Monday, November 17, 2014

My [SPOILERS] Problem with Interstellar's Ending

In case you didn't know, I'm a huge science fiction fan. Not only do I write Sci-Fi, I have been reading it for years and am one of those devoted people that will read, though I don't always comprehend, any article on space and related sciences that happens to drift past me. It's an obstacle when I'm researching a client's blog post and happen to look for information on ScienceDaily. Ugh, that website has stolen many hours of writer-pay from my wallet. Anyway, eager to throw more of my time and money at anything science and space related, my husband and I went to see Interstellar. If you are reading this, I hope you too tossed your time and money at this movie, because otherwise you are about to get some HUGE SPOILERS. That's why I used all caps there. Because the SPOILERS BELOW ARE HUGE!

A brief, very brief, movie recap: The Earth's climate is ruined. Crops are failing. People are starving. Turns out they are starving intellectually as well, but that explanation would make this post too long. Anyway, a group of bold adventurers seek out new worlds to inhabit via a mysterious wormhole. The lead, Cooper, (Matthew McConaughey) has to leave his kids, specifically his adorable and sad daughter, Murph, (Mackenzie Foy--younger version--and Jessica Chastain--older--and Ellen Burstyn--oldest) behind to jump through the wormhole. If you need a more in-depth explanation check out this article from Screen Rant, because Ben Kendrick has gone all out.

This blog post also isn't about science or plot problems with Interstellar  but if you really need some of that, well, I am to please. Check out this article: 21 Things in Interstellar that Don't Make Sense

This post is specifically about how much the ending of Interstellar annoyed me. As I explained, Cooper leaves his heartbroken daughter Murph in order to go save the world. He then goes through a wormhole on this dangerous mission. The whole time he is gone, he regrets leaving his daughter. She ages. He doesn't. She refuses to speak with him through video messages. Until, she finally does. It's devastating. Cooper sees her message and her message to another scientist and cries. He is really upset. (I am really upset.) He wishes he had stayed. (I wish he had stayed!)

And when he then drops into a black hole in a last ditch attempt to save the world and his daughter, he is able to view and revisit their last father/daughter moments together thanks to some complicated space stuff you can read HERE. Cooper then yells at himself, through complicated space/time fifth dimensional stuff not to leave to, "Stay!" Wow. That really got me. I mean, I'm a parent. I get it. Seriously, Cats in the Cradle, Little Boy Blue and the Man in the Moon tears here. Sometimes we have to leave our kids in order to work, or save the world, and it sucks. But, hey, it's okay. Well, sort of.

Murph and her father communicate through time and a really weird 5th dimensional bookcase. She figures out that he was always there, reaching out to her, trying to communicate. Through books. I get that too! And in the end, Cooper is delivered back in time. Just in time to witness his daughter--who is put into hypersleep or cryosleep or some kind of stasis in order to meet up with him around Saturn--die. Yep. Big tears here. He missed her Prom, all those birthdays, wedding, kids, grandkids, but he
gets to be there for the last moment of her life. He gets to support her this one last time. My heart was breaking. I mean, bravo Interstellar for making a movie that didn't have your typical male/female centered love trope. This was all about parents. Not just Cooper and Murph but Amelia and her father, Professor Brand (Michael Cane). The wonderful father/daughter relationship took center stage.

And, yeah, there was some sexual tension between Cooper and Amelia (Anne Hathaway) but the audience was told early on that she was actually in love with someone else. Cool. Different. Of course it's different. Jonathan and Christopher Nolan aren't some saps that write this cutting edge movie and then throw in the traditional male/female relationship trope. Not that I'm against that trope. I like it. I like men and women and them getting cuddly together. But it's nice to see something different. And that's what I was promised in this movie, something different. That's not how it turned out.

So, Amelia and Cooper separate so Cooper can go down the black hole and be spit back out, so he can return to his daughter. Amelia heads to a planet that might actually be habitable, the one where her true love lives. Yay! Everyone is happy. Even Cooper's daughter. She's older, dying really, but she gets to have her father with her for the end of her life.

