Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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(WARNING: Spoilers Ahead)

Christopher Nolan is known for thinking outside the box. His movies reflect his innovative way of thinking and executing his ideas. All of his movies make you question both the protagonists and the antagonists. Is a person truly evil, or on the other hand, can a person be truly pure? Interstellar explores this question through the theme of detachment.

“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. The Dark Knight explores the moral consequences that being a one-man justice system brings. Inception uses camera trickery to enhance character development. The camera literally turn characters upside down, making it hard for the audience to trust their reality. Interstellar is the most sophisticated film Christopher Nolan has made, and it uses both of these methods to push its agenda. Every character in the film has to make a tough decision at a certain point. No decision in this movie is completely a good or bad decision. It all revolves around detachment.

The movie begins with the character of Cooper being detached from reality. He is dreaming about an accident he had on a space shuttle years ago. He wakes up to a not-so-distant future that has a dying planet. Earth only has a few more years before it is completely uninhabitable. NASA has become a secret and literally underground organization working on a plan to save humanity, so it is also detached from society. NASA has become a secret organization because the world decided to detach from technology to focus on agriculture as a last resort to try to preserve life on Earth. NASA has two plans. Plan A is to figure out a way to send the rest of civilization into space on a giant shuttle to continue life and detach from Earth. Plan B is to find another planet with preserved human embryos to restart the human race. Plan B would mean the destruction of the current human population.

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Professor Brand is the head of NASA. He is the one trying to enlist Cooper’s help. Brand tells Cooper about NASA’s two plans. He knows that plan A is a lie. He cannot figure out the equation to solve the gravity problem that sending a whole population into space entails. Brand chooses to lie to Cooper because he knows Cooper would only leave with the intention of coming back home to his two children. Although it was a terrible lie to tell Cooper, Brand’s lie is eventually the reason humanity is saved. If he did not lie, the mission would have been to let humanity die off and start new with the preserves.

Cooper is the protagonist of this film. His main purpose is to go into space to look for a way to save humanity. To do this, he has to leave his home and his two children. He is told that he could be gone for a minimum of twenty years. His love of being a pioneer and his need to do the right thing forces him to detach from his family. His decision made his children hate him and caused them to detach from him too. It also allowed him to save everyone and continue human existence. If he chose to stay with his family, he would have been able to spend the rest of his life with them as humanity died.

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Both Cooper’s children had to suffer and see their mother die and then their father left for an indefinite amount of time. As years go by, Cooper’s son is supportive, but eventually he detaches from his father and decides that he does not care for his family because it seems that Cooper is never coming back.

Cooper’s daughter Murph detached from him as soon as he told her that he was leaving. She thought that he did not care. At the climax of the film, Murph is on the verge of discovering how to help her father come back home and save humanity. Her brother is completely detached from her and Cooper and is in the way of her saving humanity. She has to choose between burning his farm and destroying the only way they can survive on the planet to help her dad, or leave them alone to live out their lives and at the same time let humanity die. She chooses to burn the farm. Her brother does not forgive her and never regains faith in his dad, but humanity is saved.

There are plenty of other instances in this film that had no right or wrong choice. Every character in the film detaches from something and has to make a choice that has consequences. It is clear that Christopher Nolan wants his audience to see that no one is perfect. There is no such thing as a truly evil person and at the same time there is no such thing as a truly pure person. Every choice has negative and positive outcomes and some may be more negative than positive. Interstellar states that no matter how much science provides us with, the only thing pushing us through all the negative is love because it is the only thing that transcends space and time. As Sherlock once said, “Go along now. I won’t be chasing you anymore. Fare thee well.”

— Miguel Gonzalez, Film Blogger

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