"Interstellar" -- Christopher Nolan's Ode to Love

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I finally got out to view the movie "Interstellar," which my sons and I had been wanting to see all season.  We are all fans of Christopher Nolan, particularly because of the way he uses his art to make important statements into our culture.  Interstellar picks up where the Batman series leaves off.  In Batman, Nolan depicts how postmodernity destroys civilization and makes people suffer.  Interstellar begins with a planet that is effectively beyond hope because of unexplained calamities which are vaguely associated with the incompetence of political correctness.  Launching from there, Nolan presents a chronicle of hope through the indominable human spirit.  It is a hope that is marred by human depravity but ultimately propelled by the power of love.  It's not exactly a Christian worldview that is presented by Interstellar, but these days some uplifting humanism is at least a nice change of pace.  Despite the unavoidable logical conundrums inherent to time warping movies -- I will avoid spoilers, but let's just say there are things in Interstellar that just don't add us -- I thought Nolan pulled off his objective brilliantly.

When I finally got around to reading C S Lewis' Narnia series (I was not raised as a Christian so i discovered these as an adult), I marveled at how Lewis went to such pains to make essentially a single point in each of these books.  Nolan likewise has really a single point in Interstellar: love is what propels human beings to sacrifice and provides a glimmer of hope for our race.  Most notably, I thought, Nolan insists that love be expressed not just in the abstrace but in concrete relationships.  Every notable deed of virtue in the movies take place because of the love commitment of one person for a specific other person.  Cooper (the main character) is driven to total self-sacrifice by unwavering love for his daughter, Murphy.  Brand is propelled on a futile journey to a distant planet because that is where the man she loved has gone (and long since died). And at the end, when the whole world has been lost to him, Cooper finds a new purpose through the love he developed for Brand.  Meanwhile the supposedly finest person ever known falls to utter self-interest because there is no particular person for whom he is driven by love.  This is Nolan's point: we find hope in despair, with courage for self-sacrifice, and we are driven to live on a higher level of virtue because of the bonds of love that connect us to particular people.

Christopher Nolan is a transcendent humanist.  I am not, since I am a Christian.  But in these low days of postmodern culture, I very much appreciate the man's work.  Nolan makes movies both as a rebuke and an inspiration to a culture of despair.  He believes in the human spirit, which Christians will associate with the image of God.  He does not neglect the pervasive corruption of sin in the human heart: Interstellar's characters leave the sinful earth but they take evil with them.  And his emphasis on the central importance of relationships of committed love, while not exactly the same as the biblical ideal, is something that Christians can appreciate and applaud.  Thumbs up for Interstellar, and much deserved applause for Christopher Nolan.
Posted January 6, 2015 @ 7:11 AM by Rick Phillips

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