In the future, Planet Earth is in a bad way, since the crops have failed across the world and the toll it has taken on the population has been devastating. In the United States, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) has been a pilot in his life, but now as with almost everyone else in his part of the country he has been forced to become a farmer, as the lack of food available has become the priority to solve. However, he believes we should put our faith in technology, and has imparted that to his children, fifteen-year-old Tom (Timothée Chalomet) and ten-year-old Murph (Mackenzie Foy), who especially accepts her father's scientific view of the world, going as far as telling her fellow pupils and even teachers how wrong they are getting their lessons. But what can she or Cooper realistically do?
Taking their cue from the writings of scientist Kip Thorne, screenwriters Jonathan and Christopher Nolan took a curious tack with their sci-fi epic Interstellar, marrying the hardest of theories about the universe with an appeal to the heart, telling us they are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, if this had been more religious in theme - not that God is denied, but mankind was the source of its own destiny, no matter how it was guided - then the Nolan brothers may well have been accused of evangelising, the entire film not above instructing the audience how they should be living their lives. There was assuredly some science fiction which mixed portents with self-help lessons about how we should be treating our environment, how we should treat others and what we should concentrate on for the future, but not many mixed them with this ambition.
By aiming straight for the emotional centres of anyone watching, Christopher Nolan as director risked turning them off in a fit of rejection, unwilling to be manipulated so blatantly, and so it was that just about every character bursts into tears during the near-three hour running time, so much so that you may begin to wish some of these so-called professionals could hold it together for more than ten minutes at a time - it's very refreshing to see Anne Hathaway as astronaut Brand start laughing at one point, to demonstrate there were other reactions available to the incredible (and incredibly sad, incredibly ironic, incredibly scary, and so forth). In Steven Spielberg films characters stare in amazement and wonder at events they never thought they would see, here the lower lip trembled and the tears began to flow.
Fortunately, while all this did get a bit much, the technical details meant Interstellar was never less than captivating to look at, or listen to as the sound design was impeccably rendered, be it the silence of space or the roar of a rocket engine. The publicity was extremely cagey about informing us of what the plot was about, ordering the audience to go in knowing as little about what was in store as possible, telling us only it was set in the future where our Earth was dying and featured a space mission to find somewhere else that could save the human race. Which was more or less what happened, but while this could have been a dry reheating of 2001: A Space Odyssey's tricks, including the state of the art special effects, the human capacity for love that Stanley Kubrick had almost entirely ignored in his movie was central to the effect.
Murph is most upset her father decided to leave her for the mission to Saturn, and this resentment continues for years as it grows apparent he never will return. This simple fear of abandonment, so strong in children, leaves the narrative as something of a guilt trip for Cooper and his crew for it is amplified into the whole of their home world's population, and Nolan banks on this generating the emotional kick, a brave move when most of the audience venturing to see sci-fi and fantasy spectacles were not so much interested in going on a journey of exploring their feelings and more intent on getting some seriously amazing visuals to take their breath away. For that reason there were naysayers cynical about what amounted to a nineteen-sixties and -seventies influenced ecology lecture tying in with keeping love uppermost in the mind, but with the world to all intents and purposes going to hell in a handbasket, or so the nightly news would tell you, there was a definite comfort in seeing someone saving ourselves from ourselves. A little silly, but quite sweet really. Music by Hans Zimmer.
British director specialising in dark thrillers. Made an impressive debut with the low-budget Following, but it was the time-twisting noir Memento that brought him to Hollywood's attention. 2002's Al Pacino-starrer Insomnia was a remake of a Norwegian thriller, while Batman Begins was one of 2005's biggest summer movies. The hits kept coming with magician tale The Prestige, and Batman sequel The Dark Knight was the most successful movie of Nolan's career, which he followed with ambitious sci-fi Inception and the final entry of his Batman trilogy The Dark Knight Rises. He then attempted to go as far as he could with sci-fi epic Interstellar, another huge success at the box office, which was followed by his World War II blockbuster Dunkirk.