*Warning contains spoilers: Darth Vader in Dutch means dark father*
Last Sunday night I enjoyed several bowls of my favorite cereal, drank plenty of coffee, and then saw Christopher Nolan's newest film, the nearly three hour long sci-fi epic Interstellar. Among the many emotions that I experienced, during and then after, as I attempted to sprint out of the film, one feeling shoots out above the rest. I felt disappointment. Regret actually. Why hadn't I finished my story? How did Nolan read my mind and steal from me? Was time travel involved? Why was this everything and beyond what I'd spent my early twenties dreaming? Why hadn't I sat nearer to the isle? Will the handicap stall be open? Will it have toilet paper? These thoughts were my narcissism, classical to point of bordering on religious or at the very least predating Ptolemy, transcending reason and the limits of our physical understanding of existence into a metaphysical explanation and socially accepted self protection. I left the theater in a leaned back power walk responding to a master piece and the inevitable result of consuming coffee and bran before a movie. In Nolan's work I'd seen what I had hoped to capture in my own, and there in my place of violent explosions of regrettable animal solidarity I had to reckon with the reality of my creative impotence, his unapproachable genius, and how to discretely exit without self implication.
Three weeks before I was in a small city on the Atlantic Ocean called Chipiona next to the largest light house in Spain when one of our travel companions Dave (I've changed his name here because that's what people call him. His real name is David.) Dave once again observed that he'd been forgotten. The day before he'd found at least three instances where he was left out or overlooked. Having spent most of my trip carefully gathering stories about the tyranny of power and bad design as I went through TSA, and also having spent a good amount of time watching political strife unfold between the inhabitants of two nine passenger vans, I was suddenly struck with the idea that maybe my weeks of brooding about Michael Brown, the police in Ferguson, and systems of power in general were influencing my interpretation of my experiences. "We see what we look for," I said.
He stepped back and leaned on a wall behind him deep in thought and said, "that's very profound."
And so I said, "Will you write a version of it? It's vitally important for a profound person to make sure someone else records their dialogues. Otherwise, they... uh... I... I'd look narcissistic." Only I didn't say that because it's offensive to point out something so obvious.
Interstellar is what we look for in a Hollywood movie. In story terms, it's bracketed; Mysteries are opened at the beginning and solved at the end. Everything is explained except one. And, it ends happy and optimistic. But, like Inception, the perfection of the story's happy closure begs the same basic critique of all Hollywood movies. That critique is that Hollywood movies put impossible endings on movies to make money and therefore cannot be as important as literature. But, both of Nolan's Inception and Interstellar dare you to watch the endings and say, "that wouldn't happen," and look closer until you want to look away from what's bleeding between the lines. You say, "only in a dream world or a near death experience would anything end so neatly," and the movies respond, "if you say so."
In the film's opening, Cooper, Interstellar's protagonist played by Mathew McConaughey, crashes his spaceship and dies. My wife's friend Marianna mentioned that idea through text message while my wife and I had drinks after the movie and my mind shat. Even though I've subsequently found out that that's not at all what she was trying to say, the idea nevertheless splattered in my mind; his spaceship is tumbling on reentry in the second scene of the film. He is certainly about to die because a spacecraft tumbling on reentry is seconds from pulling apart, and so in the moments before his impending death, the rest of the film occurs. Matt Damon's character even lays it out for him. The mind refuses to see it's own death even moments before the inevitable. His deepest desires and his children and their future and the future of the world flash before his eyes until he sees the impossible occur; everything worked out well and the world went on... and then the screen goes black because he's fucking dead... so fucking dead... like our dreams of a better tomorrow where we aren't dead. Nolan simply leaves out the part where M. Night Shyamalan might clue you in to the fact that we're all dead and soooo f***ed, and you leave the theater and live the rest of your life believing what you wanted to believe. The world will be fine. We are the world. The physically impossible can occur. The will of the super natural is guided by us in the future. We are the others. God loves us. We are images of God in human form. This suit jacket looks fantastic on me. Can you believe what she's wearing?