Interstellar chronicles the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.
Humans have always been fascinated with outer space and specially the mechanics of the space-time continuum. After the success of movies with such themes such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gravity, Christopher Nolan's epic sci-fi film Interstellar was released amongst much anticipation in 2014. From fans who watched it over and over, trying to somehow escape to the breathtaking space scenes, to critics who felt like it was flawed in very basic ways, Interstellar is one movie that will definitely leave a mark on the viewer. If you want a healthy mix of warm emotions and cold science, this is the right movie for you. And yes, you heard it right. This is coming from none other than the brilliant Christopher Nolan.
Interstellar premiered in Los Angeles on October 26, 2014 after a lot of hype and waiting. The fact that Nolan's name was attached to this movie meant that audiences were waiting with bated breaths to see what he would create with a subject so intense and intricate. It is an almost three-hour-long space saga which not only explores concepts such as The Theory of Relativity but also takes us on an emotional ride. Who could have thought those two themes could be gelled into one movie? Well, Nolan of course.
Interstellar depicts a time in the near future. Earth is suffering from extreme temperatures, difficulties in farming and growing food, severe drought, and famine. There are strange dust storms, the only thing that can be grown is corn and humanity is pretty much doomed with rare chances of survival. Amidst all the depression, chaos and hopelessness, Cooper, an ex NASA pilot discovers the co-ordinates to a NASA facility near his house. This was almost by chance as his daughter Murphy believed that there was a 'ghost' causing the patterns to appear in the dust. These coordinates were communicated using gravity to get Cooper to visit the facility and tackle a very important task.
Once he visits the facility, Cooper's old professor Dr. Brand reveals knowledge about a wormhole which opened up near Saturn almost 48 years ago and could be a gateway to a new, distant galaxy offering humanity a variety of potentially habitable planets to settle on. Cooper is now faced with a daring task. Just like twelve volunteers before, Cooper is asked to go through the wormhole and evaluate planets. He eventually agrees to pilot the spaceship called Endurance and takes part in the mission alongside scientists Romilly, Doyle, Amelia, and two robots called TARS and CASE. His decision upsets Murphy as there is a chance he may never return.
Dr. Brand discusses a Plan A and a Plan B. The only chance for human survival while Plan A is being figured out is an interstellar travel for Cooper to go and look for newer horizons for humans.
From the time Cooper travels through Gargantua the black hole in Endurance, Interstellar begins exploring various space-time concepts such as the severely dilated time on Miller's planet, the concept of gravity, and the workings of black holes and wormholes. From action-packed, breathless escapes to emotionally charged scenes, Interstellar explores how Cooper and Amelia keep themselves alive, fighting distraught explorers on harsh planets, unsettling situations, and the major issue- time. Cooper also tries to figure out the reality behind five-dimensional beings that might have created the wormhole so that could communicate with Murphy, who is much older now.
Interstellar is a must-watch movie for reasons other than an emotional story with a cool setting. It has a star-studded cast which attracts viewers instantly. Christopher Nolan is known for stringing together impressive casts for his movies and Interstellar is no exception to this norm.
Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway aren't new to Nolan films and have appeared in the Dark Knight movies. In Interstellar, they play the roles of Dr. Brand and Dr. Amelia Brand respectively. Anne Hathaway was invited to Nolan's home to read the script for Interstellar.
The role of Cooper is played by Matthew McConaughey whom Nolan chose after seeing him in an early cut of the movie Mud 2012. Nolan wanted an actor who could bring the character of Cooper to life and whom the audience could identify with and McConaughey was just the guy! While McConaughey was filming for his TV series True Detective, he was invited to Nolan's home and offered the part.
By April 2013, Paramount had announced the names of these actors in lead roles.
Murphy Cooper is played by Jessica Chastain who was contacted when she was filming Miss Julie in Northern Ireland and was sent a script to read. Other famous names include Matt Damon who was cast around four months later for the supporting role of Dr. Mann and filmed his scenes in Iceland.
Other cast members include Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Mackenzie Foy, and David Gyasi .
Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher Nolan, spent four years working on the script of Interstellar after being hired by Steven Spielberg. To be scientifically accurate, he actually studied relativity at the California Institute of Technology. He was inspired by sci-fi fiction depicting apocalyptic scenes and quotes movies such as WALL-E and Avatar to be his inspiration. When Spielberg moved his production studio DreamWorks from Paramount to Walt Disney Studios in 2009, Paramount needed a new director. Jonathan Nolan suggested his brother, Christopher Nolan’s name and by 2012, he was on board.
Christopher Nolan the co-writer, producer and director of Interstellar decided to take some of the ideas he could actually work with and convey to the audience effectively from the script that Jonathan Nolan and Kip Thorne created and merged it with a script he had been working on for years. This interesting combination is probably what gave the movie a scientific yet emotional appeal. Who would have thought those two themes went together?
Christopher Nolan is one of the few names that can inspire a huge response from audiences. Because of his movie-star status in both studios as well as the media, it is no wonder that Nolan took a huge risk with a movie like Interstellar. Due to the Nolan name, Interstellar became a sort of cult movie, a cultural symbol, a raging phenomenon and a subject of much debate.
