Today was a great day. After a long time, I was fortunate to catch a decent movie on the big screen. Interstellar. Turned out, it happened to be a killer, mind-blowing film.
It happened to be so good that I wanted to actually sit down and write a review of the movie and my thoughts before, during and after watching it. I actually managed to learn some pretty interesting and important lessons from the movie. [Note: I have dropped in references from Indian mythology here and there so please bear.]
Pure, unadulterated, terrific imagination. A popular Einstein quote kept travelling through my head throughout the movie – that imagination is more important than knowledge. The way Nolan describes the entire interstellar journey, visually and conceptually, is a rare display of imagination from a filmmaker. The story weaves warm human emotions with cold objective science with such brilliance, it seems almost natural.
Come to think about it, we Indians used to be extremely imaginative a few hundred years back when we dreamed of all sorts of flying objects – chariots, missiles, animals, humans. There are plenty of mythological stories such as this one which depict how deep Indian thought went.
Interstellar taught me that one can really hope to learn and be more imaginative than ever before to solve important human problems, creatively.
The greatest ideas have been the most simple ideas. The wheel. Zero. Binary language. iPod and iPhone.
Interstellar, fortunately, was quite simple to understand and therein lies its greatness. The way science and its applications have been explained is marvellously understandable to a layman. Yes, it was oversimplified but one still got a basic idea, enough to kindle a flame. I was blown away by the simple way in which the makers had explained super advanced concepts. Now that I think of it, the physics in the movie seemed interesting because it had been interlaced with basic human values such as love, bravery and the instinct for survival. Most people find it easy to understand gravity but other fundas like time, space, space-time, 5 dimensional existence and the theory of relativity are relatively more difficult to grasp for the layman.
But judging from the audience interest, the silence in the theatre during gripping moments, the chuckles when Cooper (the lead hero) cracks his science jokes meant that the audience had managed to understand science quite well. Even the chatter one hears after the movie has finished and people are filing out of the hall was mostly about science.
And this is the same audience which loves Salman Khan taking of his shirt and beating goondas left right and centre.
I learnt that if we need to inculcate an interest in Science, Maths and Engineering, we need to make it interesting to our kids and students. We need to show them how science is applied. We need to be patient when we answer questions and we need to promote the scientific spirit of enquiry and curiosity.
For you see, we are explorers and pioneers. Definitely not modern slaves, living a life of drudgery, just to survive. The world is slowly dying so why not live life king size?
The emotion of love was beautifully portrayed in this sci-fi film and it reinforced in me that science is not that cold a subject. Yes, its objective which can make it seem cold and emotionless on the surface. But science is much deeper. Its actually imagination, put on paper. Imagination which stems from a love for life and for humanity. Scientists work hard to improve our lives.
I realised the importance of love. Forget your MBAs and BTECHs. We should first learn to love each other, before we even considering learning anything else. As a race, we have forgotten our love for life and each and we’re consumed in greed. All we seem to do is consume more. For the scientific minded, a quick Google search will tell you the importance of love anyway. And I can assure you, it will be far more important than any other academic degree.
Forget that, the idea of love connects beautifully with India and Hinduism. You see, a few years back I was listening to a pravachan by a pop-guru on TV and he was saying that love is the greatest force in the world. It is the most basic entity, deeper than atoms and quantum energy, which makes life. It’s what sustains life and keeps things together. Love is what keeps atoms sticking together and its what keeps larger bodies of atoms such as humans stick together. Without love, the world as we know it will disintegrate.
So you would imagine my happiness when a similar idea was thrown open in the film when Amelia speaks about how her love for Edmund draws her to him, even after decades. And she adds in some scientific masala to her theory of love. Eventually, it was love which led Cooper to fight and survive and eventually pass on the information to his daughter. Genius.
4. Beauty of Indian Thought
Back in the day, Indian thought was far more advanced. The movie had some direct and brief references to India. But if you take a deeper look, you realise that India has the potential to do wonders in its space program. Mangalyaan being a recent success. Executed on a tight budget in a country which doesn’t have enough money to feed its poor, the success of Mangalyaan proves that Indians have the mindset, resources, and will to take the human race forward. We are frugal, we are jugaadu, we can be highly innovative and we can take risks. All qualities which make up a pioneer.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could do something similar as shown in the movie, 40, 50 or 60 years down the line? India has an ancient and rich culture which promoted science as this, this, this, and this article suggests.
Even the current political leadership seems to think so as this article suggests.
The need for a scientific mind
We must realize that a scientific mind helps one understand concepts which were once mysteries. Whether its blackholes or blackheads, spaceships or how to grow food, everything can be and should be explained be through the lens of science. That doesn’t mean that if we don’t understand something right now, its not true.
Apart from that, the movie also made me realise that Indians were highly scientific back in the day. They were extremely imaginative which made them come up with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. Please see the original Mahabharata TV series if you want to know what I mean?
If today we don’t understand how Indians thought of flying chariots 2000 years back, we shouldn’t immediately criticise the idea. Who knows if thats a possibility in the future? Who knows if flying monkeys is a possibility or if elephant headed men is a possibility?
Suche brilliant film. Such deep realisations coming from a Hollywood movie. If I happen to get into education, I’m definitely gonna choose movies to send the message because someone has rightly said that these days, only one thing sells – entertainment, entertainment and entertainment.
Thank you Mr. Nolan, for creating Interstellar. It’s really opened my mind and I can only hope it continues to stay that way.