I read that those involved in the making of the 2014 movie, Interstellar believed they were making a movie worthy of being thought of as this generation’s version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Interstellar is certainly a sweeping epic that involves weighty topics such as time travel, the origins of life on new planets and the ties that bind families together over the course of many generations. It stars an A-list cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine and Timothee Chalamet. In addition to those fine people, the movie soundtrack is scored by none other than the current king of movie composers, Hans Zimmer. *(A previous post was written about Hans Zimmer. It can be read here). So, the table is set for a sumptuous cinematic feast. Let’s dig in and find out how good it actually tastes.
The plotline of Interstellar is that our time on Earth is coming to an end. The planet has dried out because of climate change. Drinking water is becoming scarce. Dust storms are becoming more frequent. So, a team of astronauts is tasked with searching for signs of habitable planets in other solar systems. Interstellar space travel is made possible because of the discovery of a black hole beside Saturn. Exploratory missions have determined that it is possible to travel safely through this black hole, and not only that, but return again to Earth through it as well. As much as this all sounds like science fiction, the science behind Interstellar was based upon work conducted by one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities on black holes…an astrophysicist named Dr. Kip Thorne. Because of Dr. Thorne’s involvement, many of the fantastical space scenarios shown in the movie are, in fact, rooted in real science, and may end up turning from science fiction to science fact in the not-too-distant future in real life.
But the movie Interstellar is more than just a space movie. At its core, Interstellar is a treatise on the nature of family as the foundation of our society. On Earth, Matthew McConaughey’s family anchors the emotional aspect of the movie. He plays an astronaut who has left the space programme and is raising his two children on a farm. All is good until the climate starts to deteriorate, and the family starts finding what they believe to be coded messages left in the dust that collects in the daughter’s bedroom after each dust storm. The dust appears to be in binary code. The journey to crack this code leads McConaughey to return to space headquarters to volunteer to go on the mission to find new, habitable planets through the black hole by Saturn. His decision to go is based on his heartfelt need to discover a way to protect the future so his children will survive. His children, on the other hand, feel abandoned by him. The emotions at play fuel the decisions of McConaughey, his young daughter (played by Mackenzie Foy), and his son (played by Timothee Chalamet) for the rest of the movie. The added twist that helps to raise Interstellar beyond that of a typical family drama yarn is time travel. When McConaughey and his fellow astronauts travel through the black hole and begin exploring new planets, they age at a slower rate than they would have if they had remained on Earth. In the video that accompanies this post, you will note that McConaughey stays at relatively the same age all throughout the video whereas his daughter changes from a child (Foy) to an adult woman (Chastain) and then, to an elderly lady on her deathbed in a hospital (Ellen Burstyn). So, McConaughey wrestles with the fact that he may have saved the future of Earth, but in doing so, he missed out on his children’s entire lives. There is more to the story than this, but I have probably said too much already for anyone who may wish to watch this movie as a result of this post, so I’ll be quiet now.
The score for the movie was composed by Hans Zimmer specifically for an organ. By organ, I mean a grand, cathedral-esque organ with massive pipes. When Zimmer was tasked with scoring the movie for an organ, he was told that an organ produces a sound that is deep and that resonates in cavernous spaces, but most of all because an organ relies on air for its existence, just like humans do. So, as you watch the video of Zimmer conducting his orchestra, note the presence of the organ and the huge pipes. The video also shows how the score ties into the themes of the movie by displaying the notes on screen as dots and dashes. As these images flow by, you can start to distinguish between them all and match them with the notes you are hearing from the various musical instruments that are playing at any one time. The dashes that are located higher up on screen are for higher-pitched notes and those lower down on the screen are for lower-pitched notes. As well, some dashes are longer than others, which will indicate that a particular note is being held longer while other, shorter dashes/notes weave in and around it. It is fascinating to watch. In addition to the musical construction of the Interstellar Suite, segments from the movie are shown. The scenes from outer space seem to me to work particularly well with Zimmer’s Suite. All in all, I find this video entitled Interstellar Suite to be mesmerizing at times, and I find myself being emotionally invested in the story that is unfolding. You should know that Interstellar Suite is fourteen minutes long, but in my estimation, it doesn’t seem long enough. Between Zimmer’s score and the movie’s scope, this video keeps me coming back for more.
So, is Interstellar this generation’s version of 2001: A Space Odyssey? I don’t think so. But it is still a terrific movie that raises questions about the nature of Love and of how deep our commitment goes to those we call family. Interstellar is a good movie. I think it is fine to stand on its own without having its worth measured by being compared to any other movie. The science of Interstellar is sound. The emotional themes being explored will draw you in and keep you there. The action will have you on the edge of your seat. Zimmer’s musical score is excellent, as usual. So, by all means, check out Interstellar if you feel like watching a good movie. You won’t be disappointed.
If you have seen the movie I would be interested to know what you thought of it. Please feel free to leave your comments below. As well, if you have any other outer space-themed movies that you wish to recommend, feel free to do so below.
The link to the video for the composition Interstellar Suite by Hans Zimmer can be found here.
The link to the trailer for the movie Interstellar can be found here.
The link to a much more thorough and weighty dissection of Interstellar’s plot, the science behind it and the philosophy behind it all can be found here. Please note: this article goes into great detail about what happens in the movie, so obviously, SPOILER ALERT!!! Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed this article, so do with that information what you will.
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