The Sunday Salon: On watching Interstellar
Sunday, November 9, 2014
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.