I watched Christopher Nolan’s latest movie Interstellar over the weekend. Per usual, Nolan’s newest film gives viewers much to think about. One conclusion that people could make from Interstellar is initially discouraging for Christians. But in reality, that conclusion gives Interstellar, as a movie, a bit of irony.
For the sake of you readers who haven’t seen the movie, I will try not to give away any spoilers of the movie (but really, do yourself a favor and watch it). In the beginning of movie, Cooper’s daughter Murph insists that her room has a ghost that is trying to talk with her. There is also talk about an unknown “they” who are possibly giving Cooper and the astronauts a way to save mankind from earth’s dust problem (vacuum cleaners were strangely absent from the movie, likely because all the vacuum sellers had made a fortune and built their own Elysium). At the end of Interstellar, an explanation is given for Murph’s ghost and the mysterious “they.” The explanation is quite naturalistic (also strange, yet brilliant), despite the anticipation for a supernatural reason, leaving people with the thought that ghosts or other supposedly supernatural phenomena have a naturalistic explanation.
After watching Interstellar, I asked a friend what she thought of the movie. She commented that she liked the movie but didn’t like how the ending explained away the supernatural. I agreed with her thoughts, and I imagine that many people would walk away from Interstellar thinking, “See? You don’t need to jump to the supernatural to explain ghosts or things.” But after thinking about the ending, I find this conclusion to be a bit ironic. The reason being this:
The ending didn’t explain away the supernatural, because Interstellar ended with the words: “Directed by Christopher Nolan.”
This may be an obvious statement, but Interstellar is a film, a work of art. And works of art are made by artists. Great art draws you into its world by relating to your world in a believable way. Sad songs makes you sad because you can connect with the stories or feelings being sung, which are accompanied with melancholy music. A story draws you in with believable and (at least somewhat) relatable characters. But a work of art turns on itself when it suggests that there is no God. You have to chuckle at any art which suggests that the supernatural is illusory.
In the “world” of Interstellar, there is no supernatural (though it had to make a few “leaps of faith” to reach that conclusion). But before you get a chance to apply that idea to the real world, the end credits start rolling. Interstellar did not come from nowhere; a huge team of people put hard, intentional, and creative work into the movie. Eternity’s professor Mark Beuving would agree that Interstellar, as a work of art, actually functions as a mirror which reflects the ultimate Artist and Originator of all artistic forms.
So go watch Interstellar. Enjoy the cinematic beauty and intricacy that it is. Engage with the worldviews that the movie purveys. And don’t hold your breath if you feel like the ending explains away the supernatural; the end credits will roll shortly thereafter.