Millennia of anything reveals change. Whether that particular change aids in technological development or is aided by it, change occurs nonetheless. Over the ages, the art of storytelling has transcended forms, adapted to modern mediums, and inspired, informed and interacted with audiences, illustrating one truth, perhaps seldom considered:
We, as a society, are more skeptical, incredulous, and disbelieving than ever before.
Oh, we want to believe. If the success of Marvel and DC’s current superhero film war tells us nothing else, it’s that society is desperate for something to believe in. But as global church-attendance and religious observance dwindles, mankind looks less to a higher power and more to science, and therefore science-fiction, for hope.
We live in an information age. If we can’t instantly find the definitive answer to a question online, at least we’ve still got a dozen opinions and possibilities. As such though, we are skeptical, trusting less of any one source of information in favour of the most popular opinion. We can’t suspend our disbelief like we could as children. We want evidence and testimony and we want lots of it. Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett are fun romps, but Isaac Asimov, Philip K Dick, Arthur C Clarke, the fantasies of these men are backed by real science!
And this is where I reach the conundrum that is Interstellar (2015).
Interstellar was globally well-received, but among nerds everywhere presented a classification problem. The first two-thirds of the film were good ole’ hard science-fiction; the science is central to the plot and is used by the protagonist and other characters to overcome challenges and obstacles that arise. It sheds light upon the current trend of societal disbelief of which I have spoken. The clip above helps set the scene for the film and shows a somewhat dystopian future where governmental and global priorities have shifted and not necessarily for the better. Case in point- “The Apollo missions were a brilliant piece of propaganda to bankrupt the Soviets… If we don’t want a repeat of the excess and wastefulness of the twentieth century, then we need to teach our kids about this planet, not leaving it.”
The final third of the film, while still scientific, takes us so far beyond the familiar into what’s purely theoretical that many have rejected the ending as incongruous with the rest of the film. The real problem, however, was continuity of foreshadowing and narrative delivery more than concept. The concept is just as solid as anything else in the film. We just lack the childlike suspension of disbelief to properly embrace it.
-Taken from a blog I did for a University class on Science and Science Fiction. To see my actual Interstellar review, click here.