A Visual Extravaganza


An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            Interstellar jumps instantly into our collective fascination with outer space. How many times have we looked up in the sky in wonder? Because possibility has become probability, every new scientific advance brings greater astonishment. Why don’t those planets collide? How can one be made of glacial ice and another of enormous water waves? Scientists say that much of this movie is rooted in real science.
            The brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have brought us a space movie that may lure even those who think they don’t care. They open by introducing a family. Widower Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), daughter Murph (Mackensie Foy, Jessica Chastain), and son (Timothy Chalamet, Casey Affleck) are coping with a global crisis that dwarfs the 1930s Dust Bowl. The opening scenes show both the majesty and tragedy of Midwestern corn fields as the country tries desperately to raise enough food to keep people alive.
            When Cooper is recruited by Professor Brand (Michael Caine) to embark on a two year space search for an alternative where humanity can reinvent itself, physics savvy Murph is decimated by her father’s departure. The father/daughter bond becomes a metaphor for whether earth’s population will be able to migrate or will be left behind to wither. The blending of the human story with the space search is the bedrock of the movie’s appeal.
            The riveting connection between those still on earth and those aloft is the fact that one hour in space equals seven years on earth. The family we have come to love ages two decades while the space crew ages by just a few hours.
            The quibbles: a too long and confusing final hour. The strengths: magnificent visuals, family story, grand cast. McConaughey (the perfect explorer); Anne Hathaway (a just right no nonsense physicist); Mackensie Foy (thoroughly original as the young Murph); Jessica Chastain (nicely believable as her grown up version). Toss in Matt Damon, John Lithgow and Michael Caine for additional credibility.
            Modern technology has given the filmmakers the tools to create breathtaking sights of the exploration of comets, black holes, worm holes, and gravitational realities. The Nolan brothers make spectacular use of those tools. In a wondrous publicity coincidence, their movie opened at the same time scientists landed an icebox size lab on a distant comet while we inspected its contours and fabric on the front page of the New York Times.
            Audiences now have a greater sense of risk, reward, and possibility than when they watched earlier space movies that were purely fictional. “What’s out there, and can we use it?” is a question that now has new power.
            “We’re not meant to save the world. We’re meant to leave it,” says Professor Brand. We’ll have to wait for the sequel to see whether the whole earthly population gets to leave the mess they have made of earth or whether the unfortunate many are left behind in the burning cornfields. Think about that next time you look up at the night sky.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : Interstellar
Word count : 498
Studio : WB/Paramount/Syncopy/Legendary
Running time : 2:49
Rating : PG-13


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