The Sunday Salon: On watching Interstellar

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Sunday 
Salon.com

Yesterday, we went to watch Interstellar. The husband is a big science fiction fan. Me? Not so much. I don't feel drawn to them, but inexplicably, I have enjoyed almost every science fiction movie I have watched. Go figure. So I knew that even if I didn't know anything about this movie (Fact: I actually didn't), I would be able to enjoy it. You know, it's like reading one of those books without worrying about the blurb because you are so sure you will enjoy the book because the cover is fantastic or the title is very unique.

Before going for Interstellar, I should have however checked who the director was. Christopher Nolan isn't exactly know for making straightforward movies. He is going to bend your head in a few directions, jolt your seats haphazardly a few times, and smirk at your nowhere-close-to-the-truth theories with a rebounder. Plus, if you miss the dialogue anywhere, you have just missed something crucial. For someone like me, who was born with hearing damage, following the dialogue is a big challenge. After every dialogue- or voiceover-laden movie I watch, I have to tag someone along after the movie and pound him/her with questions. It's really difficult to do this when everyone is awestruck at the brilliance of the movie and I am still asking the Whats and the Whens. But you don't get to 30 years with hearing troubles and embarrassments without learning how to be a little cunning with your questions, so that you get your answers without anyone wondering "But, didn't you just watch that whole movie with me?".




Luckily the husband knows to dedicate the few hours after any movie for my Q&A sessions. Normally, by the end of a movie, I do have a grasp of the nuts and bolts of the story while missing out on some of its salient aspects. With Interstellar, I pretty much missed out on everything, until the end, by when I figured out what the missions were about and why it was such a big deal. This is a movie I needed subtitles for. The movie starts off in a dry storm plagued-, crops routinely blighted- future society where technology and science are given no importance and people struggle to put food on the table. Cooper, a pilot turned farmer, somehow stumbles upon the coordinates of a secret NASA facility that has been sending space explorers to find planets that would support subsistence, and is just sending its fourth and last mission out. Cooper joins Amelia Brand on this fourth mission, and we finally leave Earth, about 45 minutes into the movie, and get into space. For the next two hours, they cruise through wormholes and planets that have higher gravitational force than earth thereby slowing time down heavily, and even black holes. While Cooper stays young and handsome and tries to find answers in space, his daughter, Murph, is trying to solve complex chalkboard-spanning equations so that these people can come come back to earth. Interstellar is clearly a very ambitious movie, based on several as-yet unproven scientific theories about time as a separate dimension, gravity affecting aging, and wormholes speeding travel between two different solar systems. For a good part of the movie, there is an unexplained "they" who set up these phenomena so that earth people can travel across systems, and by the end, almost three hours later, we learn who "they" are, it's either the most clever piece of the movie or the most WTH piece, depending on your outlook. I thought it was pretty cool actually, though my 1+1=2 brain is struggling to comprehend it fully.

I did put together most of the puzzles by the end. But like Memento and Inception, I would have enjoyed the movie more if I could follow it scene by scene, rather than in the drive back home. (That shouldn't be a problem for most people however.) And yet, by the time I understood the movie, I loved it. It has made me want to rewatch it once it comes on DVD so that I can actually follow the dialogue. Next time I go to a movie, I need to see if I can get one of those closed caption devices that looks like a 3D glass. I am not a fan of devices I need to wear on my ears or eyes, but I love watching movies with subtitles - I just have to remember not to laugh too early when something funny shows up as captions before I actually see it on screen.

15 comments:

Bryan G. Robinson said...

While I haven't had hearing damage from birth like you, I somewhat can relate to what you're saying. Over the last few months, I have developed tinnitus (not sure why, but allergy medicine is helping, but not doing away with it completely) and I prefer subtitles too. I don't think I'd go to see this in the theater because I don't think I could follow it either. However, I'm glad you enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing it -- and reading it -- when it comes out on DVD. :)

Trish said...

I have been hearing so many amazing things about this one. I knew it was coming out in November but it doesn't seem like it should be November yet and I totally forgot that it was out! I skipped most of your description because I don't want to know anything about it going into it but I'm sorry about the troubles you experienced. In the end I'm glad you enjoyed it--maybe a second watch would allow you to simply enjoy it.

Diane D said...

My husband is big into everything space related as well and wants to see this movie. Glad it was good. We went to see Birdman and although the acting was great, it wasn't my kind of movie.

bermudaonion(Kathy) said...

Yeah, Vance is interested in this movie but I'm pretty sure it's not for me.

S.G. Wright said...

My husband & I saw the movie too on Saturday. I agree the dialogue especially toward the beginning is hard to catch. But as it went on I became more drawn to the story. It's definitely a discussion starter on the ride home! I thought this one easier to understand than Memento and Inception & better. But I did have questions for my husband on it. But I got it

literaryfeline said...

I haven't yet decided if I want to see this movie, although your review of it has me more interested than the trailer did. :-) I generally like science fiction films, but this one seemed more drama oriented to me based on the trailer I saw, which I think is what turned me off. Not that I dislike dramas. I like them just fine. If I do see this one, it will likely be when it is out on DVD.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I watch everything with subtitles. I know it's not everyone's thing, but I love them. I don't miss any lines if there is a siren outside or I am eating something crunchy! It's the best!

AlyceR said...

I don't have hearing loss, but I've been watching TV with subtitles ever since my kids were babies and very light sleepers. I love that I get the visual backup because I don't always hear everything, especially with unusual accents (like the new Doctor on Doctor Who). My main question is, does it have any scenes with people getting sick due to space travel? Because that's a deal breaker for me. I love sci-fi movies, but don't see most of them in the theater because I'm so tense in anticipation of feeling sick from a surprise scene that I don't enjoy them. My husband usually previews the DVDs for me because he's a dear and kind man.

Athira / Aths said...

Yes, seeing and reading it is correct! :-) It did take me until the end to finally grasp what was happening and so I admit to nearly falling asleep during the first couple of hours of the movie. I will definitely be looking for this one in DVD when it comes out.

Athira / Aths said...

I am thinking of going for a second watch maybe next week but this time watch with the subtitles device, because I can't believe I didn't know about it until recently plus it would be an awesome option for me if it really works great.

Meg said...

My husband and I went to see this over the weekend -- and loved it! He's a scientist and I am . . . well, not, so I would have also benefited from subtitles, I think. :) We spent at least an hour after the movie talking about scientific theories, space and relativity, and it was definitely thought-provoking. Pretty epic. And the visuals! Very cool.

Meg said...

Though that water world freaked. me. out.

Meg said...

If I may pop in, there were scenes where a character has to take Dramamine for feeling sick -- but I don't remember anyone getting physically ill. I'm a pretty skittish movie-watcher and I did not feel nervous anticipating anything gruesome/sick.

AlyceR said...

Thanks Meg!

Ti Reed said...

I hope to see this one.