I wanted to say a few things about Interstellar that are worth thinking about, but I don’t think the movie is necessary. It was ok, but my purpose here is not to promote it, just critique. We should think about everything around us. So, I am going to ‘spoil’ the plot. I happen to think that if plot giveaways ruin a book or a movie, then it wasn’t that good to begin with. Modern movies are all about plot, instead of about the complex themes, messages or beauty of the expression. Good art is that which can be read and reread, watched and watched again, studied.
I’m not sure if it’s the level of technology or studio competition, but movies tend to travel in packs. This is one of the, floating around in space pack, including Oblivion or Gravity. I don’t think the cinematography was particularly beautiful, nor the special effects unique. But they were seamless tools in delivering the experience, which is good. The purpose of Art being to conceal itself as Ovid said. I found that, yes I do want to watch Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway float around in space for three hours. It seemed like only two. I liked the use of the robots as unremarkable square blocks, they were then not characters but merely useful computers.
The scene is earth in the near future where a form of blight, or plant infection, has killed all the food crops. They are down to corn, and that seems to be dwindling. Mankind has given up “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars 1. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.2” Says Coop, the hero of the movie. We are introduced to the professional government school teacher criticizing Coop for confusing his daughter with false narratives about man landing on the moon. Those in the know, know that the space program was faked to make the Soviets waste a bunch of money, so we could win the cold war. This is a scene that takes place over and over in the real world. The professionals know how to raise your kids better than you do, even as they lie about recent and distant history, ostensibly to promote a more better, Godless, way for mankind. My first problem is here. Coop is the modern American hero in many ways, not the hero of todays’ feminist tyrannical universities and culture but that of our grandparents. He is an engineer, with dreams that exceed his grasp, he works hard and smart and takes risks, to explore the frontier, to conquer any problem with science.
But even this is a rewriting as offensive as saying the space program didn’t happen. It didn’t just happen, and it wasn’t just an achievement of freedom or democracy or science that went to the moon. It was the height of Christianity that went to the moon. Just as it was Christianity that sailed the ocean in 1492. Muhammedans didn’t discover science, they didn’t seek to set the whole world right because it was not in their religion. Muhammed was a tribal warlord. He told his people that god has promised him the defeat of all of his enemies in battle. And so the people set about attacking all the other tribes. They still do it today. And the fact that they have not been successful in battle for a couple hundred years, has led them to teenage terrorist angst. Something is wrong, and instead of ditching their false religion, they lash out like a rebellious teen who was never taught to properly control his urges.
Christianity on the other hand is a message of self sacrifice, leading to the total redemption of the whole earth. We follow Christ by laying down our life for the lives of those in our midst, in our town and out on the frontier. This is why Christians have always produced explorers and missionaries, the two were often one. Christianity produced explorers of science, because we believe in a faithful God of fixed rules and order. Yet he is not a standoffish God, he participates with man in bringing about his ends. We are not fatally trapped in our position, we can make things better. We can build and develop all for the glory of God. Christendom lost a bit of this spirit, in the high church 15th century, but the Reformation brought about a great revival. Every profession is good, because it is for the glory of God. The humility required to always be embracing new technology, new ideas, is a requisite for or modern conveniences. It takes a Christian humble people to found and build the America that even the most staunch atheist has to admit is a very comfy place. We can’t really expect this much from Hollywood, when the Church today doesn’t even get it. There really is no excuse it is the most obvious fact of history. But we have been sitting in classrooms, like the one in the movie, for far too many generations. Classrooms where history is twisted to meet pragmatic, functional, darwinian ends, rather than to tell the truth of what God has done on this earth. We want scientific robots rather than moral men with character.
