As a reminder, the
reasonable or willing suspension of disbelief is the
desire of the reader or the viewer to submerge themselves in
the context of a story and be carried along by it. We want to
believe but it sometimes just isn't possible. The moment that
the story doesn't make sense, the instant that the reader or
viewer is confronted with a flawed notion in the tale, or has
better information than the author or the producer, the
reasonable suspension of disbelief collapses, the
bubble pops, and the drama or movie fails, and the reader
or viewer finds themselves quite suddenly and unhappily outside
of the story. Put another way, the
reasonable suspension of disbelief collapses when you
stop believing in the story.
I have watched the film several
times and at least five things
stand out. First, we see another dustbowl
in the mid-west. But
the film is so focused on that blight-invested
area that it doesn't mention the situation in the rest of the
USA or throughout the rest
of the world. Second, the mysterious
wormhole that appears near
Saturn is connected to a remote galaxy. Hey, is there
something wrong with the Milky Way?
Third, the NASA rocket
launches from within the facility instead of from miles away
from people. Four, why would anyone
in their right mind pick a new world to inhabit that
is literally circling the drain?
What is the life expectancy
of a planet orbiting a black hole?
Give me a break. And five, you can't pass through a
wormhole. Duh? This film is unbelievable unbelievable
and, oh yes ... unbelievable.
by Christopher Nolan.
2014 Paramount Pictures
By focusing solely on the drought
ravaged mid-west, Jonathan
and co-writer Christopher Nolan
force us to assume that the same situation exists world-wide.
But they did not convince me. And the more they forced their
narcissistic argument upon
me, the more I resisted and the more unbelievable their story
became. I kept asking myself the question: are these farmers
stupid? Why haven't they put their crops
under plastic? Why aren't they growing in
greenhouses where dust won't blow away their crops and
water can be conserved by growing crops
hydroponically? I live a few miles from
Leamington, Ontario where an increasing amount of acreage
is being put under plastic
every year to provide vegetables year round. And in the arid
region of Almería, Spain,
a region so dry that it was once used for
spaghetti westerns, 135 square miles of land are currently
under plastic. In fact,
Almería has the largest concentration of
greenhouses in the world and has become
Europe's winter market garden. Greenhouses work and will
be used more extensively in the future. So, in
Interstellar, are these
hick farmers just stupid or did the
Nolans just assume we would be and accept their stupid
premise without question? Please. If
Cooper was such a good engineer, he would have thought
about putting his crops under plastic.
He would have considered hydroponics.
But the Nolans were
out there like Pluto and didn't
consider it. Oops. Too much sweat,
beer, and sun, I guess, eh Coop? And
pop goes my bubble
right from the outset.
And why in
God's green Earth would a mysterious
wormhole near Saturn
be connected with a another galaxy? Isn't the
Milky Way, our home galaxy with approximately
400 billion stars ample fodder to find another star system
in which to inhabit. Somewhere within our own
stomping ground there surely must be a
black hole or two. And it would have made the story much
more believable. But alas,
it was not. Pop.
And just open up a small door
at the secret NASA facility
not far from the board room and, lo
and behold, let Cooper
have a gaze at the large nozzles of the rocket planned to take
a crew up to the Endurance
spacecraft. How can this new NASA
launch their liquid fueled rocket from within their secret
facility without incinerating everyone who works there?. Don't
liquid fueled rockets usually launch from pads miles away from
the control room? Does Christopher
Noland really expect us to believe that one small door
will stop the blast when the rocket launches?
Sizzle and burn ... is somebody barbequing?
And why would you to colonize
a planet barely beyond the event horizon
of a black hole anyway?
The time dilation from such
proximity is bad enough. But how long does your planet have before
it is gobbled up? Wasn't the
purpose of the journey that Joe Cooper,
Amelia Brand and others took aboard
Endurance to establish a human colony on a habitable
planet so that a seed of humanity
could survive the supposed starvation of people on
Earth? So why would they pick a planet that is literally
swirling the bowl from the
outset. Duh? Pop.
why-oh-why do we blindly accept that we can travel through
a black hole to start with?
