Instead of getting into the 6 different ways Interstellar can be seen, whether to IMAX or not to IMAX, let’s explore the fundamental premise of Christopher Nolan’s latest film: that the Earth is beyond saving.

great dust storm China 2013 11 INTERSTELLAR: GIVING UP ON EARTH

A 2013 sandstorm hits northwest China’s Gansu province

Certainly all the signs are pointing towards a critical point, the far-reaching effects of climate change causing erratic weather patterns, melting polar ice caps, increased incidents of blight and disease, and reduction of crop diversity, just to name a few.  However, does this mean we should just be overwhelmed by the enormity of the issue and abandon Earth all together to start afresh on another planet?  According to Interstellar, the answer is yes.

The movie is vague about what the dust and blight exactly is plaguing farmers and what caused it to happen, only that everyone is urged to be a farmer to stave off the impending doom of global starvation.  What the story fails to illustrate is why humanity has not been able to find a solution to the dust before jumping directly into the idea of colonizing other planets.  What made people decide that Earth was no longer worth saving, leaving them only with the choice to abandon their magnificent planet and start afresh somewhere else?


From Wall-E

A pretty bleak outlook no matter how one looks at it; even in Wall-E, when all efforts to clean up Earth failed, humanity still kept the hope that Earth would revive, from time to time sending probes like Eva to check for plant life, still poised to come home on their spacecraft even though 700 some-odd years had passed since the human race left Earth’s atmosphere.  With Interstellar, humans seem to jump the gun, ready to leave the mess they made without much apparent attempt to clean it up first.


Radiation jets emerging from a black hole at the center of Centaurus A in a composite image prepared by NASA

It is clear that with Interstellar Nolan continues his fascination with the space-time continuum, collaborating with the well-known physicist Kip Thorne in exploring the nature of gravity and its effects on time and time travel, a cerebral physics romp via cinema.  However, with the precedence of Inception and its manipulation of time and the fact that both Inception and Interstellar kind of end up where they started, the question of human destiny inevitably arises.

Is humankind a slave to its destiny as Nolan proposes, no matter how many worlds and galaxies it traverses?  If so, wouldn’t the fate of the human race be inexorably tied to the fate of the Earth, being that Earth is from whence we sprung?  If naval captains do not abandon their sinking ships, how can humans, stewards of Earth, abandon their suffering planet so easily?  It feels like a betrayal, as if a sacred vow has been broken.

If indeed it is our destiny to leave an unsalvageable Earth, then even we here hold the power and bear the responsibility of killing her.  And if the simultaneity of time portrayed in Interstellar is proven correct, then we continue to kill her at every moment; may humankind rise to meet its fate and the seeds of time bear different fruit…


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