Interstellar and losing the magnetic chain of humanity
For those of you who haven't seen interstellar yet, this entry will be riddled with spoilers, so go see the movie and come back to read this later
Every now and then I see a movie that at its very nature is something entirely different than what I expected, and typically what was advertised (for better or for worse), Interstellar, is one of those movies. On the surface it is a science-fiction adventure movie about exploring space and saving the human race from itself or the dieing planet or both depending on how you look at it... but although the plot of the story is about just that, the movie itself (at least as it was presented to me) is all about human relationships. It is this second topic that made the movie more substantive then your typical space action-thriller movie, and it is precisely why I enjoyed the movie as much as I did.
I wrote some of these down to illustrate my point thinking about the movie, and this is the short list, from the top of my head:
- father-daughter (Murph)
- father-son (Tom)
- Humanity - (Plan A and the unbreakable human spirit)
- daughter-father (Cooper)
- student-mentor (Prof Brand)
- son-father (Cooper)
- father-son (children)
- Humanity (faith in the Earth, i.e. farming)
- Father Daughter (Dr. Brand)
- Mentor-pupil (Murph)
- Humanity (Plan A to cover for the Despair of Plan B)
- Humanity (Plan B - practical reality and sustainability)
- Woman-Man ( Dr. Wolff)
- Woman-Man (Cooper- implied at the end at least)
- Daughter-Father (Professor Brand)
- Humanity (Plan B but in some sense, hope instead of despair).
First, there are lots of relationship stories being told here and so if you're trying to connect with these characters the movie is a real rollercoaster ride of emotions. But the one relationship that has brought me the most intrigue is the relationship between ones self and that of humanity. Originally, by fault of cognitive bias, I thought that this day and age that we live in allows us to think about such deep things as this. In part, because we can actually foresee the potential end of our world not just imagined... but planetoid annihilations, extinction and their spiritual counterparts have long since been a part of literature, and philosophy basically since self-awareness... and I first realized this with the not so subtle character reference of Professor Brand....
Professor Brand, aptly shares the last name with Ethan Brand from the short story of the same name by one of my favorite authors Nathaniel Hawthorne. So I reread Ethan Brand, and it really cannot be coincidence, that the biggest betrayal of interstellar, the fallacy of Plan A, is the manifestation of despair in humans and the commission of the unpardonable sin. It was Professor Brand that had given up and he lived the lie for forty years, because he had lost his grounding of the 'magnetic chain of humanity.'
And what was the big problem throughout, and ultimately the solution to communication... Gravity. Now take that gem, and read the passage from Ethan Brand below, applying it to Professor Brand. It seems like the two are peas in a pod, what do you think?
"The Idea that possessed his life had operated as a means of education; it had gone on cultivating his powers to the highest point of which they were susceptible; it had raised him from the level of an unlettered laborer to stand on a star-lit eminence, whither the philosophers of the earth, laden with the lore of universities, might vainly strive to clamber after him. So much for the intellect! But where was the heart? That, indeed, had withered--had contracted--had hardened--had perished! It had ceased to partake of the universal throb. He had lost his hold of the magnetic chain of humanity. He was no longer a brother-man, opening the chambers or the dungeons of our common nature by the key of holy sympathy, which gave him a right to share in all its secrets; he was now a cold observer, looking on mankind as the subject of his experiment, and, at length, converting man and woman to be his puppets, and pulling the wires that moved them to such degrees of crime as were demanded for his study"
Lastly, I'd like to add, that although I found this one relationship to be the most compelling, the others are equally poignant, and I'd be glad to talk about some of them if anyone cares to hear about them. Let me know!
The full text of Hawthorne's Ethan Brand is available online at: http://www.eldritchpress.org/nh/eb.html
images credit to IMDB.com