Even Caltech Theoretical Physicist
Kip Thorne, the science advisor to this film, states
that it is impossible to traverse
black holes. To quote him:
"The jury is not in, so we just don't know. But there are
very strong indications that wormholes that a human could travel
through are forbidden by the laws of physics. That's sad, that's
unfortunate, but that's the direction in which things are pointing."
Thorne goes on to mention that
"should traversable wormholes that allow for interstellar
travel exist at all, they do not occur naturally and must have
been created by an advanced civilization." To me,
this sounds more like Fantasy
than Physics. And, of course,
the Nolans bought into the possibility
and mentioned several times in the film that the
wormhole was built by "them."
And the big reveal
by Cooper is the realization,
more out there like Pluto
than anything logical, that the fifth
dimensional beings that created the
tesseract in which he and
TARS find themselves, the "them"
sometime in the future. Right. Sure.
You bet, Coop. Pop.
Theoretical Physics debates what kind of universe we
live in. Lee Smolin talks
about it extensively in Time Reborn.
He pits the Boltzmannian
universe against the Leibnizian
universe. I came away from his book with the belief that we exist
in a Leibnizian universe.
In the film, Cooper jettisons
himself and TARS into the
black hole so that
Amelia and CASE can
complete the mission. And he eventually finds himself in an
extradimensional tesseract depicting his
farmhouse study, in frames
of Leibnizian time, in which he sees his daughter
Murphy and sometimes even himself. But communicating
with gravity waves was a stretch. Let's ignore the fact that
the arrow of time only goes
forward. Let's ignore how gravity supposedly is able to travel
back in time. But what cannot be ignored is how
Cooper is able to magically
use gravity to push books off shelves, leave messages
in falling dust, and tap out messages on the second hand of
Murphy's watch. Really?
Was there some kind of modem
in the film that I couldn't see that converted
gravity waves into God knows
what? This is such a stretch
of the reasonable suspension
of disbelief that I wrenched
my neck. Pop.
oh, did anyone else with a science background cringe
when Murphy shouts the word
Eureka and throws her
pages of calculations over the balcony because she has finally
proved the formula for gravity. To quote
Isaac Asimov, Ph.D. Columbia, Associate Professor of
Biochemistry, lecturer at
Boston University School of Medicine,
and noted Science Fiction
author, "The most exciting
phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries,
is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny.'" I just cringed
when I heard Murphy's exclamation.
has good acting
and production values although bleak. And it elicits deep emotions
because it takes seventy-six years
for Cooper to return
from his voyage to his daughter Murphy
because he promised, who, by then, is on her death bed;
whereas, he has barely aged. The concept of
time dilation was done well as was the depiction of
frames of Leibnizian time within a
tesseract although shockingly out of place during a journey
through a wormhole. The two
robots: CASE and
TARS were interesting, although their designs were dreadful.
But not much else succeeds. Like a well-typed essay that receives
a failing grade because it is filled with spelling errors, there
is so much wrong with Interstellar
that it gets in the way of the story. Given that the
science is wrong in so many ways, is there really a
Science Fiction story there at all? Science
gobbledygook doesn't pass for
Science Fiction. I've said that for years. And
Interstellar is all
gadget, gimmick, and gizmo. It is just bad and fails
miserably to maintain a reasonable
suspension of disbelief. In fact, my
reasonable suspension of disbelief popped so often that
I wanted to put butter and salt
on it. I'm sure this film will be used in script writing courses
as an example of how not to write for this
so popped I'm pooped ... popcorn anyone?
Kip Thorne's comments in Rhodi Lee's article Wormhole Travel
in 'Interstellar': Improbable but not Impossible: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/20975/20141127/wormhole-travel-in-interstellar-improbable-but-not-impossible.htm.
Giles Tremlett's article Spain's greenhouse effect: the shimmering
sea of polythene consuming the land: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/sep/21/spain.gilestremlett
learn more about the Boltzmannian universe vs. the Leibnizian
universe, read Time Reborn by Lee Smolin.
learn more about Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics
read The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.
a history of Physics by a very skeptical Professor Emeritus of
Physics and Astronomy, read God And The Atom by Victor