Interstellar (now in theatres) is nothing short of an absolute masterpiece. It had me utterly enraptured from start to finish, and I'm still floating along on the cinematic high it generated.
All the talk of it being "flawed" and "imperfect" is entirely missing the point. For starters, no film is flawless or perfect. Any film of Interstellar's size, especially one so open-hearted, forward-looking and aspirationally wondrous, can all too easily be nitpicked.
From the very first glimpse, Interstellar has always presented itself as the kind of film that requires something of a leap of faith on the part of the viewer. To pull it down for that is positively churlish.
Regardless, the sheer tangible weight of the film renders Interstellar beyond such petty criticisms. There's plenty of time for that later. Now is the time to bask in the glow of Christopher Nolan's outsized ambitions, which are ably met by his filmmaking skill. With Interstellar, he has gone beyond the boundaries of our cinematic galaxy. This is a macro masterwork of the highest order.
A long-gestating project, Interstellar was due to be helmed by none other than Steven Spielberg at one point. That got me thinking about the other forms the film might've taken if certain other directors had made the film. Here I will speculate about those forms without revealing anything that the trailers haven't already.
Steven Spielberg's Interstellar
A scene from Steven Spielberg's 1982 film ET.
It's not hard to see what initially attracted Spielberg to this story - the trauma caused by the divorce of his parents can be felt in the "absent father" issues that permeate his filmography, and in Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey's Cooper is the ultimate absent father - he's in another freaking galaxy!
The relationship between Cooper and his daughter forms the film's emotional throughline. The strength of this aspect of the film was probably the most surprising thing about Interstellar for me - Nolan has stumbled in the past when attempting to lay out an emotional undercurrent for his macro-sized storytelling, but here I really felt it.
I don't think Spielberg could've balanced these elements as well - the man has little sense of restraint when it comes to pulling the heartstrings, which sometimes results in his movies devolving into overwrought sentimentality.
And you just know that Spielberg would've turned the tumultuous father/daughter relationship into a tumultuous father/son relationship. The guy just can't help himself. Spielberg would've had cuter robots too.
Tagline: "The Journey Home Begins at the End of the Galaxy"
Michael Bay's Interstellar
Director Michael Bay behind the scenes of his movie Transformers.
Nolan screened Phillip Kaufman's 1983 space pioneer drama The Right Stuff to the cast and crew of Interstellar before filming started, and the resulting film effectively builds on The Right Stuff's potent sense of risky and valiant exploration. Michael Bay also looked to The Right Stuff for inspiration when he made Armageddon, but the sensibility didn't translate quite as well.
The steady hand Nolan displays in Interstellar's is the antithesis of Michael Bay's frenetic style, and is key to the film working as well as it does.
Bay's Interstellar would undoubtedly involve a lot more CGI and even more lingering shots of women's buttocks. I have to admit I'm curious to see how Bay's 'sundrenched' aesthetic would translate to a different galaxy, but there's no way he would've signed off on Interstellar's austere machine and spaceship designs.
For the space shuttle scenes, most of what we see is from the perspective of onboard cameras, which considerably boisters the authenticity of these parts of the film, linking it aesthetically to the fantastic (and heart-stirring) 2007 documentary In The Shadow of the Moon.
That kind of restraint might've helped Transformers: Age of Exinction.
Tagline: "Earth Is Toast. Unless One Man Can Defy Space AND Time."
Quentin Tarantino's Interstellar
Director Quentin Tarantino in his film Deathproof.
Interstellar gets a lot of milage out of how of relativity impacts space travel. A lot of time is spent up in those spaceships, which allows for infinite pop culture-deconstructing conversations to take place.
Also I'm pretty sure I caught a couple of muted F-words in the print they showed us at the IMAX media screening earlier this week. It's hard to picture such malarky occuring in a QT take on the story. If I was facing the extinction of the human race and/or a black hole, I'd probably swear a lot.
I'd also be curious to see how QT would warp the story to ensure it climaxed it a bullet-ridden shoot-out.
Tagline: "This Motherf-king Solar System Ain't Going Down Without a Fight."
Judd Apatow's Interstellar
Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen in writer/director Judd Apatow's film Funny People.
The drama-driving conflict in Interstellar is a little grandiose for Apatow's typically personal stylings, so his take on the film would probably replace "extinction of the human race" as the motivator, and maybe replace it with "Throughout a multi-year space flight, Cooper (Seth Rogan) is advised by his mellow bud TARS (Jason Segel) on how to win over snooty fellow astronaut Brand (Katherine Heigl, who replaces Anne Hathaway when the latter disagrees with the production's plan to use actual footage of an collapsing star)."
Despite the reduced scope, Apatow's version would also be 169 minutes long.
Tagline: "Love Is A Black Hole."
Sofia Coppola's Interstellar
Director Sofia Coppola behind the scenes on her film Lost in Translation.
Interstellar's infinite backdrop provides a lot of, er, space for the kind of navel-gazing ponderousness that Coppola revels in. I'd love to see one of her detached, unflappable characters face the wonders of the universe and just sigh. Certain Phoenix songs would go well with a space shuttle launch and/or the end of time.
Tagline: "Our Galaxy Isn't The Only Galaxy."
Stanley Kubrick's Interstellar
Director Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I'm picturing an opening scene at the dawn of time. Apes discover tools and then violence. A weird rectangle shows up, but doesn't talk or walk around or anything. Approxiamately eight million years later, a similar weird rectangle shows up on Jupiter. Shortly after that, a computer gets antsy and sings a song. Then a lightshow.
Tagline: "The Ultimate Trip"
* What could be some other takes on Interstellar? Seen it ? Awesome right? Bask in its glow! Bask!