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The typical space odyssey throws mankind into the arena either with a much more intelligent and evolved species whose involvement is meant to guide us, or with any number of extraterrestrial adversaries, truly "alien" in both their appearances and their ways. The Enterprise took us on a tour of colorful worlds full of humanoid beings who could teach us more about ourselves and more about peace. The Obelisk showed up to nudge us toward technological advancement and progress, for worse or for better. Then the Xenomorph burst onto the scene (forgive the pun), but unfortunately, "In space, no one can hear you scream." Then we borrowed the tall, blue-skinned physical forms of the Na'vi with which to have all manner of adventures among the gorgeous phosphorescent plant life.
The truth is, these exploits are more like fantasy than science fiction. If you want to know what we actually face when it comes to exploring and colonizing other parts of the universe, then start with seeing "Interstellar."
People talk about colonizing Mars like it will happen in the next 15-20 years. And when I say "people," I mean actual scientists. Now it's possible that these "people" that networks find to interview for their programs about the nearness of space colonization are fringe, sensationalist professionals who are eager to be on TV. This seems the case, because before we can live on other planets, we have to find out if suspended animation is actually possible, so that we can live much longer and sleep through the depressingly lengthy space voyages. Before we can do that, we have to figure out a fuel source that will get us that far. And before we can do that, we have to find out how to survive for any length of time outside the protective electromagnetic field around the earth. Without this we would die of radiation exposure within a couple years.
All that being said - aside from all these seemingly insurmountable obstacles - stands the elephant in the room, and that is that individuals who choose to embark on these years-long journeys will inevitably age differently than the loved ones left behind.
That is why "Interstellar" is heavy, sobering, wounding, and breathtaking. It is not only breathtaking in the way Saturn, wormholes, Gargantuan, and five dimensions are imagined and brought to the screen. It is that being reminded our smallness and the fleeting quality of our lives literally steals more and more of your air as you watch the film. You feel older simply from having watched it.
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Then why watch it? Because "Interstellar" poses love as its own dimension. We can build sturdy, versatile ships to carry us through the years into other galaxies, to land on worlds covered in water or ice. We can use transmissions to communicate, and clunky, restrictive space suits to explore hostile environments. But as Anne Hathaway's character, Amelia Brand, says: "Love is the one thing that transcends time and space." As tangible and as real as gravity, is love.
I have come away from "Interstellar" with a new respect - if I ever even had a respect - for the enormous cost of exploration. To be a pioneer is to be lonely. It is to choose progress, knowledge, and discovery over family, home, and safety.
I think any film that can showcase in cold, system-shocking grandeur the vastness of space and then leave you, at the close, with a hunger to be near your loved ones, is a successful film. That is the definition of profound.
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"Interstellar" is not without comic relief, thank goodness, for it is needed. The ex-Marine artificial intelligences that are TARS and CASE, the robots of an ultra-modern construction that assist Brand and Cooper throughout the film, are both entertaining and endearing.
The score consists almost entirely of pipe organ music, invoking cathedral imagery, making the audience feel that it is in a large and empty space. I'm sure it is no accident that organ music was used when historically, cathedrals symbolized a soul's progression toward Sanctification and the spires reached toward the heavens.
"Interstellar" is a meeting place between "Signs," "Contact," and "2001: A Space Odyssey." I highly recommend it!