As Bonnie Tyler sang
“I need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero”
Apart from being intelligent, compelling and original (in its way), the main thing I absolutely loved about Interstellar was its timing. Interstellar does something that episodic television (the more popular medium for narrative addiction these days) simply cannot.
The late 1990s and post-2000 era have seen a renaissance for quality television programming from gifted showrunners. From Buffy and The Wire to Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, we are living in a new golden age of writing for television. With the current anemic state of cinema, audiences flock to television’s long, complex narratives that are skillfully woven, impeccably cast and brilliantly acted. So, what about movies? How are they doing in comparison? (Insert crickets, frogs, various boos, hisses and catcalls… particularly for domestic titles).
Not so fast! There have been some pretty amazing (and, even some brilliant) films in the last 15 years, but they are fewer and farther between than ever before. This is, no doubt, attributable to the status quo methods and dictates of the studios (small cogs in much larger multinational machines). Ned Beatty’s legendary “Money Speech” summarizes this exclusive focus on the bottom line rather well.
“There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and A T & T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state — Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale! It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war and famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.”
What wonderful, brave, honest and amazing dialogue from Paddy Chayefsky and tour-de-force delivery from Beatty. Chris Nolan is similarly brave and honest with his newest baby (and most impressive film), Interstellar. The IMAX experience along with this gripping survival narrative comes just when cinema needs a hero the most. The experience creates an environment and a world that is deeply immersive and highly addictive; our senses are seized and our imaginations are limitless.
Keep fighting the good fight Christopher Nolan.