Love it or hate it?
I saw Interstellar last night and read impressions on the internet this morning that ran the gamut from people who absolutely hated the movie and thought it was the worst garbage they’d ever seen to those who were wildly enthusiastic. Then there was the majority, more or less in the middle, who saw both flaws and brilliance, the good and the bad. While my wife falls into the first grouping, I’m in the upper range of the middle category. Jan hated it and was bored throughout; I liked it despite many flaws.
One thing that signals a good work of fiction for me—a movie, a novel, a short story—is what it does to you the next morning (as I sit here pondering it). Does it have legs? Does it walk around in your head, making you wonder what this or that was about? Does it make you want to revisit the story to understand things that slipped by, to find out whether they were really profound or just plain silly? Or is this pondering the imponderable?
The movie does that to me. I need to see it again. I need to read about it. I want to absorb it better so I can understand whether it was filled with silliness, or profundities, or comes down in the middle with both, like a quantum mixed-state. It raises an itch in the brain that needs scratching. Can it withstand a second viewing?
I read that it’s too ambitious, that the plot twists and turns insufferably, full of holes, that the science is schlock, the sentiments smarmy. But ambition is good, isn’t it, even if not completely realized? And—from my physics education and spaceflight experience—the science is mixed, some of it dead-on, some not, but at least when the science is not as it should be, the story is clever enough to shift into the metaphysical, to put it beyond the realm of the laws of physics—exactly what happens when you cross the horizon of a black hole. When you enter a black hole, you enter Alice’s Wonderland, because nobody—not Einstein nor Hawking or Schrödinger or Heisenberg—knows for sure what goes on there. You’ve entered the rabbit hole free-fall, and the Interstellar story knows this and exploits it and boldly strikes off into a metaphysical dimension to move us toward the finale. It’s both cliché-ic and brilliant simultaneously, a superposition of states poised for a measurement (read that as re-viewing) to collapse it into a single eigenstate.
There are parallels to my own story, The Darkest Side of Saturn, even though the plot and substance are completely different. It too has twists and turns, it’s described as complex, as over-ambitious, as metaphysical. Some reviewers call it vapid, and others, profound. Some readers see it fixated on the phrase “Where are we?” that runs through Harris Mitchel’s head, just as some viewer’s of Interstellar are overloaded by repetition of Dylan Thomas’s Do not go gentle into that good night.
Some hate it, some love it, but if it walks around in your head the morning after, superimposed states colliding tumultuously, it has met its mark.