Interstellar Main One Sheet QUAD
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine and Mackenzie Foy
In UK Cinemas November 7th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

Just because it’s the first major Hollywood drama set in space since Gravity, doesn’t mean Interstellar should undergo any comparisons to Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece.  So nearly a masterpiece in its own right, Interstellar falls just short of this accolade due to its length, occasional ropey dialogue, some truly absurd ideas, and most of all its sound mix.

Let’s just get this out of the way – what was on everyone’s mind coming out of the Interstellar screening I attended was the sound.  Beautiful innovative sound design techniques depicting the desolation of the post-modern Earth contrasting with the deafening silence of space, are lost in the mix.  Deafening music and distorted sound effects take prominence so much so that lines of dialogue are lost.  Unless I watch this film with subtitles, I will forever be missing some key lines that are completely drowned out.  From what I understand, this is not any cinema’s fault, but the mix of the film itself.  If this is the case, whatever the mix’s intentions may be, never should sound be so distracting in a film that it not only detracts from immersion, but hinders the narrative and leaves the audience frustrated and confused about why anyone would actually turn the volume up to 11.

What is most frustrating about this audio issue is that without it, perhaps this film could be the most profound and interesting Sci Fi film to date.  All of the fantastical elements are grounded in scientific and mathematical reality, with director Nolan employing great minds to produce the scientific research necessary to as realistically as possible visually recreate the effect of worm and black holes.  The visuals are stunning and mind-bending.  Without allowing for spoilers, that is as much as I can say about space.

Earth is also stunning.  Nolan loves his in-camera effects much more than post-production VFX, which is very much worth the effort.  Dust, dirt, desolation are all brought to life in an Earth on its last legs.  Corn is the only crop left and Cooper (McConaughey) and his family tend to their share on their farm.  A former NASA pilot, Cooper has a strong bond with his daughter Murphy (Foy) which is due to their mutual interest in science.  When Cooper is given a chance to travel into space in order to save humanity, Murphy begs him to stay and doesn’t forgive him for leaving.

Cooper’s space mission alongside Amelia Brand (Hathaway) and two other scientists is a complicated one, but its purpose is to save the human race.  Cooper’s motivation is to save the world for his daughter, and underdeveloped son character, but time is not on his side as the theory of relativity goes, time on Earth will run faster than Cooper’s in space.  His daughter could perhaps be the same age as him upon his return, if he does indeed return.

Cooper’s daughter Murphy is the true star of this film and story.  Mackenzie Foy is a revelation as the young prodigal daughter, a character who according to Jessica Chastain, was originally written as a male until Christopher Nolan joined his brother Jonathan in the writing of the script.  Chastain seamlessly takes over the role of Murph in adult life and becomes the emotional anchor this narrative desperately needs.  With all that is going on in space and time, it is Murphy on Earth who is on everybody’s minds.  It’s nice to see a strong female character in a Christopher Nolan film, with Hathaway as Amelia Brand as another example.  While McConaughey is the obvious main hero of this film, the two main females are the true heroes of this story.

Bigger than a story, Interstellar is about ideas and concepts.  In spite of its grounding in math and physics, the film often dials up the ‘Fi’ in Sci Fi and at times feels more at home in the realm of fantasy over science. Overall, the film has interesting ideas, fantastic visuals and a loud score.  It is definitely a film worth viewing, as long as the cinema provides earplugs & subtitles.


One Response to “Interstellar”

  1. ewen says:

    I saw the movie in 2 different theatre, 35 mm and Imax and had absolutely no problem to understand the dialogue, and english is not my native language (as you can see). No deafening music, no distorted sound fx…. it looks like there was a technical issue at your screening. It is one of the best soundtrack this year… Go back to listen to it !

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