Science fiction movies frequently offer stories at the intersection of science and spirituality, melding intimate human drama with larger-than-life themes and plots. Some of the greatest sci-fi movies have created enduring myths which have shaped the worldview of more than one generation of moviegoers. But they are not all created equal.
The new film Interstellar, directed and co-written by Christopher Nolan, bends the space-time continuum of Armageddon plot-lines. It is created with much of the hero worship of Batman Begins, the intensity of The Dark Knight, and the creative reality-twisting of Memento and Inception. If you’re like the vast majority of moviegoers and critics surveyed by meta-critic websites, you are bound to have a good time and give the flick two thumbs up.
But you are not reading this review in order to decide whether to spend $12 and a Saturday night on this movie. Since this is Integral Blog, you are likely wondering how to approach this movie from an Integral perspective or maybe what the movie offers an Integral worldview. I cannot satisfy those curiosities completely, but I will offer some salient observations.
In my view, there is no point to watching the vast majority of movies made every year (about 700 by one count), and who has the time? Indeed, most forms of popular culture entertainment are soul-denying wastes of time and precious brain cells. At the end of sitting through a typical movie, there is no greater or deeper extension of knowledge of the human condition or inspiration to make the world a better place.
I love very good movies. Very good movies are meant to be transcendent and elevating. They help wake you up without being preachy. They engage your feelings, mind, soul, and spirit in harmony. And great movies give you moments you will never forget and change your life.
Interstellar is a great movie. It is everything a very good movie is, and then it goes the extra mile. I don’t care if it has imperfections, whether it lacks humor or contains improbable twists, whether its characters are memorable enough or the music too loud. It’s not perfect.
Fortunately for you, I won’t bother rehashing too much of the plot. (If you are concerned about spoilers you might nevertheless want to stop reading now.) This is a movie review, but I’m not trying too hard. I basically want to put out only one idea: Interstellar succeeds because it is more Integral than the vast majority of films, and it is more Integral because it stretches the evolution of humanity in its own unique way.
In its first act, the movie establishes a setting of a human civilization which is teetering on the edge of destruction, apparently set only decades into the future (Donald [John Lithgow] has memories that seem pretty contemporary). We will leave this world through a wormhole into a world in another galaxy, we will find some way to remedy the problems on Earth, or not. We must evolve or die.
Many inferior movies have started from a similar apocalyptic premise. But Interstellar imagines that there is a team of scientists and ex-military engineers who have what it takes to turn things around — because enough of them have risen to a world-centric level of consciousness. They have put the survival of the species ahead of egocentric and ethnocentric needs and worked in concert to orchestrate a possible solution.
(And in an under-written moment, Brand [Anne Hathaway] wants to make a supremely important decision based on the idea that Love like Gravity and Time is able to escape a black hole. Substitute Spirit or God for Love, and you have the missing metaphysical or post-metaphysical connection to spirituality.)
I suggest that an Integral worldview concerns itself with matters impacting the species and world as a whole, and a movie interesting from a truly Integral perspective is going to show how characters from diverse types and developmental levels interact and solve problems that they could not without the participation of a wide spectrum of folks in multiple domains of activity. Capiche?
Interstellar is interesting by this standard. By engaging with the characters and story and tracking along with how they solve the mysteries they encounter, you have the opportunity to stretch your view of reality. You come away from a viewing wanting to take better care of the planet we inhabit. And you may even come away with a new way of looking at ghosts.