Friday, June 3, 2016

"Interstellar" (2014)

Nolan’s attempt to out-do 2001: A Space Odyssey, appears to have succeeded in the minds of many, as it outranks Kubrick’s film on imdb’s 250 by over 80 slots. And it shares many of that other film's traits: amazing cinematography, visuals, effects, music, etc., etc. It also borders on the “Emperor’s New Clothes” effect. It is so complicated and dense that saying you don’t like it would mean you are dumb.

But, despite several factors going against it, (length, pacing, the science falling apart and giving way to “hand-wavy,” magical solutions) it is a beautiful piece of art and a moving story. Mostly for one reason:

It is a story about love. Not the romantic love so popular in film, or even the sexual love that seems to be the only version of love pop-culture can fathom, but real, sacrificial love. The love between a father and his children. Many people scoffed at this aspect of the film, but it is its genius.

The thesis is voiced by a character in the film, the scientist Brand:

Brand:  Love isn't something that we invented. It's observable, powerful. It has to mean something.
Cooper:  Love has meaning, yes. Social utility, social bonding, child rearing...
Brand:  We love people who have died. Where's the social utility in that?
Cooper:  None.
Brand:  Maybe it means something more, something we can't yet understand. Maybe it's some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can't consciously perceive. I'm drawn across the universe to someone I haven't seen in a decade, who I know is probably dead. Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can't understand it.

Our main character, Cooper, is indeed drawn across dimensions including time to his daughter with the future of all humanity riding on his love for her enabling him to communicate the message that will save them.

OK. So you have to lay a lot of things aside to embrace this story. There is a whole lot of paradoxical time travel stuff going on. And you have to accept the feeble attempts to communicate 5 dimensional reality to our three dimensional minds in a two dimensional medium. (Don’t tell me seeing this in 3D made it really 3d.) And there is a lot of amazing coincidences and luck happening. (To quote the film, when Brand tells Cooper something he wants to do is “not possible,” he replies “No, it’s necessary.”)

But we get past all of that. We even get past the somewhat silly and humanistic “humanity is its own salvation” because the truth that is underlying everything is amazing.

Love is the greatest force in the universe.

That is something with which I as a Christian resonate. I do believe that Love—not human ideas of love, romance or sex, but real capital L Love—is the greatest force in the universe. Love transcends all dimensions, time, gravity, reality itself. Love is real and inexplicable by science. Love confounds. Love works things out that shouldn’t happen but need to. Love saves us. And in my experience, Love is a person. Love created everything that is. Love is on a mission to save humanity that is lost and headed to a certain death. And Love is trying to communicate to us, but it requires a great deal of faith to hear what Love is saying.

And there I go reading a whole lot into a film that wasn’t intended. At least not exactly.

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