Is the Blockbuster "Interstellar" A Fundamentally Religious Film?


(system) #1

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway’s "Interstellar," a Hollywood Sci-Fi adventure film, echoed religious themes and raised questions about the existence of God. The film is set at a time when planet Earth is near death; its resources are nearly depleted, and if something does not change soon, all of Earth’s inhabitants will die. McConaughey’s character Cooper, a single parent of two children, is offered the opportunity to save humanity by embarking on a space exploration. His goal is to find a new world that will sustain human life.

Space’s mysterious vastness often elicits questions about the origin of life. What else is out there? Are we alone? How did we get here? As Cooper ventures deeper into the unknown, another question is posed: If there is something or someone out there, why are they not helping us?

Cooper’s love for his children fuels his urgency to find a new home for Earth’s populace, even if that means leaving his children behind for an extended time. His hope is that the sacrifice will ultimately grant them their survival.

Cooper’s daughter, Murph, is devastated that her father is leaving her behind. She is desperately worried that her father will not return back to Earth during her lifetime—not unlike Christians waiting for Christ’s second coming.

The theme of love and sacrifice persists throughout, coming together to create some of the strongest emotions of the film. As Cooper works for the good of his children, he finds he is often met with their judgment and misunderstanding of his mission. Is this similar to how we sometimes view God, with limited vision and understanding?

Director Christopher Nolan worked with Oscar-wining composer Hans Zimmer to create an all-encompassing experience for moviegoers. From sweeping shots of inky space to beautifully mastered musical scores, it is not hard to imagine Cooper’s experience as he plunges deeper into space’s unknown depths.

After a crucial, mid-film climax, the crew aboard the space shuttle changes their focus from trying to find a “they” out in space that might help them to relying on themselves. The shift from looking for help to helping themselves is a significant one that begs the question: can humans save themselves?

A leap of faith drops Cooper into a fifth dimension, where he exists as a being that is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. His greatest epiphany occurs when he realizes his love is the tool that can transcend the barriers of time and space.

While the film is built upon the principles of science, scientific exploration, and science fiction solutions to Earth’s failing environment, it is the Godly qualities of love, faith, and sacrifice that enable Cooper and his crew to, quoting the movie’s anthem, “rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas) and work toward a resolution.

While the film’s religious themes may not always be front and center, they are interwoven throughout. If you have approximately three hours to spare, "Interstellar" is a worthwhile journey.

Rachel Logan is a writing intern for Spectrum.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6425

(Brenda ) #2

I think Nolan allowed each viewer to find their own meaning in the film, but to me, what resonated the most was the message that humans can save themselves. To me this film was saying: what is the need of a God, when we can solve our own problems?
nonetheless I enjoyed the film, and was also able to find some worth while themes about love and sacrifice.


(Rheticus) #3

The special effects of the worm hole and the black hole were good

The science and the politics and the psychology were rubbish

The characters were the usual Hollywood nonsense of overly-emotional overly-hopeful stupid people

Consider this: The future of humanity depends on solving a set of gravity equations, so the only person NASA has working on it is a decrepit old professor. We have more brainpower than that dedicated to writing any one videogame.

If you really need saving, you don’t want someone who breaks into emotional “I love you, so doing this absolutely stupid unpredictable thing has got to save you”.

It is a glorified version of the “My wife has been shot so I am going to sit here and cry and hold her RATHER THAN STOPPING THE BLEEDING AND GETTING AN AMBULANCE” that Hollywood puts in most of their trash.

Don’t waste your money going to this movie, like I did.


(Rheticus) #4

ps: Some go to movies and ignore the huge holes in the plot and the stupid choices of the actors and enjoy the “here is a problem, here is a person doing something emotional because of it”. If you, like Rachel Logan and Brenda, are such a person then you will enjoy this movie like the two people I went with did.

If, like me, you care about coherent plot, realistic portrayal of pilots and scientists, and consistent levels of technology, you’ll have more of my reaction above


(le vieux) #5

Why do we care? Phil 4:8.


(Marianne Faust) #6

bevin, you are really funny…guess I won’t go…but I fear this side of me might also be a weekness sometimes…


(Ron Corson) #7

What movie did you see? Omnipresent…hardly he is in one place, and can’t even get into the room (time seems limited as well), The only way he could do anything was his connection to the robot who was far more omnipotent and knowing. Sadly that part was critical to the movie but not very workable. but otherwise a good movie which kept people interest even though running about 2 hours and 45 minutes which is considerable amount of time!