Movie review – Interstellar: Beyond a space odyssey

2014-11-09 15:00

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Director Christopher Nolan likens Earth to a nest. In Interstellar, he explores how we cope when the time to leave it comes. Gayle Edmunds is mesmerised

Film: Interstellar (Nu Metro)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Featuring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain


Our instinct to survive is relentless. Christopher Nolan’s definitive film – his words, not mine – is about how we respond when Earth no longer gives, but shakes us off with blight, sickness and starvation.

But Nolan is too clever to offer an apocalyptic Earth. Instead, the place Matthew McConaughey and his children call home looks like any landscape in the heartland of the US’s agricultural strip. But look a little closer and you will see this is a time that has not yet come, but which we are rushing towards.

McConaughey is Cooper, a pilot grounded by an accident only alluded to, whose daughter Murphy insists there’s a presence in the house trying to send a message. After a particularly nasty sandstorm, Cooper agrees to follow the clues the “presence” provides.

He and Murphy discover what is left of Nasa, in the middle of nowhere, trying to save the human race from extinction. The scientists there have found a way to travel across galaxies and ask Cooper to fly the craft that must discover if there is a world out there that might support life.

So begins a space odyssey that is like no other. It is shot on a grand scale with an infinite canvas, yet the action always goes back to his intimate relationships with his children and how heartbreaking his leaving is, and yet how crucial too.

Nolan says: “To me, space exploration represents the absolute extreme of what the human experience is. It’s all about trying, in some way, to define what our existence means in terms of the universe.”

Interstellar is a grand film that fits no genre. It is about the myriad things that drive life to new frontiers, to make sacrifices and to commit unspeakable acts of evil.

Thanks to Eskom, I missed the last 20 minutes, which made me wonder whether South Africans don’t know more about black holes than most.

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