Interstellar General Film Discussion Thread

Christopher Nolan's 2014 grand scale science-fiction story about time and space, and the things that transcend them.
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For what it's worth, The Prestige's title card came at the beginning. Memento and Insomnia, too. I think it's likely just Nolan making a stylistic choice, not necessarily something with any thematic intent.

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My only gripe is that I wish right after Brand walking we see a shot in space and a light is flickering (Cooper's ship) among the stars. Raging against the dying of the light.

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stoifics42 wrote:
Bale Fan wrote:Wouldn't the ice clouds be pulled down by gravity? Not trying to nitpick the film. Just curious.
Kip Thorne proposed that the clouds are not literally frozen. The Ranger scraped the bottom of an overhang of frozen carbon dioxide, whose outer surface was vaporizing in the sunlight and producing opaque clouds that obscured the overhang itself.
Here were Thorne's comments on the issue in The Science of Interstellar:
Motivated by a conversation with Paul Franklin, I imagine that these clouds are largely frozen carbon dioxide, "dry ice," and they are starting to be warmed as the planet is on its inward excursion toward the accretion disk...When warmed, dry ice sublimates--vaporizes--and so what appears to be clouds may be a mixture of dry ice and sublimating vapor; perhaps mostly vapor.
It seems like he's hedging his bets a little, since he first says they are "largely frozen carbon dioxide" and then later says "perhaps mostly vapor"...but if the vapor is produced by warming as the planet gets closer to the hot accretion disk around the black hole, that would suggest that at least during periods when the planet is further away they are mostly frozen. Also, this prequel comic written by Christopher Nolan makes more clear that the icy surface where Dr. Mann sets up his camp is just meant to be another frozen cloud, not a rocky surface covered with a layer of ice, since the comic shows Mann trying to find a solid surface underneath the ice clouds without success, with this bit of dialogue between Mann and his robot Kipp after they retrieve a probe:
Mann: "Do you think it found the surface?"
Kipp: "We'll check the data."
Mann: "But if it found some actual ground down there? Terra firma?!"
Finally, in this interview Thorne admits that the notion of frozen clouds is the aspect of the script he is "least comfortable with" in scientific terms:
Q: Is there anywhere the moviemakers strayed outside your guidelines?

A: Not seriously. The one place where I am the least comfortable is on [a] planet where they have these ice clouds. These structures go beyond what I think the material strength of ice would be able to support. But I’d say if that’s the most egregious violation of physical law, they’ve done very, very well. There’s some artistic license there. Every time I watch the movie, that’s the one place where I cringe. I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody that.

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I think there's a pretty fascinating difference between the characters of Murph and Tom, and how one is essentially a more heroic one, while the other is tragic.

Those early scenes show Cooper wanting to teach Tom about farming, telling him at one point "you gotta figure it out, I'm not always gonna be here to help you". He seems to focus more on teaching Tom to be more self-reliant, and how to work with and live off of the land. At the same time, Cooper essentially teaches Murph about scientific theory; how to analyze data and present informed conclusions. She helps him decode the gravitational anomaly and eventually discover the NASA base.

It could have a lot to do with personality, in that Murph is an explorer and a dreamer, much like Cooper himself. She wants to believe in ghosts. Meanwhile, Tom is more of a cynic, more prone to settling - maybe more like his mother? He literally tells Murph "there's no such thing as ghosts" and says it with conviction.

This continues into adulthood, as Tom echoes something Cooper says about farmers sitting around thinking "maybe next year...". After looking at his burning crop, Tom actually says something like "next year will be different, next year I'll take over Nelson's farm ..." I thought this was a bit sad and also speaks to the state of the world in this film. Tom essentially becomes one of those farmers, and his tragedy is that he stays at the farm, making his family suffer in the dust.

He's nearly painted as an antagonist in the story, but it's bigger than that. Tom is a representation of what happens when we refuse to believe, refuse to progress, and remain stagnant and sort of wallow in the misfortune of our times.


blah

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Cilogy wrote:I think there's a pretty fascinating difference between the characters of Murph and Tom, and how one is essentially a more heroic one, while the other is tragic.

Those early scenes show Cooper wanting to teach Tom about farming, telling him at one point "you gotta figure it out, I'm not always gonna be here to help you". He seems to focus more on teaching Tom to be more self-reliant, and how to work with and live off of the land. At the same time, Cooper essentially teaches Murph about scientific theory; how to analyze data and present informed conclusions. She helps him decode the gravitational anomaly and eventually discover the NASA base.

