Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Interstellar: A Synchromystic Movie Review

Of course this will not be a typical movie review of Interstellar.  This is the synchromystic version.

The Good:  Overall it was a solid film with an interesting take on Love as a force of nature and Time as a physical construct.  The depiction of a 5-D world was pretty awesome. Jessica Chastain's performance as the adult Murphy was heartwrenchingly believable and utterly relatable (I think she's really the one who brought the movie home, not Matt McConaughey).

The Bad:  It wasn't strikingly original in that it borrowed heavily from a huge number of movies other than 2001:ASO (most notably Signs, Contact, and Event Horizon, but also Field of Dreams and Titanic...yes, Titanic).  The first hour was slow and there were tons of plot holes, The audio was weird (sometimes it was hard to hear the dialogue over the background noise). Anne Hathaway's acting...insert frowny face symbol here.

Instellar's cool depiction of 5D time and space.

With that said, this film can not be properly analyzed without gleaning the underlying meanings woven into its script.

First, let's go ahead and get the mythology out of the way, starting with the corn.  Corn abounds in Interstellar. Dystopian farmers work acres upon acres of corn fields and NASA is housed in an underground corn bunker.

Cooper and daughter Murphy standing in front of their corn field. 

And, since it's the only plentiful food source left on Earth, we see the Cooper family eating meals consisting of all-corn dishes—corn casserole with a side of corn fritters to be exact. Yuck, if you have to eat that everyday.

1. The Mythology of Corn

Corn growing out of the body of Osiris

The ancient Egyptian's regarded their god Osiris as a corn god.  For them, the death and rebirth of the god was personified in the annual growth cycle of the corn crops.

2. The Mythology of Okra

Shango  is the Yoruba African god of storms. One of his favorite ritual feast foods is okra. Quentin Tarrantino drew on the myth of Shango for his movie Django Unchained.

At one point in Interstellar a farmer burns the last okra crop, then towards the end of the film Cooper's daughter Murphy burns down the corn fields. This could be interpreted as a rebellious act of rejecting ancient spiritual wisdom in favor of technology.

An adult Murphy setting the corn fields on fire in Interstellar

Honestly, I think Interstellar may have been Nolan's answer to Tarrantino's Django Unchained (note: that movie ends with Django burning down the Candyland plantation).

Murphy after burning the corn fields (left); Django after burning down Candyland (right).

3. The Mythology of Osiris and Isis

Osiris and Isis

We've already discussed how Osiris was a corn god.  This brings us to the famous Egyptian myth of Osiris, Set, and Isis. In short, Osiris' brother Set seals him in a coffin until he suffocates (note: he can't breathe) then throws the coffin in the Nile River. Osiris' wife Isis eventually finds the coffin where it landed in a tree and resurrects him, but then Set kills him again by chopping him up into pieces.

Isis is often equated with the goddess Hathor. Thus, actress Anne Hathaway (Hathor-way) plays Dr. Amelia Brand who is the Isis character in the movie.

Anne Hathaway as Dr. Amelia Brand

I suppose Hathaway's archetypal resonance somewhat makes up for her dull acting in this role. According to the myth, Isis impregnates herself with Osiris' sperm post-mortem to continue their bloodline which explains why Brand/Isis is in charge of the artificially inseminated eggs on the ship.

The character Romilly (played by David Gyasi) represents the original Osiris. He was also clearly meant to embody the memory of Ronald McNair, the African American astronaut who died in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

Romilly (David Gyasi), left; Astronaut Ronald McNair, right.

But it's kinda hard to feel warm and fuzzy about that since Nolan blows him the movie. Holding true to the myth, I guess that's one way to portray Osiris getting divided up into bits.

Before that though, there's a scene where Cooper and Brand/Isis stand over Romilly/Osiris as he gets sealed into the ship's casket-like cryogenic sleep chamber.

The myth remains intact until the point when Brand/Isis ends up turning the valve to release, not Romilly, but Dr. Mann (played by Matt Damon) from the same kind of coffin/sleep chamber.

Brand and Cooper preparing to open Dr. Mann's cryogenic sleep chamber.

Therefore we are shown Brand/Isis "resurrecting" a new Osiris in Mann while the "old" Osiris, Romilly, stands by watching helplessly and is killed by Mann in an explosion shortly thereafter (Note: Romilly is also literally old in appearance and balding since he aged 23 years waiting for Cooper and Brand to return from their expedition.)

