Interstellar, by Albert W. Vogt III

There are movies that I frankly do not understand.  There was also a time in my life when that would have aggravated me.  One of the benefits of growing in Faith is becoming more in tune with how God sees you.  I can, in no way, shape, or form tell you that I have completed this process. The emotional wounds that scar our souls take the longest to heal, and are easily reopened.  I am no different from anyone else in this regard.  Yet, since God is constant in His love for us, I know that in good times and bad it is something upon which I can rely.  To do so, it takes letting go, and it is pride that made this self-proclaimed brainiac be embarrassed whenever something seemed beyond my intellectual grasp.  The stage I am in right now is more like scorn.  This is how I view today’s film, Interstellar (2014).  I still have a long way to go.

Interstellar begins with a much more earthly setting.  It is 2065 and Earth is on the verge of dying completely thanks to whatever environmental disaster the news will tell you is about to bring about global catastrophe.  In this case, these problems have led to a planet spanning famine, and all scientific research is being poured into solving this crisis.  This means that former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut and pilot Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) has become a farmer.  He is also a widow raising a young daughter, Murphy “Murph” (Mackenzie Foy), and son Tom (Timothée Chalamet).  Also living with them is Donald (John Lithgow), his father-in-law.  Their life is one of barely holding on, between dust storms, the lack of educational opportunities, and few prospects for the future.  The one strange thing going on in the house is taking place in Murph’s bedroom, where she claims there is a ghost.  Following another dust storm, the grit that gets in through her open window ends up making a pattern on the floor.  For Joseph, these mean coordinates, and he follows it to a lonely gate in the mountains where he is promptly tasered by guards.  When he comes to, he is confronted by his old NASA boss Dr. John Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter and fellow astronaut, Amelia (Anne Hathaway).  As it turns out, NASA had not been shut down, but instead had been continuing its mission on whatever private funding they could find.  Their research, though, has been going to help solve the crisis their planet finds itself in by looking for other inhabitable planets.  They feel they have a potential shortcut for doing so with a wormhole that has been discovered near Saturn.  They have already sent twelve separate ships, which produced three potential sites, but none of them returned.  Dr. Brand feels it is no coincidence that Joseph arrived at this moment, and eventually he asks if he will pilot the next mission.  Doing so is no easy task as it involves leaving his family behind and likely never seeing them again.  It is also a long time before the Endurance, the name of the ship in which Amelia, Joseph, and the rest of the crew will travel through the wormhole, reaches the anomaly near Saturn.  Once through, they head to the first of the three planets indicated by previous missions.  This is where things get goofy, and the film begins to lose me.  Despite the previous trek taking place ten years ago, our next set of explorers arrive only hours after the last space capsule.  Their counterparts are also missing, and the surface is basically one giant tidal wave that almost kills them all.  They manage to get back to the Endurance, and somehow twenty-three years have passed while for them it was minutes.  Furthermore, there are a number of messages that have been sent to the Endurance from their loved ones back on Earth.  Dr. Brand is still having trouble with the gravity equation he believes will save humanity and allow them to travel the stars more easily.  As for Joseph’s now grow-up children, Tom (Casey Affleck) has taken over the farm, and Murph (Jessica Chastain) has become a NASA scientist.  Tom has given up on any return by Joseph, and Murph believes her father has purposely abandoned them.  With this heavy news, the crew of the Endurance decides to move on to the next of the three planets.  This one turns out to be completely frozen with a poisonous atmosphere.  I would say that it is nice that its discoverer, Dr. Mann (Matt Damon), turns out to be alive.  Yet, he tries to murder Joseph and maroon Amelia by stealing the Endurance to get back to Earth.  His docking maneuver ends poorly, resulting in his death and damage to the ship. Luckily, Joseph and Amelia are able to make it back, but they now have a weight issue due to the harm done to the Endurance.  Joseph decides he is expendable and jettisons himself into the black hole, allowing Amelia to carry on with the mission.  Meanwhile, on Earth, Murph visits their home one last time, drawn there because it seems like the end is finally arriving and wanting one last memory.  There is also some feeling she cannot shake that the solution to Dr. Brand’s equation is there, and she sits in her old room thinking.  At the same time (I guess), Joseph enters a tesseract he surmises have been left there by more advanced humans in the future, and is able to communicate through space and time with his daughter.  Somehow, he knows the answer she is looking for, and she knows it is him talking to her from another dimension.  Anyway, this is what humanity needs to save itself, and the tesseract spits Joseph out ninety years after he left Earth and he is picked up at a space station.  He is reunited with his now celebrated and nearly dead Murph (Ellen Burstyn).  She encourages him to go back through the wormhole to find Amelia, who has made it to the last planet and finds it inhabitable.  This is apparently what Joseph does, so hooray.

I suppose I buried the lead in talking about Interstellar in my introduction by not mentioning that it is directed by Christopher “I am the god of time” Nolan.  I would be curious to see what his daily schedule looks like.  I would not be surprised to find that he eats dinner, sleeps eight hours, works, and then has breakfast.  My issues with his non-linear story telling are well documented, and you can search his other movies on The Legionnaire to get more of a discussion on this score.  Here, he takes it to its apotheosis.  As I do not have a degree in astrophysics, I could not tell you how any of this works.  Why does time move at different speeds in different places?  The end all, be all, answer in this film seems to be gravity.  It seems like a bunch of made-up crap, but again, I am not expert.  God put me Earth and gave me the ability to experience time the way any of us does, and I am content with that reality.  One could say that the film allows one to perceive events more like God does.  Perhaps.  2 Peter 3:8 talks about how a day to God is like 1,000 years, and vice versa.  Yet, that is not something that we mere mortals are privy to.  Instead, we use mathematics to conceptualize these kinds of ideas.  Equations are utterly meaningless to God, thus any attempt to do what we see in the movie is absurd.  Some things are truly best left to God.

My frustrations with Interstellar center on the non-linear nature of the story.  Then again, that is Christopher Nolan for you.  I will give credit to Joseph for being brave and consistently choosing the noble path.  Jesus’ call to His disciples also involved them leaving everything behind.  It is too bad that his genuinely good actions had to be wrapped in this awful package.  If you do not care about such inconsistencies like I do, and that is okay, then by all means see it.  I have no moral objections to it.  I just find it aggravating, though not like when I was younger.


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