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Preetam Kaushik

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A Wormhole of an Anticipation for Nolan's Interstellar

Posted: 02/08/2013 05:13

Every single time there is a buzz about Christopher Nolan handling a project, whether it is as a director or producer, movie nerds go crazy like the lemurs in the film Madagascar. There's nothing wrong with that. The genius of a filmmaker who has given us far out plots to ponder over, like an amnesiac trying to avenge his wife in Memento, two magicians making unthinkable sacrifices to compete with each other in The Prestige, or a team of dream spies hacking into peoples' brains when they're sleeping in the more recent Inception, does not surprise us as he undertakes his next movie project - Interstellar, a sci-fi saga based on theoretical concepts dealing with wormholes and gravity fields in space.

The base concept - Although the film is touted to have big Hollywood stars like Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine and Topher Grace, the biggest star perhaps will be the imagination and the massive intellect of theoretical physicist, Kip Thorne. You see, Thorne is already known in the physics world as one of the leading proponents of Einstein's theory of relativity and gravity fields. This film, in particular, is based on one of Thorne's most "out there" ideas, that naturally occurring wormholes are traversable through time and space, letting them behave as shortcuts through what we sci-fi nerds call the "space-time continuum". Thorne, who was up until 2009 the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech, does reiterate the views of most contemporaries when he says that the technology and understanding of the influence of gravity fields in creating such wormholes is at least 20 to 30 years away, but his optimism chips in as he adds "...or sooner".

Change of guards - As surprising as it might sound, the "Nolan factor" is not restricted to the elder brother, Christopher Nolan. Jonathan Nolan, the younger brother of the famous director is a genius in his own right. He was the brain behind the short story Memento Mori that inspired Nolan's Memento, and that was a piece he wrote when he was just in college. It was Jonathan Nolan who also wrote the scripts for The Prestige and the DC universe super-hit The Dark Knight. It's the research and ideation of Jonathan Nolan and his pursuit of Kip Thorne's works that led to the first draft of Interstellar.

However, when the script was first written, it was Steven Spielberg, not Christopher Nolan, who was touted to handle the project as the director. That was back in 2006. Since then, Spielberg has reviewed the script and come to the conclusion that the story is something that wouldn't suit his style of filmmaking. This forced Warner Bros., the studio behind the project, to rope in Christopher Nolan.

The Christopher Nolan factor - Nolan has already shown his mark as a sci-fi legend by giving the world Inception. Even The Prestige had elements of science fiction, thanks to the sub-plot revolving around the machines of Nikolai Tesla. However, time travel has been a genre where big budget films have not stood up to the expectations raised by their hype. Movies like The Back to the Future trilogy, Looper or the Terminator series have successfully used the concept of time travel and yet they have left many time paradoxes unanswered. Compared to such high budget extravaganzas, smaller budget indie films like Timecrimes and Primer have found more acceptance among fans of time travel based films. Introduce space into the equation and you have perfect recipe for a science fiction space opera. A recent success in this genre, even though it left some loose ends, was the 2009 reboot of Star Trek. To cut it short, sci-fi fans are still waiting for a big budget film to handle the "razor thin ice" topic of time travel without leaving any questions unanswered. The way Nolan handled the subtlety of the human mind in Inception, paying attention to every detail, one can expect the same level dedication towards time travel. In every Nolan film, the central theme has been a character in itself. Amnesia in Memento, magic and deception in The Prestige, obsession in his film school project Following and even sleeplessness in Insomnia - all of these have humanized the themes. With Interstellar, one can hope that space exploration with all its wormholes and time jumps, will play a central role just like any lead character in any film. That's the least that can be expected of Christopher Nolan.

The Production so far - To trace the birth of Interstellar, we need to go back to a time when the famous Carl Sagan approached his friend Kip Thorne to go over the technicalities of time travel in his book Contact. Although Thorne was quite dismissive of Sagan's hypothesis at that time, the content did give him this epiphany - wormholes can be used as time machines. The fictionalization of time travel, has never been the same again. As of right now, ¬Interstellar has listed Christopher Nolan as the director, Jonathan and Christopher Nolan as script writers with Kip Thorne as executive producer. The score will be composed by none other than Hans Zimmer. Christopher Nolan is said to have rewritten parts of the script to include an "original idea" of his. We know nothing of it as yet but having witness his prowess in earlier films, we can only assume that the story will be such that it will favour sharp edits and fast paced and yet deep narratives. The shooting starts in Calgary, Canada this August and the movie is set for release around November, 2014.

 

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