Last night I finally saw the movie Interstellar. I had tried to see it when it first came out, but couldn’t seem to fit it in. Now I’m glad I didn’t.
Interstellar begins with a world facing many of the same challenges we find in Parable of the Sower–food shortages, widespread poverty, and a government that has turned its eyes from the stars to the ground, unable to justify money spent on dreams when there are so many problems to be solved in everyday life. And, like Lauren Olamina, Cooper, a former pilot, cannot let it go. His world, he knows is dying, and they are running out of other options. And when coded messages from a “they” no one can seem to identify lead to a covert NASA operation headed by one of Cooper’s former teachers, Cooper leaves everything and everyone he loves–including his 10 year old budding scientist daughter, Murph–behind for the chance to save them.
There are the usual assortment of questions that move the adventure plot forward, including:
- Can they find a new world that can support life before it’s too late?
- Will Cooper make it back to his family?
But the one question that the story most pivots around is one of ethics:
Who do we save, the human race as a species or the individual people we know and love?
The adventure is harrowing, as it must be, to keep us rooted to our seats for nearly three hours, and the decisions are difficult heart-rending , as are the emotional impacts on the families back home. And, as expected, the worlds are nothing like they imagined they might be.
Of course, at the end it they find themselves in crisis, and without giving too much away, it devolves into the sort of strange spiritual mumbo-jumbo that we have seen in other epic space movies, like Contact. But perhaps that’s how it is when science started delving into areas so far beyond our comprehension that they begin to resemble God.
And as for that one big question, perhaps if we are either very, very lucky or very, very unlucky, we just might be able to save both.
Learn more about the science of Interstellar.