Nolan In-Review: Interstellar

Nolan’s most out-there project was one that failed to inspire excitement in me upon its initial reveal. Not only that, it failed to ignite any excitement in me in the theatre as I watched it for the first time.

“Overlong!” I cried. “Contrived.” I moaned. “An exposition dump”, I critiqued. All of which remain valid criticisms to this day. Yet despite my subdued disappointment in Interstellar, something between it and me felt unfinished. So, upon its Blu-Ray release, I bought it and watched it again… and again… and again.

Six years later, I watched it once more. I cried, I watched mouth agape, I gripped the nearest pillow as I sat on the edge of my couch at home. My fascination with Interstellar is based in my starting inability to understand what it was really about. Hans Zimmer’s score, partnered with a despondent Earth were bogged down by an overly scientific premise, whilst still focusing on the unbreakable bond between a father and his daughter. It felt desperately conflicting, and really skewered my opinion on the film for some time.

Interstellar is Nolan’s most experimental, but as the years passed and the watch counts grew, I suddenly saw my stance change from labelling it a missed opportunity to among Nolan’s best. And all for one sole reason: It is an emotional experience.

Nolan has always lacked in an emotional field, despite having his moments that emotionally resonate. I never truly felt for Cobb in Inception, I never ached over Batman’s losses in The Dark Knight Trilogy, and I never really cared what happened to Leonard in Memento after the credits rolled. Yet sitting down to Interstellar once again, blows the roof off any preconceived notion of a lacking emotionality.

This emotionality isn’t even assigned to its characters, whether that be through a death or tragic situation. It is through Interstellar’s experiential qualities, that allow you to feel every emotion you need to – even if you aren’t quite sure why you are feeling it.

Yes, this movie has its issues, like any other. It has an over-commitment to convincing the audience of its science, and a lack of confidence that they will accept and understand what is happening without having it overtly explained. But like The Dark Knight Rises before it, it is my emotional association that allows me to hold it in such a high regard.

In many ways it feels like a film that only Nolan could have made, as it once again shirks that line between real and surreal, creating this oddball science-fiction that is an amalgamation of a lot of different things bundled up into one single experience.

Whether it be for the launch sequence, the water planet, the docking sequence, the black hole, whatever it may be, each time I watch them I feel something towards them. Sometimes is anguish, others anxiousness, and often a meditative form of relaxation. Interstellar takes me away from my living room every time I watch it to these distant galaxies, and if that’s not the point in cinema, I don’t know what is.

Published by Aaron Bayne

I’m a film and video games journalist based in Scotland. I write stuff about them on my website, talk about them on my podcasts and film videos about them for BBC The Social.

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