Interstellar’s mind-wrenching effects on our perceptions


Grace Waligora is a student at The King’s College in New York City. She wrote this film review for Eng 412: Persuasive Writing & Speaking.  Christopher Nolan’s newest mind-wrenching action movie gives a plot as complicated and vast as space itself leaving viewers feeling as if they too just emerged from a wormhole.

Like many other Americans who are Dark Knight and Inception fans, I saw Christopher Nolan’s latest science fiction blockbuster Interstellar on opening weekend. I spent 169 minutes (nearly three hours) experiencing what it would be like to be propelled though wormholes to galaxies’ far, far away, where the biggest threat is not aliens, but time. I left the theater, shaking at the vastness of space and texting all of my friends, telling them that they had to see this movie. Similar to Nolan’s other films, The Prestige (2006) and Inception (2010), Interstellar leaves you with an instant feeling of awe and adrenaline without a real understanding of what you experienced.

The film is set in a futuristic world, where sandstorms wipe out crops, and kids are told by age 14 whether college or farming is their future. If the story explains how the earth got to be this way, it is too subtle to catch, but stopping for exposition would have only added to the length of this already long film, and an explanation from one of the characters in the middle of their daily life would have seemed unnatural. We do know that whatever caused the earth to become this way happened not too long ago because Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) was an engineer and spaceship pilot before this crisis caused him to start farming.

The plot accelerates when Cooper and his daughter, Murph, stumble onto a NASA headquarters, where they learn that the earth will not be able to sustain human life for much longer. NASA quickly recruits Cooper to pilot a spacecraft to a new galaxy where there is hope for a new planet that can sustain human life.  Cooper and Brand (Anne Hathaway) are soon in space, and attempt to battle relativity in order to return home to their loved ones while still saving all of mankind.

In the same way the plot asks you to accept the futuristic earth without the exposition of how and why it got that way, the film also asks you to simply accept the choices the astronauts make on their mission along with most of the science involved in space travel.

For most of the movie I understood what was going on but I did not necessarily understand the reasons why. I knew they needed to go to this one planet and that time ran differently there, but I did not get why. I knew that Michael Caine’s character needed to solve an equation that made it possible for humans to leave earth, but I did not understand the equation. However, McConaughey and Hathaway create characters with enough depth that you believe that they know what they are doing, even when you have no idea.

The setting of the film adds to its confusing nature. Space is vast and complicated. Wormholes and relativity are barely understood by the most advanced scientists, much less the average Batman fan. So when the NASA experts in the movie refer to an ominous THEY who left the wormhole for them, the audience does not roll their eyes but instead accepts the idea, because why not?  Space is crazy.

After reflecting on the film for a few days I came to a conclusion: Not everyone should see Interstellar. It is a rather long film and it is easy to get confused and not follow what’s going on. So if you have never been a fan of any sort of science fiction, if you dislike being confused in movies, or if you’ve never been a fan of Christopher Nolan’s work—don’t seeInterstellar. But if you are OK with suspending your own understanding and want to experience a fantastic ride through space and be left breathless, then you should check it out.


Science Fiction/ Adventure

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writers: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan

Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain