Thursday, July 6, 2017

Interstellar Round Two

I first watched Interstellar in late February, and needless to say, it left me really confused.  You can read my first ramblings here and further ramblings about the soundtrack specifically here.

When I saw that it was going to be shown on TV, I leaped on my chance to watch it again.  I don't own a copy, it's not on Netflix, and I'm not about to rent it On Demand again, so TV viewings with an two hours of commercials is the way to go for me.

Interestingly enough, I noticed way more things in my second viewing (which I guess makes sense) that really enhanced the movie and made me like it even more.  Watching the movie again also inspired me to look into it's background with new interest and I was led to some pretty awesome sources that had more analysis of the film.

As I watched the film I jotted down some fragments of thoughts and I'm just going to go down the list of things I noticed in no particular order and try and explain why I think what I wrote down was significant.

Image result for cooper and donald interstellar

The first new theme that I noticed was Cooper's opinion on the purpose and appropriate role of man in the universe.

We’ve forgotten who we are, Donald.
Explorers, pioneers. Not
caretakers [...] We used to look up and wonder at
our place in the stars. Now we just
look down and worry about our place
in the dirt.

How does Interstellar respond to Cooper's claim about men?  I think largely it supports this idea, since Cooper leaving the Earth and exploring and being a pioneer is ultimately what leads to humanity's survival. 

Later on in the movie, Cooper's son, Tom, keeps his family on the family farm despite the extreme dust storms and the negative health effects they are having on his children, one of whom already died from lung problems, presumably.  He doesn't want to leave his comfort zone and insists on staying put:

I’m a farmer, Murph! You don’t give
up on the Earth.

But Murph, following in the footsteps of Cooper, is the one who explores the equations and works toward advancing the chances of the human race.

In this way, I think the film is really trying to show that you can't just sit around waiting for change to happen or stubbornly refusing to stay where you are.  The only way to save yourself is to keep going, keep fighting.  

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Image result for murph and tom

The other element I noticed was the way in which humans have to leave things behind in order to force themselves to keep going.  The only reason Cooper, Dr. Brand and all the cosmonauts even attempted to save the world was because they cared about specific individuals.  

Would you have left if you hadn’t
believed you were trying to save
them? Evolution has yet to
transcend that simple barrier - we
can care deeply, selflessly for
people we know, but our empathy
rarely extends beyond our line of

And Tars also understands that the cosmonauts only had motivation to keep going because they had left people they love behind.

(over radio)
Newton’s third law - the only way
humans have ever figured out of
getting somewhere is to leave
something behind.

Image result for dr mann interstellar

Again, I'm just going down my random list of thoughts and this is not in any order.  The next thing is simply just a quote that I liked so much I took the time to write it down.  It comes from Donald: "The right thing should not be done for the wrong reason."

Okay a positive thing I noted was how amazing the shots of the ship around Saturn are--they were stunning the first time, but even the second time seeing them they are simply gorgeous shots--some of the best I've ever seen in a movie.

Image result for interstellar saturn

Then of course there is the utilitarian argument about who was right when it came to Cooper and Dr. Mann's fight.  Dr. Mann wanted to kill Cooper in order to prevent him from interfering with Plan B by going home because he thought that it would be better for the human race.  But the movie clearly displays that it's not justifiable to kill one person just for the benefit of the majority, and that's why Dr. Mann is portrayed as a bad guy.

Dr. Mann's name is curious, and I think he's meant to sort of represent all humans and their tendency toward utilitarianism.  Unless humans have strong morals, they will ultimately careen toward a dangerous mentality just like Dr. Mann.

Image result for dr mann interstellar

Brand's monologue about the transcendence of love is (although very heavy handed and not subtle writing in my opinion) very true and I love that theme:

We love people who’ve died ...
where’s the social utility in that?
Maybe it means more - something we
can’t understand, yet. Maybe it’s
some evidence, some artifact of
higher dimensions that we can’t
consciously perceive. I’m drawn
across the universe to someone I
haven’t seen for 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 yet understand it.

Good job screenwriters!  Not so-subtle, but I love your message!

Image result for dr brand interstellar love

Alright, Brand's father (also Brand...) made a decision to lie about Plan A ever being achievable in order to convince Cooper and others to go out into the cosmos.  He knew that they would never do it unless they had hope that they could save the people they loved.  Of course he lied in this instance, which is a red flag, but he was trying to save humanity as a whole.  I think this is another sort of utilitarian argument that is thrown out in this movie and definitely looked down upon.

Image result for dr brand's father interstellar

One thing I noticed that gave me some fangirly feels was at the beginning of the movie when Cooper is leaving young Murph and a book falls from the shelf.  Knowing what happened in the end with the books and Cooper trying to convince himself to stay, my mind was completely blown and I adore that foreshadowing.

Image result for interstellar book falls off shelf

Another question that came up while rewatching this film, was how did future humans construct the tesseract? In order for humans to survive long enough to create the tesseract, a tesseract already had to exist, so how does that work?  Perhaps since in the fifth dimension everything that could happen did happen, meaning there was some sort of parallel universe in which the blight never happened and humans lived on normally and then interfered with another universe in order to save that universe's people?  But if that's the case then Cooper's work and everyone's mission really only saved one universe of people and the parallel universes the opposite or slight variations occurred.  That means that there must be a parallel universe somewhere in which Cooper and everyone failed and none of it even mattered.

Then again, the understanding of the fifth dimension is related to Murphy's law, where everything that can happen will happen.  That's exactly what the tesseract represents in the black hole: it's thousands and thousands (really an infinite number) of bookshelves looking into Murph's room in different parallel universes where every little variation that could possible happen does happen.  Cooper just has to find the right one and convey the quantum data to Murph.  I really like how Murphy's law which is seemingly irrelevant at the beginning ties into the black hole scene at the end.

Image result for interstellar inside black hole

Of course you can find some Biblical parallels within this film, some explicit, and some a little more subtly.  The Lazarus mission to raise one of the lost astronauts from "the dead" is very clear, but there are other parallels as well.  

I've seen some comment that Cooper could represent God the Father, Murph would be God the Son and Cooper interacting with Murph via the black hole out of love is like the Holy Spirit.  I guess that pretty much makes sense when you consider that the Holy Spirit is the exchange of love between the Father and Son that can transcend space and time, and that's basically what was happening between Cooper and Murph when he was in the black hole.  

There were twelve astronauts that left at the same time as Dr. Mann which some people have likened to the twelve desciples, and Dr. Mann as the one who turns bad would have to be Judas in that scenario.

Cooper sacrifices himself in a Christ-like way in order to let Brand continue the mission while he falls into the black hole.

So there are just some of the random thoughts and things I noticed on the second viewing of this movie. What do you think? Am I way off the mark?  Can you even understand what I'm saying or is my sentence structure so poor today that this is all unintelligible?  

Image result for what are you talking about gif

If you're interested in doing some further research into Interstellar, I recommend reading through the screenplay which is way more helpful than watching the movie over and over in terms of analysis.

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Here's a video I liked that analyzes Interstellar:

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