But to this function, the movie actually speaks rightly. The people content with living in the dirt, seem to have given up all hope and wait to die. While another group of scientists, seek to save humanity, yet only for functional reasons. They are NASA going underground to hide their research from the farmers 3. The villain of the movie is Dr. Mann. He is willing to throw out any morals, and even abandon his fellow NASA pioneers, ‘for the good of humanity’ i.e. saving his own skin. This picture is truly hilarious. Dr Mann, is of course a mockery of Michael Mann, global warming alarmist and creator of the computer-predicted hockey stick graph. Those familiar with Mark Steyn know this nut is currently suing Steyn, for mocking his hockey stick. I love how the movies sets up Dr. Mann, as a very small man, alone on his ice cube of a planet, falsifying the data he sends back to earth, claiming his planet is livable, warmer than it actually is, to save his butt. In a bid to get them to come and save him. He is a coward and a liar. I am not sure how they got Matt Daemon to play Mann since he is definitely in the church of global warming. It truly brings one great satisfaction to see Daemon mock himself and the foolishness of global warming.
Also the Nolans were careful to point out that the blight on the earth was not the result of man’s activities or waste or not listening to Algore/Mann. It was just the earth battling or expelling mankind. Which is a bit like reality. The earth was cursed, whether just the earth or dirt that made Adam or the whole earth is a little unclear in Genesis. But Christians have generally seen the earth as capable of evil. Though there is a line in the movie about how nature is not evil, the only evil is what they bring with them. But the punishment for animals that take human life in Scripture leads me to believe that nature is corrupted. Though we as humans do have the unique ability to disobey God, to be evil. We are the one silent planet, the rebellious planet, in the great symphony of God’s creation.
But the Interstellar replacement for the cold hard scientific religion of existing to exist, isn’t much deeper than the pop song version of ‘love’. Love which seems to be the emotion of liking someone, crosses all galaxies and dimensions. I’m not sure how you live in a purely physical world lacking anything metaphysical, with no God, and still have a love that trancends, but that seems to be the new goal, to create that world. And so the film leaves me with the feeling that all is not quite right, in this imaginary world. Having travelled into the worlds created by the classics of Christendom, I was left with a strange taste in my mouth. I even find the Matrix more satisfying. If the best we can do is this lame version of love, I’m not celebrating. We can do much better, humanity has, and our culture has been systematically throwing out all those lessons, all that Christianity, rather than building on it.
Many recent apocalyptic movies portray a notion that is quite common today, that we must leave this earth and find another home. Because we are going to destroy this planet or because it’s part of evolution. This even seems to be the motivation of NASA these days, to colonize Mars. This is all crazy. There is some of this in the movie but it comes closer to reality than other movies. Humanity is saved, rather than just moving to another planet, they move to small earths or space stations around the same sun. But it still lacks the imagery of Scripture, it is this earth that man is called to rule. Sure we can destroy some things, but it is arrogance to assume we can destroy the earth. We are not a virus who sailed across the Atlantic to destroy the native perfection. Our promise in Scripture has always been a glorified earth where Christ reigns. The future for Christians it to bring about a renewal of every corner of this broken earth. And so Christians have done this, so successfully that most people take all these blessing for granted. Now they have started in criticizing the past for not being as good as what Christianity did. Of course there is nothing wrong with exploring the moon, or mars. And so in the movie both happen, the people of earth are saved and an outpost is set up on a far away planet. But living by the false narratives, the false religions of scientism, or insipid ‘love’, is going to be about as successful as those tribal Muhammedans.
- I think the endless wondering is because we have been set adrift from our Christian heritage. We content ourselves with movies composed of explosions and fights, but no content. We content ourselves with entertainment rather than a quest for a better, more Christian world. We content ourself with lame stories, when Christendom has given us so many wonderful moral stories. The Medieval man knew his place, on Earth, center stage in the drama of God. Man the height of creation, but also the center of sin. Today, we just float around in postmodern hyper-individual, confusion. ↩
- This reminds me of a similar quote by C. S. Lewis, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses
- The allusion to the conflict between the passive farmer and the NASA scientist, is not meaningless. On July 20, 1969, NASA sent the first man to the moon, a month later the hippies rolled around in the mud of Woodstock. Ever since there has been a battle and the hippie losers of Woodstock have mostly won. Today they are the political leaders filling Washington, the professors filling our universities, and the producers filling Hollywood. As such we don’t rule and subdue the earth, we don’t innovate, we languish in the mud of government bureaucracy, held back by Dr. Mann and his dope-smoking band of godless environmentalists. We don’t bravely conquer new problems that arise, we cower and hold back other nations from the progress we made, “for the earth”. ↩