Murphy’s Law doesn’t mean that something bad will happen. It means that whatever can happen, will happen… Have you ever wondered what “interstellar” means? Literally it means “situated or occurring between the stars”. And thought the plot of Nolan’s Interstellar focuses mainly on human’s way out of dying Earth, there is so much more to it.
I will always remember the first time I watched this film on big screen, few days after its premiere. I was frustrated with Matthew McConaughey’s character! How could he just left his children like that? With their mum gone, only grandpa could take care of them. He had this unfulfilled dream of becoming successful astronaut, and given the chance again (thanks to his daughter’s discovery), he took it. Fortunately for him, it wasn’t just like that – he was considering pros and cons.
Now that I watched the movie again, I decided to put aside my initial feelings and all emotions that hit me that day, and take it slow. After all, Cooper realized that Earth’s life expectancy is slowly ending. There is not much for his kids left and… As every father would (or at least should), he actioned. After all, he will do whatever it takes to save his children.
Whatever it takes… The thing with Nolan movies is, that they are way too real – the world presented in Interstellar is terrifying. Vision of 2067 where crop blights and dust storms threaten humanity’s survival, and corn is the last viable crop, sacred me to the bones. And well, funny thing is, this was never meant to be a catastrophically movie. Dystopian visions aside, for me it will forever be scientific-psychological fiction drama.
There is only 7-year age difference between Jessica Chastain and Matthew McConaughey in the real world. The theory of relativity finds them as a disconnected father and daughter. Initial version of the script envisioned Murphy as boy, but changing the sex made the relationship and dilemma so much more complex. In one of the interviews, Chastain said: “We’ve seen many Hollywood stories about a son becoming a man with his father’s help. That’s almost every journey in cinema. It’s rare we see the dynamic between a father and a daughter. (…) If you’re supposed to be protected and you’re left behind, what kind of relationship does that create?”.
Like I mentioned, this family aspect broke my heart at firs. I couldn’t understand, why going back to space was SO DAMN important for Cooper. Because it seemed, like he simply wanted to go back to being astronaut. But I was in a weird place with Matthew McConaughey back there, so maybe that crocked my vision. I’ve read an interview with him, when he said: “If you’re a parent or even if you just have a parent, everyone has these moments, from lesser to extreme levels. It happens all the time, whether you’re dropping your kids off at school or going on a vacation. This is the most extreme nature of that. This is a father going off for a long time. There’s no guaranteed return ticket.”
This made me reflect on relationship with my dad, and how different it is from my brother’s bond. As a little girl, I considered my dad a superhero. Don’t get me wrong – he still is a hero for me 😉. But in a more down-to-Earth way. Generally, father-daughter relationships are very special – subconsciously, girls are looking for a man similar to their dads. It doesn’t matter if dad is in the picture or not, if he is a good father or a shitty one; this is how we are build. Fortunately, I am blessed with a great Padre.
Sure, we have our ups and downs but now that I’m a grownup, I am trying my best to avoid the downs, at all costs. My father has a very particular line of work – he is a captain of cargo ships, inland navigations. When he started (in Germany), many years ago, he was gone for 40 days and came home for a week. He studied a lot to become captain and with time, he started working regular shifts: two weeks in and two out. That means that in ideal conditions, I see him for 6 months. But there are no ideal conditions, because often he must cover someone else’s shift so our time together is cut short.
So, I am doing everything I can to cherish time that we have, when he is home. And things will get even more complicated, when in 2021 I will move out, but… Have you ever wondered about meaning of this saying “make time?” Can we, humans, literally make time? No, that’s not an option. But we still say it. For me, it means that I will do everything to FIND time to hang out with my dad, or anyone else for that matter.
My father taught me a lot of things – that reading is fun and so much better than playing on computer, that cooking takes time but it’s great if you can share it with others, that you have to work hard in life to get things that you want. He took me to my first speedway match and I fell in love with that sport! Sometimes he pisses me off with his comments or misunderstanding of contemporary lifestyle, but that will never change the fact that I love him to all the moons in the Galaxy and back.
Maybe that’s why I struggled with Interstellar. My brain could not understand why a father would leave his children for… Ever.
From a young age, Murph Cooper was special. Her extraordinary detective / researcher skills are so distinctive! It’s an instant guarantee, that she will become a great scientist one day. Even though her brother didn’t take her seriously, he wasn’t the one she tried to impress. Murph wanted to be like his father. And actually, she became someone better! After all, she cracked the “gravity riddle” in a way.
But her analytic mind could not process nor understand reason why her father would leave her, on Earth. She anticipated, maybe without being fully conscious, that he will miss out her entire life. Murph was angry, but she directed that into science. Anger transformed and became powerful drive to get her father back. He promised to come back but she knew, that he will need all the help he could get.
But Interstellar is not only about unbreakable father-daughter love. It’s about all kinds of love: family, science, passion, romance… Character played by Anne Hathaway , doctor Amelia Brand was willing to jeopardize the entire mission to see the man she loved. Her father – played by Michael Caine – professor Brand dedicated his life to a lie, but the did it out of love he had for the idea, fantasy that he could save the mankind. Mann (Matt Damon) loved his life so much, he has committed an unspeakable act to save it. And everything still circulated around the love for science.
