Oscar Nominees 2015, Best Original Score (Part 5 of 6): Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar — 11 Comments

  1. Kudos for this excellent in depth analysis but despite being a film music journalist, composer interviewer and musician, so I know my eggs, I just cannot bring myself to purchase the CD (or CDs!) for Interstellar. I found both the film and scoring very underwhelming and certainly cannot attribute to it anything from the analysis here. It just left me stone cold. Is it just me?

    • Cheers, Saxplayer67. No, I don’t think it’s just you. It think there are aspects of the film that many find difficult to reconcile. What I mean is, the narrative of Interstellar is a mixture of extremes. On the one hand, it strives to be as scientifically accurate as possible yet on the other, it is at its heart a love story between a father and daughter. The fact that these objective and subjective strands are polar opposites can make the meaning of the narrative difficult to interpret, perhaps deliberately so. Are we to understand that the film actually espouses the old adage that “love conquers all”? How could we, when the only way that solution is able to be enacted is through the highly objective world of scientific knowledge? With the film’s meticulous attention to scientific detail, are we to understand that knowledge and objectivity are really the key to our future? Given that love provides the final answer to the film’s problem, it’s difficult to see it that way either. Maybe its message is that head and heart need to be balanced if we are to move forward as a species, and perhaps that there needs to be much more on the side of objectivity than there currently is. The film does, after all, make more than once reference to a public that would not understand the need for scientific endeavor at a time when the planet’s resources are quickly disappearing.

      In short, I think Nolan’s films are always complex structures that require considerable thought and/or repeated viewings to digest exactly what it seems to be saying, and even then, not everyone will agree with its stance. (Mikey’s comment below is a prime example.)

      • in reference to the “polar opposites” you suggest of science and love in the film, and that these needs balancing somehow…I believe Interstellar meant to suggest that these are not the opposites that most describe them to be, but a universal force. You can begin to explain emotions by naming chemicals and the reasoning behind them (to produce a successful species), but I believe the film intends to express that perhaps these are not separate at all…but a natural part of the universe, all encompassing thought, emotion, time, and space in ways we cannot begin to study. and to remember that it’s not the questions we are able to ask science, it’s the questions we havnt enuf knowledge to be capable of asking. yet.

  2. I think Interstellar is the only Chris Nolan film I’ve seen… What I do feel is that the film started out wanting to be based accurate scientific knowledge and then it turns on a dime, when the previously cold fish lady crewmember starts talking about love and having faith – but not in a context of faith in God (of Whom I am a believer). Then the film goes all 2001/Black Hole/AI on us (the latter two films I love) and the science goes out the window. The ear shattering music didn’t help the film at all, it actually spoiled it for me and I bought the novelisation, to get the whole story without the noise but overall, I don’t see why this film – and director/writer/producer – is so acclaimed. I love science fiction (more so older fare) and of course music and I don’t think this production did any favours to any of it. IMO of course!

    • > it turns on a dime, when the previously cold fish lady crewmember starts talking about love and having faith – but not in a context of faith in God (of Whom I am a believer).

      That is exactly the spot I felt the film inexplicably change as well and the reason why I thought the attempted fusion of reason and passion didn’t work all that well. I actually think the film works better as an advocate of reason over passion despite its attempt to be something of the opposite.

      • I think she was actually referring to Jesus, that’s what I got from her speech…she just didn’t say, the Hollywood people would have censored her anyway…God brought love to the world through Jesus, and it’s a much larger force in the universe than any scientist likes to let on…and in reference to the music, he chooses organs for almost all his expressions, I believe this is an important reference to what the movie was trying to express, we are all connected through God, across time, space, and dimension..and He built it with matter, space-time, energy building blocks, maybe someday we’ll be able to measure it, but unlikely…according to Solomon’s story, he was the most intelligent man who ever lived, but his knowledge was but a hairs breadth compared to God’s infinite knowledge

  3. For me the purported reason/passion or objective/subjective tension is a false dichotomy. I’m passionate about reason and science, as are the film protagonists. The passion for science, the passion to save humankind and the passion between the father and daughter are all manifestations of passion. They are distinct but interrelated, with each being a means to the other.

    I’ll have to think through how or whether that is well expressed musically, but the musical analysis should not be judged according to an artificial dichotomy.

    • I know what you mean, Murray. I was not suggesting that there is an all-or-nothing mentality to the reason vs. passion dichotomy, but only that when it came to making decisions in the film, the filmmakers seemed to be gnawing away at the idea that we should be guided more often by our emotions rather than a thought-out calculation. I think Brand’s speech about love being “something more” strongly supports this. The crew voted to go the rational route with Mann’s planet and look what happened – disaster that nearly killed everyone. Brand’s idea of following one’s heart because it intuitively feels right turned out to be a better decision in the end as the final planet seemed like “the one”.

      In any case, I dislike pigeon-holing things or creating black-and-white distinctions, and in this film, there is certainly overlap between reason and passion as you point out. I would simply say that the dichotomy we’re talking about concerns not whether characters are entirely filled with one or the other, but rather which side they prefer when making decisions.

  4. Unlike Interstellar, I think that the science fiction films that succeeded with emotion in a science fiction context were Enemy Mine, AI and Bicentennial Man. It’s a subgenre I call ‘science fiction with a heart’. This can be equally applied to the scoring of each, even though Jarre turns on a dime with the mixture of electronics and orchestra, with much dissonance and also beauty. But it works very well and is one of my fave scores (as are the other two I mention above).

  5. I was looking for an analysis for Hedwig’s theme and stumbled upon your blog. Then, after some more browsing found this article. I want to thank you for your work, it’s great information.

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