We just saw Christopher Nolan’s new film. It was a good film, though not his greatest. We were never bored. The story itself was good, though our assumptions about the film’s foundations were sadly correct – even more than correct. They spot-on celebrate everything we find wrong with the post-apocalyptic genre. The pro-natalist leanings are the movie’s downfall and are what kept me from really caring what happened to this version of the human race in general.
Interstellar wasn’t just about saving the humans – it was also about starting it over if necessary. Starting us over.
Some of the humans in the film are prepared to go off and leave everyone on earth and just start over with an “ark” of human eggs and sperm. This plot point was somewhat pathetic (on the characters’ part) but necessary to show the multiple levels of human thinking. It asks the question: What is more important, those already living and suffering or the thought of no humans existing at all?
The other issue we had was the main point to the film – of finding another planet to colonize. If we couldn’t take care of the last one then how dare we feel entitled to another one? Not to mention the fact Nolan conveniently didn’t acknowledge other life on those planets (that I can remember) – only if they did or didn’t support human life.
Another bone we have to pick was on a topic Nolan could have explored more. One of the characters has and loses a child on earth to a sickness the dust storms cause (affecting the lungs). Why the hell would you be having babies when you knew your world was dying? Not only is everyone starving, but they can’t breathe and you think it’s a good idea to bring another oxygen-needing, food-needing human into the world? Huh?
Jessica Chastian’s character asks of her then-in-space dad at one point “Did you leave us here to die?” What it really should have been was, “Why the hell did you bring me into this world, dad?”
But back to the main point. Nolan seems to be very anti-earth in this film, though I don’t know if he meant to be. He likens the struggling farmers trying to feed the population as “caretakers” who are pathetic and without dreams – as if going into space and leaving the human mess behind is the only way to have hope.
Sorry, but no. It is that very escapist outlook that many of the European colonizers had (escape Europe, start over, be in charge of a colony! Never mind the Native Americans who already live here). Leaving earth won’t solve humanity’s problem. It will leave them going from planet to planet like locust, continually throwing things off balance.
I would much rather be a caretaking steward of the earth we do have than have my species blamed for killing off every other species (plant and animal – oh, and not a single animal was seen in the film, by the way. Hm, I WONDER WHY). I would much rather our species be able to fix problems rather than escape them the way Nolan suggests in this film.
Let me give you an example: Instead of leaving a planet that was losing its oxygen, why not have scientists mutate the human body to have them better withstand the nitrogen that was taking over in the film? Why not genetically modify humans to withstand the climate they created? That’s adapting.
Don’t like that one? Well, I have a bunch of hella awesome ideas for the human race in my previous rant.
My point is: There has to be a better way than leaving our mess behind. Leaving is only a temporary solution. We will always have to come back and face our “ghosts” eventually. I don’t want to be a scary ghost. [Spoilers] After all, even in the film, the human race (which now knows more about 5th dimensions and gravity and time and space and is perhaps more evolved (?)) comes “back” to make sure things go right for the human race. Why can’t we just work toward being good ghosts from the beginning? [End Spoilers]
However, I think people will be talking about the topics this film raised for a long time to come. I know we will be.
“Don’t go down so gently…I’m just waiting on you to breathe without permission”
UPDATE 1/18/16: Someone else agrees with me.
[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]