Let’s talk a little bit about the science here. Disclaimer: I am no scientist, so I needed some help – following part is based on The Time article by Jeffery Kluger about what Interstellar got wrong and right about science, wired.com article by Adam Rogers “Wrinkles in Spacetime: The wrapped astrophysics of Interstellar and space.com article by Karl Tate with science of Interstellar explained:
You all remember first black hole picture taken in 2019, right? This was huge achievement. For me, space and science are so interesting! And I will try to wrap my head around it thanks to Radek, who gave me Kip Thorne’s book “Science of Interstellar”. Kip is theoretical physicist known for his contributions in gravitational physics and astrophysics. He served as scientific consultant and an executive producer for the movie. In this book he explains the scientific concepts behind the film’s cosmological ideas – and I will read it over my summer vacations! 😉
But on the subject of scientific accuracy in Interstellar, Thorne said that he “worked on the equations that would enable tracing of light rays as they traveled through a wormhole or around a black hole – so what you see is based on Einstein’s general relativity equations”. Process of creating black hole image was extremely complex: Kip worked with a team of 30 people at Double Negative; he handed over research with profoundly sourced theoretical equations to the engineers, who then wrote CGI rendering software based on the study. All that effort was put to create accurate simulations of the gravitational lensing caused by these phenomena. Some individual frames took up to 100 hours to render, totaling 800 terabytes of data!
Time is the antagonist in Interstellar – I’ve mentioned it in my Nolan case study while back. And it all goes with accordance of Einstein’s equations: time passes slower in higher gravity fields. So, on a planet orbiting close to a black hole, a clock ticks much slower than on a spaceship orbiting farther away. When Copper, Brand and Doyle are inspecting doctor Miller’s planet (an ocean world), when they go back to the Endurance, for doctor Romily, who stayed behind and was supposed to hibernate for most of the time, 23 years have elapsed.
And the only condition through this entire mission Cooper had, was to watch time. He promised his daughter he will come back. But maybe they will be the same age… This part of the promise was lost, when he received a video from Murphy. This is a moment to appreciate McConaughey’s superb acting. The emotions! The struggle, longing for his family… Trying to save their future.
Now, a lot of people loathe the ending, but let me say this: I still don’t understand what happened there. After falling into the black hole, Cooper continues to record what he’s seeing and transmits it back to TARS, he robot. He hopes, that the additional information might be helpful the scientists back home. Although he is at peace with death and being eventually get crushed by Gargantua’s gravity, he is miraculously spared once his shuttle is ripped apart.
And that’s when things get INSANE: Cooper gets transported to an infinite, interdimensional library that allows him to look back into different moments in Murph’s childhood bedroom. At first, it seems like “end-life flashback” for Cooper, but TARS helps him understand, that mysterious “they” have composed this 3-dimensional reality for Cooper, letting him to access all five dimensions in a way he can understand.
Cooper is “equipped” to physically influence different points in space-time by using gravity to move things – like books on the shelves. Cooper deduces that he’s been brought here to send a message back through time, using gravity, and that Murph has to be the one to receive it and… Save humanity.
It’s a lot to process, and I strongly recommend watching this movie at least twice – once for the plot and second time for understanding of science. In the end, the audience realizes that “they” are the humans of the future, who created this wormhole to ensure survival of mankind. Now, this is a bit twisted, right? How is this possible, if humans of the future cannot exist without humans of the past, surviving?
I did some digging, and there is a theory called “bootstrap paradox” – it is a paradox of time travel that appear when an object (or piece of information) sent back in time becomes trapped within an infinite cause-effect loop in which the item no longer has a discernible point of origin, and is said to be “uncaused” or “self-created” (via astronomytrek.com). At first sight it seems impossible but… There could be an explanation: One possibility is that in the „original” timeline, humanity died out on Earth, but doctor Brand’s “Plan B” colony on planet she was thrown out, survived and developed the ability to travel through time and change the past, creating a new timeline.
Now, this was some heavy science right there. Let’s put that aside and circle back to my “better” point of view on this movie: love. Father-daughter relationship. The ending scene was absolutely heartbreaking for me. The way Matthew McConaughey closed his eyes for a second… Entire DCF heard me sobbing.
It really is tragic – Cooper was willing to do whatever it takes to save his children, to provide a way out for them, way out of dying Earth. And he did – he went the extra mile IN SPACE, only to find out that he is not the one who will save Murph’s future. Yet, his mission was necessary for her to succeed. An infinite loop of cause and effect. A paradox.
One last thing – this epic picture combined with extraordinary music from Hans Zimmer will take you on board of Endurance, as a silent observer. The saddest thing is, that when you want to scream on top of your lungs: S.T.A.Y., no one will hear…
Goddamn you, Nolan brothers.
We watched the planes leave us behind…
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