wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
Interstellaris a gargantuan film - in vision, scale, thought as well as runtime. It calls for patience and intelligence, which aren't always in ready supply. But it is also an intriguing film that makes you think. It may dazzle you, confound you or annoy you; but Nolan's latest is sure to affect you.Read more
Update: I watched the film again in IMAX and thought I should share my experience.
Chris Nolan shot a few scenes of The Dark Knight and nearly 45 minutes of The Dark Knight Rises in the IMAX format. In Interstellar, he went a step further, with a substantial chunk of the movie being shot in the large film format that Nolan is so fond of. There's a reason for it - true IMAX, with its incredible screen size, great sound and the film projection system (not digital like the IMAX screens in other cities of India), is easily the most immersive film viewing format currently. Some shots of Interstellar, particular the space exploration parts, look absolutely stunning in IMAX. To experience all of them one after the other is humbling. Then again, with the large format, it seems some of the flaws of the film get equally amplified. Still, IMAX is definitely the format to watch the film in, even though such a small percentage of us actually have access to it.
Humankind may have evolved into a greedy, complex species that is devouring our planet, with only vestiges of the once-inexhaustable thirst for knowledge that set us apart from our co-inhabitants on earth. Yet, perhaps that is the single greatest gift that we've received - curiousity, the urge to know, the tendency to seek an answer to every question we come across.
We're travellers and explorers. Our journeys may be literal or figurative, (the quest to solve Fermat's Last Theorem, for instance, was also a journey,) but our inherent goal has always been just one - to go further and further into the depths of the unknown. That's all that has truly excited the human race, not routines and the mundane, decadent lifestyles we see today.
Christopher Nolan's Interstellaris a journey. Not only does he take us on an unfathomable ride along with his protagonist Cooper, but he also makes us journey inwards, to seek what we don't yet know about ourselves. Yes, a crash course in physics would go a long way in making the film easier to follow, but the emotions at the heart of the film are primal. They may or may not find their way into that spot in your heart that will make them resonate with you, but that's besides the point. The question, ultimately, is about Nolan's intent.
Interstellaris far richer in emotions than Nolan's previous work - so much so that the emotional core is one of the cornerstones of the film. How much the emotions touch you is a big measure of how much you're willing to move past the vagaries and ostensible foibles of the film - which appear to be many.
Set in the distant future, where Earth seems incapable of being a viable home for humanity for much longer, NASA recruits a former astronaut to lead a mission into space, to find an alternate home to ensure the continued survival of our species. The problems of space and time - the biggest hurdles in accessing the outer reaches of our universe - are solved by a curious wormhole.
Nolan doesn't thrust the science upon us right away. We begin by observing the state of the world, through the eyes of Cooper and his family. We see the relationship he has with his children - particularly with his daughter. Nolan, like most filmmakers, uses his characters to voice his own thoughts often, so it's interesting to see Cooper encourage his children to also question and analyze.
The space travel and exploration aspects, though obviously forming the bulk of the film, begin much later. It is here that some knowledge of the physics that the film references would be of immense use in following the events that occur. Relativity, wormholes, black holes, gravity, the works - for those whom all of this is alien and incomprehensible, the film will only be a plodding, indulgent mystery. The deeper the understanding of the physics in question, the more gripping the film becomes.
Through it all, the overarching presence of love never leaves. Love, it seems, transcends both space and time, almost holding the cosmos together. Nolan isn't particularly adept at filming drama, so the film's weakest moments are when characters stop to talk about love or to express it. The scenes are earnest, but a tad bit awkward. The film's most jaw-dropping moments are bang in the midst of the space exploration, where some of Hoyte van Hoytema's magnificent frames are a spectacle to behold.
Chris Nolan's most well-known trope - his penchant for the non-linear narrative - once again forms the backbone of the film. Except, this time because he's playing with dimensions higher than those to which our earthly presences are bound, there is likely to be more than the usual amount of confusion about exactly what happened and when. The film warrants repeat viewings, quite like every other film in his filmography.
Hans Zimmer always seems to set aside something special for Chris Nolan, and this time is no different. The music score of Interstellaris a hypnotic masterwork - what it lacks in variation, it makes up for in sheer ambition. In fact, the sound design of the film overall plays a huge role in gnawing at your attention. The use of silence in space, particularly in the face of the rapturous visual grandeur on display, is humbling.
The film's biggest weakness is its runtime. At nearly 3 hours, it can be a test of patience for those who switch off at melodrama or science. However, for those who don't have a problem with either, every minute of the film is a treat, because there's always something happening. Everything is connected, everything has meaning, nothing is there just because of a whim of a sagacious filmmaker.
Interstellarwas shot in the IMAX format, which is quite different in size and aspect ratio to the regular 35mm Cinemascope that we're used to. So obviously, the film is best watched in the largest screen one can find (the IMAX screen in Hyderabad for instance; the only true IMAX in the country). But the scale of the visuals is trumped by the scale of Chris Nolan's vision, so Interstellarwill make for an out-of-the-ordinary phenomenon on any screen.
Some of humanity's greatest achievements have been finding the answers to questions that confounded generations, and these answers came as a reward after many moons of toil. Patience, it seems, is always rewarding. Interstellaris quite like that. As it twists around time, space and everything in between, it rewards you for patience, attention and curiosity. It also serves a measure of these for each individual, because like all of cinema, Interstellarisn't for everyone.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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