Saturday, 8 November 2014

Idle Fanedit Ideas: Interstellar

I watched Christopher Nolan's Interstellar last night.

It was an astonishingly pretty film with some great use of music - I really appreciated the use of the organ to give it a distinctive sound without resorting to classical music as so many space-faring films tend to do.

Unfortunately, the characters weren't great and despite the film being 150-odd minutes long, didn't get fleshed out enough. The dialogue was a lot clunkier than I've come to expect in a Nolan film, and it felt over-long.

So I've been thinking about how I might tackle this as an edit. The first thing would be to shorten it - I suspect this would be a case of a lot of little trims rather than huge chunks, for example the bits where Dr Mann and Cooper are off exploring could do with tightening up a fair bit. Ditto the opening is a bit of a waste, because while it's trying to establish character the characters aren't developed enough to make it worthwhile. Similarly, I'd want to cut or trim dialogue in various places, starting with every single use of that bloody Dylan Thomas poem. (It's an overused cliché anyway, but using it 4-5 times within one film is just dreadful, like bad teenage poetry about the death of a pet).

Another thing I'm certain about changing is the ending - the existing ending is typical Hollywood nonsense where actually making sense is less important than delivering a reassuring moment of closure. (Cooper's return happens at something like 50 years after his point of departure, given that Murphy is extremely elderly and close to death, and yet Dr Brand still looks to be the same age as when he left her in the ship.) So I'd choose to play up the Kubrick homage and have Cooper send his message to Murphy via the watch (probably trimming those scenes as well), and then place the ending just after the tesseract collapses in on Cooper, fading to white and then cut to black. No "Cooper's handshake", no happy family nonsense, just end with Cooper going through something that he can't comprehend and heading to an unknown fate, just like the Starchild in 2001.

A parting thought: Interstellar is, like Sunshine, a film in which a very good director presents a bunch of visually-excellent and generally-well-thought-through ideas about science-fiction and space travel, only to completely bodge things up sometime after the halfway mark. I don't know what it is about big-budget sciencefiction but it never manages to stick the landing.