Kip Thorne is a theoretical physicist and actually served as a scientific consultant for the script and production of Interstellar. He was pretty adamant about two important things- that nothing in the movie would violate laws of physics and that any speculations, wild or otherwise, would arise from science and not from the realms of fiction. This was a very good idea since Nolan's movie was discussed to death, down to each depiction and dialogue for loopholes and faults.
The coolest thing that the movie shows is the black hole which was a source of major concern during the movie's making. Nolan was quite concerned that the not-so- scientifically-inclined audience would not visually comprehend an accurate depiction of the wormhole and the massive black hole. The best part is that looking at the visuals created by equations and scientific facts, Thorne actually observed interesting phenomena regarding the black hole and published two papers!
Astrophysicist Neil degGrasse Tyson have explored the ending of the movie and concluded that it is scientifically accurate. Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku was also all praises for Nolan's Interstellar, saying it could serve as a standard for future sci-fi movies.
However, some scientists aren't very convinced that Interstellar. Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss is one such disgruntled scientist. He believes that the movie is in fact miserable and blames the industry for ruining scientific ideas for entertainment. He is not convinced with the movie's opening sequence which shows the blight on Earth, saying it is an example of poor science that is depicted in the movie.
Astrobiologist David Grinspoon is also of the opinion that the blight scenario is exaggerated and cannot be scientifically accurate.
According to Kip Thorne himself, the biggest incident of creative license in the movie is the depiction of the clouds of the ice planet. These structures go beyond the material strength that ice would scientifically be able to support.
Interstellar has amazing effects, graphics, sounds, and some truly magnificent scenes. Viewers have responded favorably to the use of sounds that are accurate and haunting. With Hans Zimmer scoring Interstellar, the soundtrack released on November 18, 2014, was loved by fans and critics alike.
Some of the space travel scenes and action sequences are truly breathtaking and show Nolan's expertise. They leave a mark in the viewer's brain and truly inspire.
However, this Nolan movie is definitely one which has mixed responses.
Interstellar is a rare combination of heart and science and it can actually become quite confused between the two. Audiences are faced with two differing situations- gallant, beautiful space adventure, and children left behind in the dust-bowl situation on Earth. The problem with such a plot is that people feel like Nolan could not do justice to either of the two themes, leaving people confused about what to feel.
Some scenes in Interstellar, like the one juxtaposing the power of love and the power of science, are criticized to be childish and overly emotional for a sci-fi movie. Moreover, the movie is criticized for containing internal logic that audiences don't understand, obsession with concepts that don't really add to the storyline, and some intense loopholes.
Awards and Accolades
Interstellar was successful at the box office with a worldwide gross of over $675 million. In its opening weekend, the film earned $ 47,510,360, coming in second place after Disney's Big Hero 6.
At the 87th Academy Awards, Interstellar won in the category of Best Visual Effects and was nominated for the categories of Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Production Design. Interstellar also won in the category of Best Special Visual Effects at the British Academy Film Awards.
Interesting facts about Interstellar
The apocalyptic Earth setting in Interstellar is actually inspired by the Dust Bowl disaster that took place during the Great Depression in the 1930s in America.
The black hole depicted in Interstellar is in the same position as the one shown in Man of Steel which is also a movie by Nolan.
The method of space travel in Interstellar is based on Kip Thorne's own work which inspired the method of space travel in the book Contact by Carl Sagan which was also made into a movie in 1997. Interestingly, Matthew McConaughey stars in both these movies.
Hans Zimmer wrote the score for Interstellar after receiving a one-page letter from Nolan about being a father. He did not read the script and the score is based on that one page.
All the robot names in the movie are actually anagrams. TARS is an anagram for STAR, KIPP is an anagram for KIP Thorne, and adding the extra P to the name CASE gives you the word SPACE
For some reason, actor Matt Damon's role was kept secret until the actual release of the movie. He was not included in the promotion of the film, his name was not disclosed, and he was not present at any of the premiers.
Christopher Nolan actually grew 500 acres of corn for a cornfield scene in Interstellar. The corn was sold later and Nolan made a profit!
Even though Thorne had been clear about all the concepts- wild and otherwise, being scientifically accurate, Nolan got it into his head to let one of the characters travel faster than light. It took Thorne two weeks to convince Nolan to abandon this particular idea.
The massive dust clouds were actually created by blowing cellulose-based dust through the air using huge fans.
Murphy's character was actually going to be a boy as the earlier drafts of the script depict.
The film for the 70-mm IMAX version of Interstellar had to be moved using a pitchfork and weighed a whooping 600 pounds.
The tesseract scene which depicts something that looks like a giant library is actually very similar to the L-space or Library space described in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
To watch or not to watch?
Even though it has been criticized as being slightly confused between hard, cold science and warm, fuzzy emotions, Interstellar is one of those epic sci-fi movies you really cannot miss out on! Christopher Nolan has taken a huge risk which has paid off in terms of brilliant cinematography, beautiful imagery, haunting music, breathtaking scenes, and enough action for a good, long stretch of fantasy fun. Do not miss out on a blockbuster which is sure to pop up in sci-fi debates for years!