Now you might not think a dystopian future with humanity on the brink of extinction, space travel, wormholes, black holes, ice planets and astronauts are your typical date night movie but let’s actually look at all of the facts here! If you and your date/partner/spouse are somewhat intelligent (and as you’re reading this website, I must assume that you are) and want a movie that makes you think and aren’t just there for the kissy-feelies, well, then, you’re in luck.
Interstellar as already mentioned takes place on an Earth in the not too distant future that has become increasingly hostile to humanity. The planet has been ravaged by a “blight” that has gradually and over time consumed all of our regular food staples, leaving corn as the only farm food available to us (I’m assuming, although its not mentioned that fishing and livestock are still options, although one would assume both would be in more and more limited supply). Dust storms ravage the land with clouds literally blanketing the horizon and it in this setting that our story takes place although it eventually takes us to lands even stranger.
Matthew McConaughey’s character (Cooper) is a failed astronaut and a widower living with his father in law, son and daughter on a farm in the American Midwest when he manages to decode a signal literally written in the dust. This message leads to a hidden NASA base where Matthew meets his old Professor and mentor played by Michael Caine (Professor Brand). Brand has been searching for a way to save humanity and informs Cooper that NASA has been receiving signals from somewhere near Saturn. These signals & gravitational anomalies led them to a wormhole through which they dispatched a ship to see if there was any possibility of finding another home for humanity. They have determined that on the other side there are three planets that could be possible refuges’ and they need Cooper to take another shuttle and team to find the right home so that humanity can survive.
I guess you could say that while the graphics and cinematography are exceptional and the slow burn to a eventual climax is quite good – this is just your standard, run of the mill SciFi movie isn’t it? What makes it a good choice or option for Valentines Day? Well, I think the answer to that question will be a bit clearer below when we explore a little bit about the history of Valentine’s Day, where it came from and realize that it isn’t just about romance but it is about love.
J.C. Cooper, in The Dictionary of Christianity, writes that Saint Valentine was “a priest of Rome who was imprisoned for succouring persecuted Christians”
There is an additional embellishment to The Golden Legend, which according to Henry Ansgar Kelly, was added centuries later, and widely repeated. On the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he would have written the first “valentine” card himself, addressed to the daughter of his jailer Asterius, who was no longer blind, signing as “Your Valentine.” The expression “From your Valentine” was later adopted by modern Valentine letters. This legend has been published by both American Greetings and The History Channel.
When you’re seeing Cooper and his young daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy playing young Murph) stumble into humanity’s last efforts to avoid extinction, it’s just a parade of tropes and contrivance and feels tired and old. Once Cooper leaves Earth however? Well that’s where the story really begins and beauty takes over. Nolan is nothing if not experienced in showing how men are simply that … not gods or supreme creatures, but flawed individuals who make mistakes and when it’s infused with a dash of impending doom it’s taken to particularly sinister places.
Cooper is an ambitious dreamer – someone who’s either a century too late or a century too early and is stuck in a dead end role as a farmer. He sees no real hope for adventure and when he gets an opportunity to travel back into space, he really doesn’t think too long and hard before jumping at it regardless of the impact it will have on his family. However over time while he’s on the mission he gradually comes to realize that his acknowledged rationale for going – to give his daughter and family a future – is in reality the true reason that he is there. His love for his daughter and family drive him when he should have died many times over and while it is not a romantic love, it is a love for family that truly makes him reach the prize.
Brand’s daughter (played by Anne Hathaway) meanwhile is on the shuttle with Cooper and while her romantic interest for one of the earlier (unseen) astronauts from the first mission is acknowledged – she does not let this entanglement get in the way when a hard decision needs to be made.
In addition to Cooper’s love for family, you can’t discount the sacrifice made by Professor Brand to ensure that not only does his daughter survive him – but by making this mission possible he can save humankind itself. There is no greater sacrifice than the one that Brand makes.
So as you can see, while you might not have the “normal” romantic reasons to think that this movie is your standard Valentine’s day movie – all of the standard elements that you would expect to see are actually there, in addition to which you can add a whole host of other factors and one of the most graphically intense and enjoyable movies currently in the theater!