This past Tuesday night some friends and I sat down to watch the science fiction epic, Interstellar. I’d missed it when it debuted last fall.
Have you ever had a movie hangover, where the events stayed with you days after you’ve seen a film? That’s the effect Interstellar had on me. (Inception, a movie by the same director—Christopher Nolan—was another “hangover” movie.) Interstellar was written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan (at the right in the photo below) and featured Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine.
The science wasn’t the issue. I have A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle to thank for some of my early enlightenment on that score. I also had a really good physics teacher and a science fiction-loving father who indoctrinated my brothers and me early. No, the emotional story caused me to face ugly truths about myself—hence the lengthy pondering.
I won’t give any spoilers though I’m still processing this movie. But I’m reminded of a quote embedded in the following dialogue from another movie: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), written by Nicholas Meyer and Jack B. Sowards. (Sorry. I can’t avoid a spoiler. You might click here if you haven’t seen this movie and want to know the plot.)
[Spock slowly walks over to the glass and pushes the intercom]
Spock: The ship . . . out of danger?
Spock: Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many, outweigh . . .
Kirk: The needs of the few.
If you’ve seen this movie, or at least the 2013 movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, where (SLIGHT SPOILER) roles were switched, you know the significance of this scene. (END SPOILER.) So I have a question for you, a question also appropriate in light of Easter: What, if anything, would you be willing to sacrifice in order to save lives? Does your answer depend on how many people would be saved? Would the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few for you? I’m thinking of the premise of Interstellar and an agonizing choice one of the characters made early in the movie. (Click here for Wikipedia’s plot review of Interstellar, if you want to know the movie plot.)
While you mull over the questions above, I have to be honest and say that I’m not sure I would choose to do what the character in the movie did, though the need was great. Every selfish intention within me rises up. I’m not proud of this, however.
I’m painfully reminded of the fire fighters who hurried into the twin towers of the World Trade Center to help people during the terrorist attacks of 9/11. They did their jobs, knowing that death was a strong possibility as they entered the towers. Many fire fighters and other emergency workers died that day. Their heroic actions still bring tears to my eyes.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
It seems hypocritical of me to say that I’m grateful they were willing to do what I would have been terrified to do. It also seems doubly hypocritical if I turn around and blithely make a character in a story take an extremely heroic step that I wouldn’t take if I were in his or her shoes.
Sigh. Sometimes art provides a mirror I want to avoid looking into. But perhaps a long look is necessary in order for me to change.
Click here for a great post at Screen Rant explaining the science and ending of Interstellar. If you’ve already seen Interstellar, perhaps you’ll appreciate this Honest Trailer.
Have a wonderful Easter or Passover!
Interstellar poster from mtv.com. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan poster from leagueofdeadfilms.com. Star Trek Into Darkness poster from soulculture.com. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan photo from buzzerie.com. Fire fighter from firefighterfire.com.