We have been taking advantage of award season to watch some of the older films that we missed when they were released, when they are given another one-off airing at our local cinema. I know it’s a bit overkill, but we’ve been three times this week. Two old releases, and one new. Total, three very good films. But for now, just the one to talk about…
Interstellar reminded us a little bit of Gravity, once it had got to the point and we worked out what it was about (not that it drags, just that we didn’t quite know what to expect and it takes a while to get there). The premise is an interesting one: the earth is becoming uninhabitable and several altruistic space men and women have set off to other planets in other galaxies through a wormhole (we are beginning to understand physics a bit better thanks to the recent glut of explanations of the whole time-space-gravity thing in film), knowing that they may not make it, and if they do that the chances of a follow-up mission reaching them are slim. An aging professor is supposedly working out a complex equation whilst the follow-up mission sets out to investigate reports from the successful new-planet missions. Roll on minor disasters on the first planet, difficult choices (including the very interesting one to do with how time would pass differently in one particular planet – slower than earth time – and therefore make it difficult to return to family. On the second planet, the initial space man turns out not to be so altruistic after all, sending positive signals in the hope of being rescued. Main space man Cooper then releases the only surviving space woman Amelia towards the planet found by her other half. Cooper expects to die by being dragged into the black hole, but instead finds a way in which to communicate with his daughter on earth. Eventually a rescue mission picks him up and he is reunited with his aged daughter.
The film raises some interesting questions about priorities: what is more important, personal relationships or the future of the human race? Just how altruistic should we be in our quest for ongoing survival of our species? Was the old professor right to lie to the space men and women in order for them to accept his mission? If we have ruined one planet (it didn’t actually spell out why the earth was no longer supportive of one life) should we track down another to use to our purposes? How lucky are we that we have a planet that does support life? Will we ever be able to travel through wormholes? And the ones that mess with your head… Is she still your daughter if she is now older than you (well, yes, but she’s seen more life than you). Doesn’t the same thing happen (to a much lesser degree) when you go on a plane? What about people who travel by plane a lot? And to do with the decision making – can humans ever make an objective decision? The decision to go to the second planet seemed to be based largely on the fact that Amelia couldn’t make an objective decision about which to travel to as she was personally attached to one of the people. It turns out that she would have made a better decision, as second-planet-spaceman had lied about his planet. Or maybe we shouldn’t try to make entirely objective decisions, as we should be guided by emotions to evaluate trustworthiness of the subjective people.
Anyway, in the end we assume the mission has been (in some way) successful as Amelia has been reunited with Edmunds on his new-found planet, they have set up a camp, and Cooper is on his way to find them.
The killer question: if earth can no longer support human life, is it worth going to this extent to try to preserve the species? Or is it just our egos telling us that we are important enough to be saved?