It was 2005 I think. I entered a theatre to see a superhero film. I expected a fun ride. A lot of thrills, great special effects, and a flimsy plot. I got all except the last. The film was batman begins, and the plot was exquisitely crafted, complex, and it made sense even though it was completely bonkers. I realized I needed to know this director better, and I have now watched every film made by him. Memento, Insomnia, Prestige & Inception are all masterpieces.
Christopher Nolan has a particular style. For starters, he thinks his audience is intelligent. He doesn’t feel the need to dumb down the story just so that the general public will understand. With this in mind, he creates visually rich, exquisitely penned worlds with a complicated plot. Interstellar is all that: in space.
Interstellar is a story set in a future where the earth is running out of food. Where nothing is as good as it once was, and the whole future of humanity is at stake. Some scientists believe they have figured out a way to travel outside our solar system and look for new worlds. This is the story of these scientists, the explorers who go out, and the people they leave behind.
Interstellar is probably Nolan’s most overtly emotional film. It is also his least “see how clever that was” film. But it is tough in another way: Physics. The film is steeped in the lore of physics. Multiple dimensions, space-time continuum, Gravity v/s time….. These terms are thrown about freely. And they are explained, but just once. If you were concentrating on your popcorn at the time, tough luck. You’ll still enjoy the film, I think, but lose some nuance on the way.
And there is a lot to enjoy here. The plot, of course. But also the acting: Matthew McConaughey has emerged as the most reliable performer, both in films and on TV. But the rest of the cast is great as well, both the adult and the child actors. The emotional depth of the film owes a lot to the actors remaining true to their characters. Even the artificial intelligence pitches in to make the experience both realistic and fantastical.
But if all fails, watch it for the spectacle. The decaying world is as breathtaking as it is heartbreaking. The technology and equipment is both advanced and run-down at the same time. And above all, it is a treat to see space on the large screen. To see physics unfolding in front of your eyes. To make real the glories that we imagine, but have never seen visualized so vividly.
This is the sort of film that children watch and grow up to be scientists. This is the sort of film that makes me wish I was a physicist. This is the sort of film I want the film makers of India to watch and aspire for. It’s possible to be completely original, critically acclaimed as well as a box office success.
This is what I love Nolan’s films for. A lot of thrills, great special effects, and a complex, engaging plot. A classic by Mr Nolan. Another one.