I saw Interstellar
this weekend. In IMAX because the film is incredibly beautiful. Everyone talks about the wormhole and the black hole but for me it was Saturn that really took my breath away. I loved all the effects of the ship - from practical ones for zero g to the spin of the Endurance. And of course the blight dust on Earth that sold the whole end of civilization premise. A kind of prelude to The Windup Girl
The blight seemed to be one of those fungi diseases that are the most dangerous to our crops. They can spreads easily because the plant we use are not just monocultures but also often clones. We already've lost the most tasty banana and cacao farms in Brazil to fungal disease. When I was a kid we would burn the dried potato stems in Autumn but now the above the ground part doesn't live long enough. One day this can be our future.
Of course we cannot really change our food sources. There is 7 billion people to feed and the strains we use now where chosen for maximum efficiency. Introducing genetic diversity would most likely make them less productive. So we hope our technology will save us. So this is a story of human spirit and ingenuity and god-like intervention - a strange science and higher power merger - to save human kind. All working together for higher goal - the long road to safe future.
And it is contrasted with short sightedness of people who only think about their own well being and short term comforts that ultimately lead to decline and death. The refusal to even consider more than immediate future and their own safety it might lead to exactly the kind of denial that was the most chilling part of this story. The way that teacher dismissed Moon landing as hoax - it's like the most crackpot deniers got to teach their version in school - just so people don't think of flying when they need to stay to dig in dirt. Even when that's the only thing that can save them.[Musings on main themes - main story SPOILERS]
Murphy is contrasted with her brother. He is a good farmer - someone more useful in the short term survival but ultimately doomed. She is useless in the crucial food production sense but she hold the keys to the long term survival. But they both try to do what is best for their family and in a way they complement each other. When Ben looses his faith in his father Murphy finally starts understand him. His life allows her achieve the final solution - from letting her follow her scientific interests to keeping her room intact. But in the end it's the science that can save us all. From NASA being the only ones looking to the future and actually trying to save everyone instead just delaying the inevitable doom to the ultimate abandoning of Earth for the habitats we make for ourselves. (Also I loved that in the future Murphy Cooper is the science hero and her father, brother and professor Brand are background men who made it possible - footnotes in her story - one day we may get see that story filmed.)
This was also the story of sacrifice and what you have to do despite the cost and then ultimate reward. About the dichotomy between personal need and the need of all and how sometimes they can be reconciled. When Coop leaves his family it's also between their immediate suffering and their ultimate safety. Coop picks the long goal every time - leaves his daughter even though she begs him not to, goes down to Miller's planet despite time dilation, shoots down Brads ramblings about love to out vote her on the planet of choice and sacrifices himself at the end to let humanity live and gets all his wishes - safety of his family and survival of human race.
While Mann breaks and picks his survival over the human race. He was the best of them all, an inspiration to all the other explores and he broke down when confronted with the reality of it. He fell. He lies and tries to kill them and sprouts excuses because he's unable to confront his own failings and dies due to it. Right above his own frozen hell. In many ways it's a parable on morality where good deeds and selflessness are rewarded and the bad ones are punished.
I knew the moment Coop got those coordinates they were sent so he could go to space. When it turned out NASA didn't do it on purpose I knew that they came from the future - he already went on that mission so he had to have the information to get there. I wasn't sure if he sent it himself or if future humans did it. It turned out it was both. I also suspected from the very first mention that the wormhole was put there by the future humans there - if gravity can be manipulate through time who has a more motivation to save human race than human race? They were ensuring their own future as Coop was ensuring his.
Of course I didn't like everything. My biggest issue was with the sound. It often drowned out the dialogue so I was wishing I was back in Poland so there'd be subtitles. Some of it contained important information so I think a lot of issues people have with plot may come from missing pieces of exposition.
