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Review - 'Interstellar' (2014)

Saturday, 13 December 2014  | David Cahill


“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

Interstellar is a masterpiece of cinema that will be considered a reference point in years to come much like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner were in years gone by. Sitting down for an escape from the mundane of our busy little lives, you won't know what you're in for with this 3-hour epic. The slow start grounds the drama on earth before propelling us into a mind-bending, spine-tingling, space opera extravaganza that is a feast for the senses and a rollercoaster of emotions. It will linger with you long after you hop off the haunting orchestral carousel of Hans Zimmer's rousing score. There are too many layers of symbolism and imagery, thematic subplots, and sensory overload to take it all in in one sitting. You will scratch your head in some parts, gasp in wonder and awe in others, and question, ‘What does it all mean?’

And that's the beauty of such a movie. Rather than numbing your senses, it enlivens them; rather than entertaining, it unsettles and disturbs, provoking thought and feeling for what's happening before your eyes. Such a film might disappoint spectators who merely look on from the safety of an overtly analytical lens dissecting the hypothetical ‘science’. To truly appreciate this one, you must surrender to its emotional power, participate in the experience, and have faith to "not go gently into that good night" as the Dylan Thomas poem echoes throughout.  

Interstellar explores deeply interwoven themes that reverberate throughout the movie. Time, death and love become all too significant in light of the overwhelming circumstances facing the characters on their momentous mission. The excruciating moral dilemmas involving loved ones and light years, faces and feelings burn in your memory as the merciless tides of time tick away

There are consistent contrasts between darkness and light, nature and nurture. Our innate survival instinct is portrayed in various instances as either driving us on toward life with continued hope, faith and love for our fellow man or cold, calculated, selfish survival-at-all-costs, regardless of the damage to intimate trust and entirely empty of sacrificial, others-focused desires. The refrain, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” is so frighteningly relevant.  

Interstellar makes you think big—what is my place is in this world? Why I am here? Why are we here? Is it all just randomly spiraling out of control? Are we just fighting to fit in amongst the chaos of this world, or is there meaning, purpose and reason behind it all? Are we caught up in a grand production, on a scale far beyond the reaches of our intellect, the grasp of our understanding? If so, what’s my part to play, my verse to contribute? Questions, questions… 

There are scenes when the montage of sight and sound swings into overdrive, with contrasting images flashing before your eyes and the spellbinding score pulsating away like the film’s racing heartbeat. In such moments you become all too aware of how fragile we are in the grand scheme of things, desperately dependent on so many elements to keep us alive, clinging to our personal connections for comfort. You get the sense there is so much at stake with so little time, every moment is crucial, every decision weighty. Of all the resources we're running out of, time is that most precious human commodity we can’t recover.

The voyage representing the human race is portrayed like a ticking time bomb; it could go off at any moment. The mortality of individuals perhaps only outweighed by the ever-present peril facing the species at large.
The music evokes a sense of imminent disaster, like we’re holding on by a fleeting breath, the forces of nature are closing in, and there seems no way out. The universe is playing our funeral tune of impending doom—are we left helplessly holding on for dear life? Is extinction inevitable? The film embodies the notion of ‘poetry in motion’ like few others.

 

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4)

 


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