It could have a lot to do with personality, in that Murph is an explorer and a dreamer, much like Cooper himself. She wants to believe in ghosts. Meanwhile, Tom is more of a cynic, more prone to settling - maybe more like his mother? He literally tells Murph "there's no such thing as ghosts" and says it with conviction.

This continues into adulthood, as Tom echoes something Cooper says about farmers sitting around thinking "maybe next year...". After looking at his burning crop, Tom actually says something like "next year will be different, next year I'll take over Nelson's farm ..." I thought this was a bit sad and also speaks to the state of the world in this film. Tom essentially becomes one of those farmers, and his tragedy is that he stays at the farm, making his family suffer in the dust.

He's nearly painted as an antagonist in the story, but it's bigger than that. Tom is a representation of what happens when we refuse to believe, refuse to progress, and remain stagnant and sort of wallow in the misfortune of our times.


blah
All of the characters, but specifically those two represent the A and B plans. One settles for the lesser and just accepts the situation while one reaches higher.

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Sky007 wrote:All of the characters, but specifically those two represent the A and B plans. One settles for the lesser and just accepts the situation while one reaches higher.
That's a hell of a loose parallel.

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Crazy Eight wrote:
Sky007 wrote:All of the characters, but specifically those two represent the A and B plans. One settles for the lesser and just accepts the situation while one reaches higher.
That's a hell of a loose parallel.
It's definitely there. So much is put on the plans and Nolan constantly has his characters struggling between the two options. It's a clever way of showing the characters thoughts and motivations. A of course being the best option and what they should aim for. It's what Cooper wants. Dr. Brand, and Mann are very much full on trying for the B plan. This is part of what the Ice planet is all about. Man facing his biggest enemy, himself and Dr. Mann is that embodied. Nolan builds the space narrative with the earth stuff and it meets here. There's even that clever shot of the ice moving closer together to show the two timelines merging. We have Cooper vs. Mann. Very clearly this is the guy that wants plan A vs. the guy that is with plan B. Nolan parallels this with Murph who is trying to better the situation for her family and the entire world while Tom just accepts it and isn't trying to better anything. The Plan A vs. plan B is a massive part of the entire point of the film. To aim higher and try to break boundaries. In the final scenes we have a world of people that are pushing forward. The A group wins.

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Yeah, sure. But Murph and Tom don't "represent" plan A and B like you initially suggested. If plan B was living on Earth and being a bunch caretakers, then absolutely. But plan B hardly reflects Tom as a character, literally or philosophically.

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Sky007 wrote:It's definitely there. So much is put on the plans and Nolan constantly has his characters struggling between the two options. It's a clever way of showing the characters thoughts and motivations. A of course being the best option and what they should aim for. It's what Cooper wants. Dr. Brand, and Mann are very much full on trying for the B plan. This is part of what the Ice planet is all about. Man facing his biggest enemy, himself and Dr. Mann is that embodied. Nolan builds the space narrative with the earth stuff and it meets here. There's even that clever shot of the ice moving closer together to show the two timelines merging.
Two timelines? I think there was only ever intended to be a single self-consistent timeline in Interstellar since that's the only model of time travel that Kip Thorne gives any serious consideration to in his books, see my post on the science fiction stack exchange here.
Sky007 wrote:We have Cooper vs. Mann. Very clearly this is the guy that wants plan A vs. the guy that is with plan B.
Dr. Mann may have originally been trying to make Plan B work, but by the time we actually see him in the movie, he's just looking out for his own survival, knowing that doing so stands a good chance of undermining the chances for Plan B to succeed (since the data he gathered suggests the ice cloud world probably wouldn't make a good long-term habitat).
Sky007 wrote:Nolan parallels this with Murph who is trying to better the situation for her family and the entire world while Tom just accepts it and isn't trying to better anything.
But Plan B is trying to better things, just not as ambitiously as Plan A. Simply accepting the situation would mean allowing all humanity to go extinct, rather than trying to create a new society in space while letting everyone on Earth die. I don't see anything in Tom's story that works very well as a parallel for this, he's just doing the best he can at surviving in the way he knows, and probably doesn't even realize that there's no long-term chance for his family to survive on Earth.

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Crazy Eight wrote:Yeah, sure. But Murph and Tom don't "represent" plan A and B like you initially suggested. If plan B was living on Earth and being a bunch caretakers, then absolutely. But plan B hardly reflects Tom as a character, literally or philosophically.
I still think they do. Not super literally, but it is very clear that Murph is trying to better the world much more than Tom. Plan B leaves the world to die and turn into dust. Plan A allows the entire species to move forward into space. I think this a very clear reflection of Tom and Murphy.

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