I waited with my heart in my throat like a big sticky wad of Mild Duds.

Father and daughter are reunited. She's old but she still musters a spark of teasing for her daddy. He's still young but he sees her as his little girl. Stop! I'm all choked up here. They talk. Banter really.

A little disappointing.

But they still have this, their moment together. Could it get any more dramatic? For him to miss all those moments of her life, but to be there to hold her hand at the end? Apparently, it was too dramatic. Because as they sit there sharing their moment, she turns to him and says, "No parent should have to watch their child die." And she shoos him out of the room.

She shoos him out of the room, so that he can go and get with Amelia!!

That's right! The love of Amelia's life has died, leaving her alone. Gasp.  So Cooper hitches up his pants, steals a spaceship, and leaves his daughter. Dubs T F, people!!

I was furious. No way! He left his daughter? The whole movie was him regretting leaving his daughter, regretting not being there for her, and then he has one final opportunity to be there at the end of her life and he leaves to go after Amelia. NO WAY!

This part of my rant is where my husband says, "They set this up earlier when Dr. Mann (Matt Damon) explained how when you die you want to see the faces of your children."

So my husband's point is that Murph doesn't want her father there, because her children and grandchildren are there. Okay. Fine. Let Cooper (MM) stand in the corner and watch her die. She's only got moments here. It's not like it's going to really matter to Amelia/Anne Hathaway. Days are like a couple seconds to her! Thanks, wormhole. Cooper can at least stand there and watch her die. He can be there to shed a tear at her passing. He needs to do this! It's what any parent would do!

Couldn't find a photo of Ellen & Mathew's crucial scene
This is my problem with the ending of Interstellar  It's unrealistic. Forget the science. The whole idea that a parent would leave their kid when said child is dying, because the kid is trying to save the parent heartache, is more ridiculous than any of the points made on any post about science/wormholes/time travel/black holes. Just ridiculous. I know a family who had to watch their son die. You could not have torn them from that room with a wormhole or a black hole. Nope. And if the point is that she grew up and no longer needed her father, I am so with you. Hooray for her for growing up, but this is family. This is the central emotional point of the whole movie. He makes it up to her in the end!
It looked sort of like this.

Now, if your point is that Cooper (MM) needs to have another quest after his daughter dies and the audience wants to know what happened to Amelia (AH), I get that. So why not have Cooper, after tragically watching his daughter die, stumble from the room, crying. He runs into someone who
mentions Amelia and her sad fate. Intrigued Cooper wipes away tears and asks what happened. Then the person says, "Oh, she's trying to colonize a planet. We haven't sent anyone after her, because damn that wormhole is unstable." Cooper gets righteously angry. And he should. That's his friend out there. She shouldn't be left to raise hundreds of human embryos all on her own. He jumps in a spaceship--that he knows how to fly because he's fifth dimensional smart now--and hauls ass to save his friend. And, yeah, maybe now that Amelia's love is dead there might be a little something-something going on there, but it doesn't need to be said. Cooper doesn't need to abandon his daughter to get laid. Yes, that's wrong. And not at all fair. Did I mention I was pissed off at the ending?
I fail to see how this is relevant.

A better ending for Interstellar would have been Cooper watches his daughter leave this world. He gently supports her, grieves for her and with her. His grief should not be a blip. It should not be shooed from the room or the movie. In fact, it could be a motivating factor for him to save someone else he cares for. Maybe even Amelia. Really, Big Hero 6 did a better job with grief and loss. Oh, Sci-Fi, once again you fail to recognize the true breadth of human emotion.

I was recently speaking with some friends about going to a science fiction convention that happens to be, once again, on Valentine's Day. I was hesitating on committing to going, because I don't know how to bring up to my husband that I'm going to "abandon" him on VD. Again. One of my friends said, "That's because science fiction geeks don't have any love life."

Funny. And, just maybe, a subtle explanation for the ending of this movie.

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