Friday, November 14, 2014

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

I went to see interstellar last weekend and it has taken me nearly a week to collect my thoughts on the matter. On the whole, as a movie, it was a great one. It had a fantastic cast that acted superbly, it was mind-blowingly beautiful, and it had one of the best scores of music I have ever heard in film. Sounds like I should be raving about the movie, telling all my friends to go see it right? Sadly there was one fatal flaw with this particular movie that soured the whole experience for me. It was like a delicious apple, up until the moment you realize it harbors a worm that is rotting out the core.
Let me be perfectly clear: the denouement fell flat. In other words the climax of the movie ruined it. It is hard to say that because I so love so many of Christopher Nolan’s movies and I wanted so badly for this one to come through as well. And it really seemed like it had a chance, like it was going to make it, like everything could still come out okay, right up until the main character, Cooper, drops himself into a blackhole.
“Do not go gentle into that good night…”
The set up is that (yes, I’m about to spoil everything for you. Run and watch the movie if you don’t want me to, but then come back and read what I have to say) all of mankind is on the brink of that good night. That they have come to the end and that without another planet to survive on mankind will disappear for good. But as luck (or is it fate?) would have it a wormhole opens up nearby and enables interstellar travel to a distant space galaxy with possibly habitable planets.
So the main characters need to find out if any of them are habitable and come back and let everyone else know. From there they have two plans. Plan A is to actually get a huge space-station that they’ve already built off the ground and out there with the rest of humanity on board and Plan B is to colonize the world with banks of fertilized human eggs waiting to be born and raised (If you’re having trouble with that one as well, I understand, but suspend your disbelief for a little longer. It gets a whole lot worse.)
Plan A has a fundamental flaw: humans haven’t yet harnessed gravity, so they can’t get the huge space station off the ground. The old man scientist (brilliantly played by Michael Cain) is working on it, but his formula isn’t complete. The main characters fly off anyways to find out if any of the planets are habitable while the scientist continues his work on the formula. Epic trials occur that try all the characters and we get to see some pretty amazing stuff. Through a series of bad decisions, though, they are left with a damaged ship and only half the crew they had at first, with not even enough fuel to get to the last possible planet.
Luckily there’s this huge blackhole very close by that they’re getting sucked into and that they figure out that they can use to slingshot themselves away to the last planet. They have to expend every last ounce of fuel in doing so, though, and they have to lose both shuttles to make the ship lighter. The shuttles need to be manned because they are being used to aid in the flight until their fuel is gone. After that the shuttles get dropped and make the ship lighter, enabling the slingshot thingy to occur.
The main character is in one of the shuttles manning it (a robot is in the other). The other character, Amelia, thought he was going to come join her after the shuttle needed to be dropped, but last second he says bye and drops himself with the shuttle into the blackhole.
Now, in order to fully understand this decision I need to explain some background. Cooper left earth promising his daughter, Murph, he would be back. He gave her a watch, saying that it didn’t matter how long it took or how old they were when they saw each other finally; he would come back. After that they get out into space and near the blackhole and the main characters start talking about the theoretical possibility that they can use the blackhole as a means of travel back to earth. They start talking about the possibility that gravity, like time, transcends space somehow and that they can harness it to get back home.
Rewind back to the beginning, to what got Cooper into space in the first place. There’s a weird, unexplained phenomena that his daughter is calling a ghost pushing books off her shelves and playing with the dust in her room. It reveals through binary the coordinates of the secret NASA base where Cooper finds himself asked to save mankind. When he decides to accept, his daughter rails against his decision, telling him to stay; telling him that the ghost was trying to communicate the word “stay” by dropping the books. The best explanation that they can come up with for this phenomena is “gravity.”
Such a pathetic explanation will never, ever do in a Christopher Nolan movie, so I knew that a better explanation had to be coming. The scientists believe some sentient life form placed the wormhole because that is the only possible reason for its existence and that some sentient beings are using the gravity phenomenon to get their attention and bring them out to these habitable planets.
Such sentiments about higher sentient beings got my attention and I started wondering if a Hollywood blockbuster might actually include God in the plotline. I should have thought twice; should have considered the history of Hollywood and their disrespect for God. Remembering that, I might not have been surprised at the ending.
Cooper falls into the blackhole. His space shuttle gets destroyed, crushed and torn apart. He himself, though, survives somehow. And suddenly he’s in this weird plain of colors that can’t really be described at first. Then, as he starts exploring, you realize they are bookshelves, that he’s trapped behind bookshelves. Cooper is somehow trapped trans-dimensionally behind his daughter’s bookshelves years and years ago when the ghost started occurring.
The robot that was in the other shuttle and that is now trapped with him declares it fate, saying that the sentient beings must have set it up this way. Cooper rejects that, though, saying that the sentient beings are them, humans, in the future that have evolved. He then proceeds to do everything the ghost did, spelling out the word “stay” and writing the coordinates in the dust that led them to NASA.
Taking it a step further he asks the robot for the Quantum data that will help finish the old man scientist’s equation that is somehow magically observable from just being in the blackhole. He then has the robot turn said data into Morse code which he plays out on the secondhand of the watch he gave his daughter, communicating the mankind-saving message to his now grownup gal (who just happens to be a NASA scientist who studied under the old man).
She rejoices and uses the newly finished equation to harness gravity, building space stations big enough for all of humanity to escape earth. Magically, years later, Cooper is found floating out in space near where the wormhole is and he is rescued. It’s only been a few months for him, but his daughter is an old woman now, having saved all of mankind. But they get to see each other, just like he promised. It’s so touching.
Sense any sarcasm? Everything beyond the “explanation” of the ghost really soured for me, because the higher sentient beings turned out to be evolved humans. This is not just Cooper’s theorizing. We’re shown that he is, in fact, the phenomenon that the other scientists observed and called a “higher sentient being.” It is exactly what the filmmakers had in mind: That humans are great enough to succeed on their own, if only they just try hard enough.
They said, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light!” that somehow humans can make it if they only put forward enough effort. Sorry to sound critical here, but that’s a paltry, stupid excuse for a message in a movie of this caliber. It’s a copout, typical humanist Hollywood trash.
What led up to the end was mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake made by the main characters, humankind’s last hope. Lies were told, one scientist tried to murder all of them, and two others were killed by bad decision on the part of Cooper and Amelia. We are shown over and over again that human beings are frail, flawed creatures, which is so true! To have the ending be those same humans succeeding on their own steam, after trying hard enough and long enough, is just so wrong.
We need God to succeed, the hand of Grace to wash away our mistakes. That is what is true. Interstellar was a wild and fun ride most of the way through. But the humanist baloney at the end ruined it for me.
Maybe I shouldn’t have shared, since my opinion is so negative. But a Welsh poet once wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night … Rage, Rage against the dying of the light.”
I saw this humanist foolishness put forward in interstellar and it disappointed me. But it also made me wrathful. Who are they to say these lies, and bring us closer to that “good” night? I shall rage and rage again, in hopes that the light might not die from the eyes of those around me; in hopes that the Truth get through to those that need Him.

It is a small thing, perhaps. Maybe it doesn’t even matter. But I beg of you, do not go gentle into the well-told lies of that good night. Rage, rage with me! Me might see a few more hours in the day…


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  2. We will carry the torch,
    We will lift high the flame,
    We will March through the darkness
    By the light of His name.
    Till the glory of God
    Is seen by the world
    We will carry the torch of the Lord.

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