"Interstellar" - An Emphasis on Science or Mysticism?

Since the opening of the new film, "INTERSTELLAR", we have a flurry of events, news features, products and promotions implying that there is some serious cutting edge science in the story and in the film making. They seem to have, at the very least, hired a scientist, a real scientist, to consult the motion graphics team on the physics of blackholes among other things. 

The science angle may indeed help create some buzz. Science lovers do seem to be trending a teeny weeny bit these days: Thank you Supernatural Sugar-Being. But I think the majority of film goers will be of a more faithful kind. Hence the need of a megadose of mysticism riddled throughout the story.

Matthew McConaughey, now a uber-movie-star-mensch (a well deserved status in my opinion) and superhero of the film starts out, as in his TV series "True Detectives" a skeptic, naturalist and winds up a mystic believer in invisible things that aren't really supernatural, don't you know, because somehow his personal mystical experience trumps everything he knows. That's the big statement of faith we seem to get from his recent characters: The God is Me realization, and the, I know it's true because I've experienced it - full stop. He's a smart actor and if he's making his ontological argument through his choice of roles, more power to him. 

It seems filmmakers can't create a science fiction movie without injecting it with a large dose of mysticism. Hat's off to the faithful. 

I know, it's just a movie, 3 hours long at that, and you may or may not find it enjoyable. I can say one thing however, "2001 - A Space Odyssey" it's not. Why does everyone who makes a space film have to try to equate it with Stanley Kubrick's iconic classic? Perhaps that's the only really great space movie? 

Don't be fooled into thinking that watching a movie is going to teach you anything about physics. Spend your time learning the math instead. 

As an old adman I get the marketing gimmicks, but it makes me shutter to think that our born again brothers and sisters are going to exit this film thinking that Einstein was a born again Christian at heart just because the physics tell us something vague about, wait for it, fifth dimensional beings who use binary code in dust or books falling off bookshelves to communicate with us. 

I can't do the math so I don't know how far fetched a theory like String Theory (but one example) is. But I can imagine that this film won't be shown in a parallel universe any-relative-time soon. 

If you are interested in how modern quantum physics may need proponents to exercise more faith than a religious fanatics, please spend some time well and listen to the following Rationally Speaking Podcast

RS116 - Jim Baggott and Massimo on Farewell to Reality

"The Science of Interstellar" by Kip Thorne

I haven't read the book yet, if anyone has let me know what you think.

And don't forget to click on and review the hyperlinks in this post. 


Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.