The Importance of Interstellar

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(Syncopy/Paramount Pictures)

*Warning: spoilers ahead, but Interstellar was released in 2014

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is not your typical space odyssey; it is a story of hope, perseverance, and most importantly, love. It highlights the true nature of humanity. It reminds us that our perceived world-shaking third-world problems are microscopic in an infinitely large universe. Perhaps, Interstellar is one of the most important movies of the decade.

Interstellar takes place in the mid-21st century as crop blights and dust storms have plagued the earth, threatening the survival of the human race. Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a widowed former NASA pilot, lives a modest life, running a farm with his father-in-law, son Tom, and daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy). Cooper raises Murphy, or Murph, to question and meticulously observe her surroundings. However, living in a post-truth society, children are also raised to believe that space travel is a hoax. For instance, Murph is reprimanded for telling her classmates that the Apollo missions were not fake. Cooper disregards these reprimands and continues to push Murph to remain inquisitive. Soon after, Cooper and Murph discover dust patterns in her bedroom. Murphy first attributes these dust patterns to a ghost, but in reality, they result from gravity variations and translate into geographic coordinates. These coordinates lead them to a secret NASA facility headed by Cooper’s former supervisor, Professor John Brand (Michael Caine). At the NASA facility, Professor Brand informs Cooper about a wormhole located near Saturn which was found 48 years prior. This wormhole is an entrance to a distant galaxy where there are potentially twelve habitable planets located near a black hole called Gargantua. Since previous explorers have reported promising data, Professor Brand offers Cooper to lead a new expedition on a spaceship called the Endurance to the distant galaxy in order to transmit data which could develop a new gravitational propulsion theory, allowing a mass exodus from Earth. If Plan A is not feasible, Cooper would take 5,000 frozen embryos to a habitable planet, ensuring humanity’s survival. Despite Murph’s disapproval, Cooper accepts Professor Brand’s offer and leads a crew of three other scientists, one of which is Professor Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway). In addition, two extremely high-tech robots named TARS and CASE accompany the crew. Before Cooper departs for Gargantua, he gives a watch to Murph; this watch plays a significant role later in the movie.

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Gargantua (Syncopy/Paramount Pictures)

Escaping 4,000 foot tides on Miller’s planet and the toxic ammonia atmosphere on a world made of ice, Cooper’s journey to save the human race is quite adventurous. However, his journey is also the perfect representation of the humanity. He is driven by an incalculable force: love. His love for his daughter, Murph, motivates him to push the limits of human space travel. It’s ironic, for as he diverts farther and farther away from Murph in both terms of space and time, his love for her grows. On Miller’s planet, where time is severely dilated, Cooper and his crew run into problems, for they could not find data about the planet’s ability to sustain human life. After departing the planet, Cooper finds out that 23 years have elapsed on Earth, despite the fact that he was on the planet for a few hours. This means that he has missed 23 years of his children’s lives. Back on the Endurance, Cooper watches video recordings of his children throughout those 23 years. The scene is absolutely moving as Matthew McConaughey fully commits to his character, perfectly portraying Cooper’s sentiments. This scene builds up momentum to the climax of the movie when Cooper enters the black hole as a sacrifice, so Amelia can reach Edmund’s planet safely. In the black hole, Cooper falls into a tesseract, a five-dimensional means of communication which was left behind by humans in the future. In other words, Cooper can travel through the tesseract to any point in time, past, present, or future. The tesseract is specifically catered to display Murph’s bedroom, so Cooper can see any moment of Murph’s life in her bedroom. Thus, Cooper is able to communicate with Murph by touching the “strings” of the watch he gave his her when he left. Cooper realizes that he was Murph’s “ghost” all along. Once inside the Tesseract, TARS is able to extract the quantum data from the singularity which is vital to develop a new gravitational propulsion theory. After translating the quantum data into Morse code, Cooper sends it to Murph as tiny gravitational waves that alter the movement of the second hand on the watch. Despite the fact that Cooper is able to send this crucial data to Murph, TARS warns Cooper that Murph may not receive the data if she left the watch behind, for Murph was going to abandon her house due to the imminent eco-apocalypse. Motivated by Dr. Brand’s belief that love is something perceptible that “transcends dimensions of time and space,” Cooper believes the quantum data will get to Murph through the watch, for it is symbolic of their love.

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Cooper in the Tesseract (Syncopy/Paramount Pictures)

Cooper represents the true nature of humanity. His love is portrayed as the universe’s most powerful force as it transcends the dimensions of time and space. He displays perseverance and determination as he stretches the limits of humanity, millions of miles away from Earth. The film score in Interstellar is also incredible. Despite being snubbed at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes for best original score in a motion picture, Hans Zimmer could not be more proud of how his music impacted the movie as a whole and its effect on the audience. His music perfectly with Cooper’s adventure.

Interstellar also teaches us to remember the more important aspects of life. Sometimes, we are all so caught up in our own worlds (pun intended) that we forget that there is a whole world around us, not to mention a universe as well. Interstellar focuses on the simplicity of Cooper’s life with his children. This simplicity is full of fun, laughter, and love. Leaving behind this type of life on Earth, Cooper dealt with guilt and misery as he journeyed through space. Luckily, we aren’t in the same dire circumstances as Cooper, so maybe we should decide to focus on the things in our control and leave the rest up to destiny. Our third-world problems aren’t actually problems. Our world isn’t falling apart if we lost our Snapchat streaks or we spilled tomato sauce on our new pair of jeans. As long as the Earth is spinning and the sun keeps on shining, our lives will keep on rolling.

Although it appears to be any ordinary journey through space, there are hidden messages which relate to our lives and our world today that we should acknowledge.

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