EMER Reynolds’ documentary The Farthest – out in cinemas now – tells the remarkable story of NASA’s Voyager Interstellar Mission. All of this talk of interstellar space got me thinking about Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film, Interstellar.
It is an emotional and labyrinthine work that, in typical Nolan fashion, builds to a mind-bending ending. Yet above all the rich visuals, Nolan does a masterful job of creating deeply human ‘moments’ in Interstellar. The type of moments that get the hairs standing on your arms and are engraved in your mind long after you step out of the theatre.
My favourite of these moments takes place before we have even left Earth, which at this point is supposedly a dying dust ball. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) explains to a tearful Murph (Mackenzie Foy) that he has to leave. As much as he attempts to reason and soften the blow, Murph is having none of it and pleads with him to stay. She is angry and heartbroken.
During this interaction, a book falls off the shelf and Cooper takes a few seconds to look back at it. Of course, this occurrence – and his connection with it – will become clear in the closing stages of the film.
Cooper gets in his truck and drives off. Hans Zimmer’s profound score – a mix of strings and that famously commanding organ – builds. Dust flies off Cooper’s truck like smoke off a launching spacecraft. Ten, nine, eight. The countdown to Cooper’s launch begins.
In desperation, Murph races outside for one last plea or, at least, a final goodbye. ‘Dad!’ But it is too late. Her father is gone. The music reaches its climax as Cooper fights – in vain – to hold off the tears. The countdown reaches zero, and we cut to the spacecraft lifting off.
This scene is a moment of raw, small-scale human emotion before the film opens up to grandiosely explore space and time. One of loss and sacrifice that swells to an emotionally striking climax.
A scene I will think of whenever I hear the word ‘Interstellar’, no matter the context.
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