Notes on News: In Defence of Interstellar

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Christopher Nolan’s latest Hollywood Blockbuster Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey as he undertakes a mission into deep space to find an alternative home for humanity. This film is absolutely exceptional; possibly Nolan’s best piece of work to date. The film did receive great critical acclaim, however quite a substantial number of critics chose to take their reviews in the other direction. Interstellar was not a perfect film, but it certainly deserves to be more widely praised than it actually was. Critics have conjured up a list of issues they had with the film such as the lack of ambiguity, the unnecessary ending, faulted science, dry characters, lack of suspense and the absence of a unifying theme. As well as the fact that many people would disagree with these so-called issues, it appears that all too often critics are searching desperately for faults in a film when it is completely unnecessary.

Scientists and critics claim there are numerous scientific faults in the film which lessens its credibility. Kip Thorne, science consultant for the film, explains that the basis of the science is obviously true and very well researched. He also explains that the film aims to explore a concept, not prove a scientific theory. Many of the people watching Interstellar would be mesmerised by the revolutionary nature of the science, and would certainly not be looking for faults. Thorne goes on to explain that Interstellar deals with physics which is well understood and established, however there are some educated guesses (very well researched educated guesses at that) whereby there has to be speculation in areas not yet proven. This is why Interstellar is so engaging and fascinating, as the events taking place have a degree of realism in the fact that similar events could happen one day when science is more advanced.

These critics seem to forget that films are mostly fiction. As soon of the word ‘science’ is mentioned as the basis of this film, critics react as if the film can have no creative input whatsoever. Just as filmmakers often face harsh criticism for a historical biography due to lack of accuracy or disagreement in interpretation, Interstellar is facing unnecessary disapproval. People go to the cinema to be inspired and entertained, not to analyse the accuracy of the contents. This is not to say that a film so scientifically focused as Interstellar should go so far as to make up scientific facts. The very fact that this is based on genuine scientific research makes this very real and exciting for the audience. We cannot act like science altogether is not important, as we – the ‘general public’ – do take interest in these exciting theories that are constantly developing and changing. However, this is a film that pushes the boundaries.

Another criticism was that the talking heads at the beginning of the film explaining how the earth used to be before it was saved, effectively removed any suspense as to whether the earth and humanity will survive. However the story becomes more than that, with the audience caring more about McConaughey and his family’s fate rather than that of the earth. The film is packed full of suspenseful moments, such as the desperation the audience feel when the crew struggle to leave the planet of sea before the towering wave crashes down onto their docking station, the struggle for the crew to use time to their best advantage, the painful hope that Murph is able to interpret her father’s supernatural Morse code messages, and the hope that McConaughey will succeed in docking his landing craft to an out of control spinning space station.

Some people claimed that the film lacked a unifying theme, however the film’s main theme is so explicitly emphasised throughout the film it would be very difficult to miss. Everything McConaughey does in this film is motivated through love. Although perhaps at first he undertakes this mission because of his genuine passion for astronomy, we see a stronger force in this film which is constantly motivating McConaughey. Cooper is heartbroken by his departure from his daughter Murph, and perhaps McConaughey’s most impressive performance in the film is his painful breakdown where he returns from the water planet where twenty-three years have passed for fellow crew member Romilly. Cooper catches up on the messages left by his family on earth which brings him to hysterical tears. This Oscar-worthy performance highlights Cooper’s sole drive, and the one unifying theme for the film: love.

The issue with today’s film critics is they try too hard to find fault in a movie that does not deserve to be so harshly criticised in a sphere that it wasn’t trying to explore. The fact that it is their job to critique results in an over-cynical, unimaginative view of things which sucks all of the creativity out of a movie. Of course every movie has its faults, and I am not discouraging criticism, however were these petty issues in Interstellar really enough to bring ratings down as low as two stars on Rotten Tomatoes? The critique of these minuscule details seemed to ruin the big picture.

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Former Film Editor for The Edge, second year history student, Irish dancer and film enthusiast. My biggest inspiration is by Bear Grylls. Yes Bear Grylls. Originally from West London.

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