5 Reasons to be Excited for Interstellar
Set for a release of November this year, Interstellar looks to be Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film yet. Not much is known about the production due to Nolan’s secrecy, something he seems to be notorious for because of his belief that the best cinematic experiences are generated from the unexpected. Aside from the vague teaser trailer which focuses on man’s accomplishments, the only information generally known regarding the film’s plot is that it will follow a group of scientists and explorers as they journey through a newly discovered wormhole, with the possible involvement of time travel and alternative dimensions.
The film will star a list of promising names, the likes of which include; Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Bill Irwin and Michael Cane. Hans Zimmer will score the film too, possibly the most promising name of all. However, this will mark Nolan’s first film without the cinematography of Wally Pfister since 1998’s Following. It’ll certainly be interesting to instead see a collaboration with Hoyte van Hoytema. Despite the watertight secrecy of the production, the small amount that we do know, coupled with Nolan’s history and previous works, means Interstellar can be anticipated with high hopes. Here are five reasons why.
You only have to look at every film Nolan has made since Insomnia to see his undeniable ambition. It’s clear that he seems to be trying to one-up himself with every successive project and Interstellar will be no different. The problem with large-scale productions (particularly today) is that narrative depth is often sacrificed for spectacle. Nolan is critically acclaimed and respected partly because of his awareness that the two can not only co-exist but work in each other’s favour. The Dark Knight showcased some truly awe-inspiring big action sequences yet still holds its own near the top of IMDb’s Top 250. Similarly, Inception may have sounded far too ambitious on paper but its execution meant it was easily one of the better films of 2010.
It seems that the ambitious nature of his projects is one of the more significant aspects that makes them so successful. Without ambition in regards to complexity of production, films like Inception may not have been as appealing to a more casual audience. Similarly, interest in two sequels of a Batman reboot may not have existed were it not for the ambition and subsequent execution of Batman Begins.
4. Matthew McConaughey
After what looked to be a dying career in a string of bad film after bad film, Matthew McConaughey did the unthinkable and turned himself into one of the most acclaimed actors of today. It’s not that he was ever a poor actor; he just seemed to have been type-cast in a series of less-than-mediocre rom-coms. Out of nowhere, he turned his career around which led to his first Oscar nomination for 2014’s Dallas Buyer’s Club. Alongside his mesmerising portrayal of Ron Woodroof, McConaughey also has Magic Mike, The Wolf of Wall Street and Mud (also the film that brought McConaughey to Nolan’s attention) to add to his catalogue of brilliant performances from the last number of years.
How will he fare under the direction of Nolan? Who knows. We can be optimistic about it though because they are two of the better workers in the film industry today. With little being known about the role itself, it’s difficult to predict what he’ll bring to it. What we do know is that Nolan tends to get undeniably amazing results from his actors even when a role is given to an actor that doesn’t appear to me a correct match. Just look at Heath Ledger.
3. CGI and IMAX
It’s no secret that Nolan prefers to not use CGI when the same effect can be achieved physically, believing elements that haven’t been shot feel too much like animation (look towards the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Is it a film? Is it a videogame?). However, when it is utilised in his work, it is done so with stunning results. The Prestige is a film that relied on its character construction and narrative complexity to be a success and it quite rightly was so. Yet the tiny hint of CGI that it did showcase enhanced it greatly, making particular scenes even more dramatic. Even Inception, a film dominated by (literal) dream-sequences clocked in with 500 visual effects shots, an impressively small number compared to films of a similar caliber which typically use 1,500-2,000 visual effect shots.
Conversely, he seems to use the IMAX format to shoot whenever necessary. The only problem with shooting whole features with IMAX cameras is their notoriety for being too noisy; an obvious problems for more subtle, dialogue-driven scenes. But sequences that are shot in the format have much more of an impact. The opening scene of The Dark Knight feels a lot more dangerous because of how epic and grand IMAX makes it. Due to its nature, Interstellar is likely to use more CGI than Nolan’s usual ventures but there’s no doubt it’ll be a brilliant supplement, particularly to the sequences shot in IMAX. Speaking of sequences shot in IMAX, Nolan strapped a camera to the front of a jet for certain shots. That alone will probably generate a good amount of buzz and curiosity for the film.
What better way to exhibit an emphasis on realism than the Dark Knight trilogy? Not only are physical effects favoured over their computer-generated counterparts, but the comic-book characters are given a human depth unmatched in any other superhero movie(s). On top of this is a conglomeration of very real themes throughout the course of the three films; corruption, greed, terrorism and vengeance. It’s clear that Nolan likes to make films that are as realistic as can be, regardless of subject matter. The same can be said for The Prestige in which a story about competition between two stage magicians explores darker themes of human sacrifice, secrecy, (perceived) infidelity and obsession, as well as the incorporation of a genuine rivalry between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Inception hinges on the idea of corporate greed, something all too familiar in today’s world.
Realism is a reason to positively anticipate Interstellar because it is an exploration of concepts that are still far out of the reach of human knowledge. This is typically the case with science-fiction (the genre’s name is a giveaway) but few break the mould and deliver a film provides an accurate prediction of the scientific future (much like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey which was released a year prior to the Apollo 11 moon landings). I think it’s a safe estimate that bizarre ideas about space and time travel will be thrown out in favour of a portrayal of the aforementioned, based on our existing knowledge.
1. Multiple Layers
Like other filmmakers before him, Nolan is recognised for the ease with which he can create an unconventional narrative structure that manages to be compelling to casual cinema-goers and film buffs alike. The ability to balance intricacy and simplicity isn’t one that many storytellers have, yet the revenue and critical acclaim generated by the likes of Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige and Inception shows that it is one of Nolan’s specialties. Despite knowing little about its story, we do know that Interstellar will potentially focus on time travel and alternate dimensions. It’s likely that this will mean another film with more than one narrative layer.
If Memento was a typical ‘whodunnit’ thriller, it probably wouldn’t have been as appealing. However, a shuffled chronology and multiple layers make it more than just compelling. The Prestige is similarly captivating due, in part, to it not being uncomplicatedly linear. Inception is reliant on different narratives taking place at the same time given the story it’s telling and this is what makes it work so well, particularly the blur between dream and reality which is a key theme throughout. Nolan is fast becoming one of the greats in terms of his ability to successfully tell complex, multi-layered stories and Interstellar is likely to be a culmination of everything he’s picked up in his career.
Will it be a success? Only time will tell. Given Christopher Nolan’s track record however, we can probably predict that it’ll be both critically and commercially successful. It’ll be interesting to see what he can make under the rules of science-fiction. But something tells me Interstellar will be a lot more than just a run of the mill sci-fi. We’ll see in November.
What do you think? Leave a comment.