

Interstellar 2014

Director: Chirstopher Nolan, Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Micheal Caine.

A Flawed Masterpeice, Giving Us The Moon While Reaching For the Stars

A few years ago I came across one of the best small budget television documentaries I have ever seen, called ‘Evacuate Earth’. Produced by National Geographic, ‘Evacuate Earth’ is a 1 an a half hour documentary which in an initially over-the-top drama way asks is it possible to evacuate earth and then with astounding detail and method goes through all the necessary components to successfully evacuate earth. Apart from some the corny re-enactment scenes, it remains the most fascinating science fiction documentary I have seen, a perfect marriage between imagination and science. After watching it for the first time, I remember thinking, if I were a director I would make a movie of ‘Evacuate Earth’. (you can watch the documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpNO_HngUcI)

Whilst watching Christopher Nolan’s latest film ‘Interstellar’ I felt as though I was watching the movie version of the concept of ‘Evacuate Earth’. Although ‘Interstellar’ is in some ways more believable than ‘Evacuate Earth’, earth running out of food rather than a supernova coming to get us, and in other ways less believable, the solution of a worm-hole, it is not more understandable, which becomes problem number 1 in brining such a complex scientific concept to a movie-going-audience. The scenes which involve explanation of the complex science become some of the most cumbersome and flawed of the entire film. Lacking the freedom of a documentary, Nolan tries both to accurately explain the complicated science in a way that is understandable to the layman and short enough for a Hollywood film. In this regard the film fails on both counts becoming at times incomprehensible and boring. Nolan would have had a much easier time making a documentary rather than a feature film on the subject.

A feature film also needs an emotional connection to take the audience through. This is provided in the central arc relationship between Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain). The concepts of the film are dark and its execution is cold. In ‘Inception’ the love between Leonardo’s Dom and Marion Cotillard’s Mal is so believable and heart-felt that no matter how deep the story goes, as an audience our emotions are deeply tied up with their romance and we follow wherever Nolan may lead us. This is not the case in ‘Interstellar’ with scenes of intended emotional pull failing to truly pull you into the father daughter relationship. This leads the film to have a confused meandering middle section, saved in part by a better final act.

‘Interstellar’ is the latest victim of well intention movie over-reach. Simplicity is the refugee of the complex mind! Remember film is powerful simplicity. If you want to make a film about the Holocaust make a film about 1 man’s list, if you want to make a bio-pic about the Queen focus on 1 significant event in her life, if you want to make a great sci-fi take 1 concept and explore it in depth. Too many films these days try to cover too much in too short a period and end up covering less than if they had focused on 1 simple aspect with great detail and depth. You can say more with a well shot scene about something as simple as a door, than a 300 million 3 movie franchise.

‘Interstellar’s greatest strength, its sheer awe inspiring ambition becomes its greatest weakness. Nolan has always been the master of intellectual complex narration as seen in his great films ‘Memento’ and ‘Inception’. However the intellectual reach of the film undoubtedly comparable to one of the greatest films of all time Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ exceeds the capacity of the film. Where Kubrick’s film surpasses Nolan’s is its ability to not need excessive scientific documentary-like explanation and yet create its own majesty artistic mystery. Yet the sheer scale of ‘interstellar”s concepts and its shatteringly gorgeous visuals recover what the film lacks in composition and emotional pull. It aimed so high and comes so close to being a masterpiece which makes the final result both brilliant and disappointing.

A- 8/10

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