I was left feeling some kind of way about the ambiguous relationship between Romilly and Brand since before he died she sprung on him that she was in love with one of the original 12 astronauts from the previous mission named Edmunds. The myth veers off course here with Isis, supposedly the faithful wife and widow of Osiris, looking more like a trifling cheater.

Brand having an intimate moment with Romilly.

Dr. Mann represents mankind stuck and frozen in the fourth dimension longing to evolve to the fifth (note the label on his cryo-chamber reads "MANN-4").  However, he quickly proves unworthy to be the new Osiris due to his lying and treachery.

Mann tries to kill Cooper by cracking open his space helmet and leaving him to suffocate (note: he can't breathe).  But Brand flies to the rescue and resurrects the dying Cooper to become the newest new Osiris (just as Isis turns herself into a bird and copulates with the dead Osiris to save his seed in myth).

Isis in her bird form "raising" the dead Osiris

Sync Fact: Matthew McConaughey (who plays the role of Cooper) is no stranger to Osirian mythos. In case you haven't seen it, the entire 2012 film Mud is a retelling of the Egyptian saga.

McConaughey stars as a guy hiding out in a boat (read: coffin) that floated down a river and landed in the top of a tree (sound familar?). Furthermore, Nolan said he chose to cast McConaughey after seeing him in an early cut of Mud.

The boat stuck in the tree symbolizes Osiris' coffin in a scene from the movie Mud.

So there you have it.  The film Interstellar is less about reigniting an interest in space exploration and more a reworking of the mythological trope of ancient gods and goddesses battling for control of the universe.

As such, there is almost something sacrilegious in the burning of the corn fields at the end of the movie.  It's as if to say, we don't need to honor the indigenous people of the Earth, their knowledge, or traditions because, hey, we sling-shotted ourselves uninvited into sacred darkness and solved the problem through technology and true grit GRRRRR!

To which I simply ask, how is the hubris of that train of thought any different than Dr. Mann's selfish folly?  It isn't. Plus there's the way the men overrode Brand's feminine spiritual love instinct to follow faulty human logic instead. And that's why I believe mankind on Earth in Interstellar failed to get inducted into the Galactic Federation for the fourth time. Bummer.

There has been a bit of controversy over the lack of minority roles in the movie, particularly black females. However, I posit that may be because, in a sense, there is one gigantic black female eclipsing the entire film...the black hole itself.

The beautiful black hole in Interstellar, or as I like to call her, The She.

The black hole serves as a symbol of the divine feminine, the Dark Mother. Case and point, the ejaculating noises Cooper makes as he "enters" the black hole.  If you're still in doubt see the movie Event Horizon where there are also no black female roles, but the black hole gushes blood like it's giving birth after the phallic ship enters it.

An interesting theory is floating around that Cooper actually died after he ejected into space without ever reaching the black hole, and the events that transpire afterward are nothing but manifestations of a death dream.

I'm going to take it one step further and say Cooper actually suffocated to death on Dr. Mann's planet and everything occurring after that were manifestations of a death dream.  As proof, I submit the scene where Cooper is ushered into his 93 year-old daughter Murphy's hospital room.

A nurse tells Coop his whole family has been waiting for him. When he enters the room the family has their backs to him before turning to face him.

That scene was ripped straight out of elderly Rose's death dream scene at the end of Titanic where she reunites with Jack who hasn't aged just like elderly Murphy reunites with her father Cooper who hasn't aged.

Nolan famously used a similar plot device in Inception by hiding the faces of Cobb's kids until the end of the movie to indicate they may have been dead and/or that Cobb may have still been dreaming.  Note: Cobb's kids were also a boy and girl the same as Cooper's kids. (corn on the) Cobb=Cooper.

---Read Boston Mag's cool comparison of Interstellar vs. Inception
---Read how Inception's Dom Cobb also represented the corn god Osiris at The Mask of God

The takeaway:  The Universe as personified by the Triple-Black Hole (whole) Mother Goddess doesn't give a shit about material and physical things nor the blasé human concept of death.  Love is all there is, was, and ever will be. Love is the strongest force imaginable. As the movie's title suggests, this is an INTERnal struggle for us. Until mankind learns to accept, hone, and use our inner love instinct as our sole motivating guide for everything in life we will never evolve and may even become extinct...or forced to eat corn products in perpetuity.

No comments:

Post a Comment