"Interstellar" Delivers for Science Fiction Fans
It happened to be Father's Day here in the USA yesterday and I happened to catch the movie "Interstellar" for the second time last night. What an appropriate film for Father's Day!
Because essentially, it's a story about a father that leaves his children behind, and all the angst that goes with that specific type of pain - with an interesting twist of redemption at the end.
The father in question is Joseph Cooper, a NASA trained astronaut turned farmer in a bleak, ecologically challenged future America. This gentleman, along with the help of his pre-teen daughter, receives some weird psychic message from within his farm house, that lead them both on a quest. But first, we learn a lot about this family personally, including the close relationship between the father and daughter, which eventually is challenged by his departure.
The opening scene of the movie is a captivating father, son and daughter high speed hunt through cornlands for a rogue military drone - apparently they're just flying everywhere out of control in this future. Our farmer is able to hijack the drone's on-board computer with a wireless hacking device and bring it down in the cornfield. At which point, he removes its "black box" and says its processor will be re-purposed to a self-driving farming combine. Deep stuff!
It's not exactly explained why the earth and north america has turned into a giant, cancer-producing, food-barren dustbowl - given the year of the movie's release, one would assume "Global Warming" as sort of a catch-all reason for the desolation of the future Earth depicted in Interstellar. All crops are failing and science has been traded in for agriculture... too late, it seems.
But it turns out that a secret tiny NASA group has been storing human DNA, thousands of humans-worth -- to be cloned on some other habitable planet - that is, if plan A fails. Plan A is for said group, via space exploration, to find a habitable planet, somewhere on the other side of the WORMHOLE that has somehow magically appeared just off Saturn's rings.
The psychic quest I mentioned earlier leads Cooper and Murph (the daughter) to NASA's hideout deep in NORAD, and they ask him to be the pilot of the interstellar mission to "save the world". Which, of course, he has to accept. But it means he'll have to enter a completely different time stream than the family he's leaving.
A lot of exciting things happen during the interstellar voyage - enough to take up three plus hours of movie without taking a breath. Cooper and his fellow astronauts experience some very hostile worlds before possibly finding a future home for humanity.
But the main story arc has to do with Einstein's relativity and the time differential between Earth and his family and his proximity to a black hole. When you go near a black hole, the gravity slows down time, so years on earth pass in a few hours of black-hole time -- seven years per hour, in the context of Interstellar's story arc. This has caused Cooper's family back home to suffer life without him, feeling painfully abandoned. But there is redemption...