Everything else here is mostly nitpicking - you don't really care much watching because the film takes up too much of your attention and it's science fiction
anyway. But it's pretty hard sf, one of hardest on film, so science inadequacies feel more pronounced here than in, let's say, Star Wars
.[Very Big SPIOLERS]
I hated Brand's ramblings about love as 5th dimension that changes universe or something. Biology and evolution don't work like that and movies always butcher those even worse than physics. I loved when Coop dismisses it and she got outvoted even though I knew it meant for sure she was right. luckily she was only literally right about the planet. The whole love thing was figurative.
A lot of people seemed to misunderstand that and think love was the 5D and saved Coop and created the connection through time and space but that's not true. Love wasn't 5th dimension. It had nothing to do with surviving black hole or physics. That was something the 5th dimensional beings did. They created the tesseract of all moments of Murphy's room so Coop could send the data TARS collected (something quantum or other). That data was what finally saved the second part of the equation that allowed for combining gravity and quantum mechanics to find a way lift all the people and materials they need to survive off Earth (there wasn't enough rockets or fuel to do it traditional way so they would all die). This allowed humanity to build the vast habitats a safely live in space.
Love was only used to find when to get that data to Murphy. It was used for social interaction - Coop knew Murphy so he knew which moment to use to give her the information and what to use so she'd understand what it is. Love is used just to understand human psychology. It has no effect on the physics. Because Coop loved Murphy he knew when to give the data to her and what to use so she would understand it and receive it. The 5D beings/future humans didn't know where(&when) to send it without him. If she missed it or misunderstood it it'd all be in vain. It had nothing to do with physics or 5th dimension.It had nothing to do with physics and all to do with human interaction. Which is were love belongs so I was fine with it.
All the exotic physics - wormhole, survival of black hole, tesseract, even the gravity used to communicate with Murph is supplied by 5D beings. Love is only used for understanding human psychology so the right moment could be picked for transferring information.
I had much bigger issues with the fact that they had to go down on all those planets to find out what was wrong with them. Didn't the probes measured temperature and atmosphere contents? Why didn't Endurance have instruments do do this? Why didn't the Lazarus people just transmit this - it couldn't get through the wormhole but it could help the coming ship from Earth prepare for choosing the right place to land? They all seem to have ships that could travel around the planet (Mann did) so wouldn't it make sense to leave couple of satellites on the orbit to get a clue about surface so you can pick the safe spot on the planet. In fact a lot of problems could've been avoided if the Lazarus people would spent some time orbiting and researching their planets before landing. You know, like we do in real life. I hate it when drama just comes from people being stupid. Especially when we are told they are really smart.
I know the black whole was modelled very carefully on actual equations by Kip Thorne and that the star light was a star smeared over the event horizon. And the wormhole entrance seems to be pretty neat representation of how that could look like. But I'm not sure some of those things would actually work the way they are shown. Like the first planet - the tides are pretty neat and obvious with a planet so close to a back holes but everything else? Would it even survive the tidal forces so close to black hole that one hour equals seven years? I know gravity weakens in square ratio with distance but is this really fast enough that, just in a little further orbit (they flew there in back with an orbiter), it was 23 years for Endurance? I'm not good enough at physics to check this without hours of research but all that could've all been solved with above points.
How does the frozen clouds work? How come dr. Mann, someone with knowledge and experience in space travel, wouldn't know what will happen if he depressurised an airlock like that? I knew that. And they didn't tell him - they just tell him not to do it. You start with the "like an explosion" part in a case like this. And finally how come they needed giant rocket to get off Earth but the lander can get them off 1.3 g Miller's planet?
Also why Coop had to sneak out to get to Brand? Shouldn't habitat humans send someone to get her - or at least tell her plan A worked - the moment Coop woke up and told them she was still out there? They had the resources. This whole thing of her (and even her and Coop) being parents to (other Galaxy) whole human race was kind of creepy. Or maybe those habitats are going to Edmunds planet too. Just slowly because they are big. That's much better ending.
And the weak point that probably is more important to non-science people is that TARS was the best character in the whole movie. The jokes, banter, saving single humans and humanity as a whole. Now that I think about it I'm convinced TARS is the future 5D being - the ultimate god-like AI.