Christopher Nolan’s latest space epic is probably the best film he’s ever done in my opinion. It gets quite a bit criticism thanks to the daring final act which requires some suspension of disbelief, which is rather similar to The Prestige. If you’re willing to go along with it though, you’re in for a thrilling finale which will have you reaching for the tissues. For me, Interstellar is one of those rare flawless films. I was monstrously excited to see it and even booked a seat at the UK’s biggest IMAX screen in London to see it and even though my expectations were astronomical, it still surpassed them. At 170 minutes long it gives itself plenty of time to pack in a load of memorable scenes. The following list is an Interstellar-styled countdown of my favourite scenes from this marvellous film. There are loads and loads of hideous spoilers here, so if you’re one of those weird people who read lists on films they haven’t even seen yet, you have been warned.
10) In the wormhole
If you were lucky enough to see Interstellar in IMAX then I won’t need to remind you how earth-shattering this scene felt! The whole building rocked and you felt as if you were going through some psychedelic super portal. Don’t worry if you didn’t see it in IMAX though. This scene (and the whole film, in fact) is just as stunning on your big TV and surround speakers at home. Just make sure that the neighbours are out!
9) Drone Chase
This delightful little scene feels like something from a Steven Spielberg film, only with less CGI. In fact, this showcases just how much more involving scenes like this are when they’re filmed for real. If you’re going to film a car chasing a drone through a cornfield then do it for real for gawds sake! Hans Zimmer’s electrifying score does a lot for the scene too. It’s an early moment which hints at the insane adventures our hero is about to go on and also beautifully outlines the heart-warming bond between Cooper and Murph which is the heart of the entire film.
8) "Do not go gentle into that good night..."
The first use of the do not go gentle poem is probably the most powerful. I think it is a perhaps a little too over-used and having Michael Caine repeat it on his death bed is overboard. Nevertheless, it is a great poem and an interesting one to use. I just think every element in this scene is perfect. I love the image of the Endurance out in space as Michael Caine reads the poem out. There’s also the hair-raising use again of Hans Zimmer’s score (you’re going to be hearing me say that a lot on this list!) as it creeps up louder and louder in a foreboding manner. I remember seeing this for the first time and feeling so excited about where this journey was going to take us.
7) Mann down
A lot of people don’t like the Mann character because they hate Matt Damon. Personally, I’m not fussed about Matt Damon and don’t really see the big fuss surrounding his appearance in Interstellar. Anywho, the revelation that Dr. Mann is in fact evil surprised me. The entire fight scene had me on the edge of my seat as we’re all rooting for Matthew to win. When his helmet cracks though we’re left wondering if he will win. It’s a thrilling sequence which only becomes more thrilling when we see an explosion and everyone scurrying to their respective spaceship in order to reach the Endurance first. After this sequence comes arguably the most exhilarating spectacle in the entire film.
6) Tidal wave
Visually, this is probably the most impressive part in Interstellar. It’s an exhilarating sequence from the moment we touch down on the water planet as we’re acutely aware that every single second counts. Anne Hathaway and the other bloke plod off to collect some data whilst Matthew gets agitated at the amount of time they’re taking. Suddenly, those mountains in the background get closer and closer to reveal themselves as waves! It’s an eye-popping moment and things get all the more thrilling as lovable TARS rushes off to save Anne just in the nick of time as the spacecraft rides the wave. It’s a set-piece, but who cares when it’s this good?
5) Behind the bookshelf
So far we’ve had a lot of action scenes, but for me it’s the more emotional scenes which make Interstellar as powerful as it is. This scene concerns Cooper who’s fallen down the rabbit hole and into the mysterious tesseract. When I first saw the movie I was incredibly confused as to what was going on, however the whole concept thrilled me. I can see why it doesn’t quite work for some people, but for me it’s perfect. Cooper has been filled with regret for the whole film at the thought of not seeing his family again and here he is behind Murph’s bookshelf and screaming her name. It’s such a powerful and painfully sad scene. The sequence in the Tesseract goes on for quite a while, but the whole time it’s just exhilarating. Hans Zimmer’s score definitely carries a lot of the power here too.
4) Leaving Murph
This is the scene which pulls at my heartstrings the most (tied with my number one spot) and I don’t even have a daughter! It’s just so emotional and a lot of it is down to the superb performances by Matthew and Mackenzie. When you think of Interstellar, you might think of its epic scale and adrenaline-charged set-pieces, but it’s the powerful human element which is the heart of the film. Goodbyes are never easy, but Murph’s reaction makes it even harder. When Cooper says, “Don’t let me leave like this, Murph!” my heart breaks a little and tears start to form in my eyes. I’d like to point out that I hardly ever get teary in films, in fact I can count the ones I do on my fingers (Dancer in the Dark, Amour, Brotherhood, Life is Beautiful, Requiem for a Dream and now this one) and they all feature one scene where I get emotional. Interstellar has several scenes where I tear up. It’s also terribly sad to see Cooper drive away in tears and even peeking under the blanket to see if Murph’s hiding there again. Once again, in this scene Hans Zimmer’s score is shattering.
I have to be honest. When I first saw Interstellar, this docking scene didn’t stand out for me. It wasn’t until I went around reading everyone’s opinions on the film around the interweb that I found out that this docking scene was so cherished. I think the reason why I didn’t take it in the first time around was that I wasn’t entirely sure what Cooper was trying to do. Everything happens so fast with Mann blowing himself to smithereens (I LOVE the use of silence here) and the Endurance being in jeopardy. So when I saw the film for a second time on blu-ray, I paid particular attention to this scene and can now see why it’s so talked about. Even Interstellar’s biggest critics admit to this scene being masterful. It’s just so spectacular with the Endurance spinning out of control and Cooper hopelessly trying to dock. You know he’s going to succeed, yet it still remains incredibly tense. This is probably my favourite use of Hans Zimmer’s score too. The organ is just so loud and commanding here!
It might be a little controversial to have this scene so far up on my list, but it’s my list OKAY!? Many people find this part unsatisfying because it all seems too contrived and sentimental to end in this way. However, I’ll never forget seeing this scene for the first time and just being so overwhelmed. I was not expecting Interstellar to touch me in places like this (that sounds wrong) and this part really pulled at my tear ducts. I’m getting a little teary now just writing this! I don’t find it contrived at all, in fact I think it’s essential that the film ended this way. If you’re still not satisfied then you can always go with the plausible theory that everything from the tesseract onwards is Coop’s dying delusions. After all Matt Damon did say that our children are the last people we see before we die, didn’t he? Either way it’s just such a powerful scene and also quite tragic that Cooper basically missed the majority of his daughter’s life. The fact that Ellen Burstyn is playing Murph is just the cherry on top of an already spectacular cake. She’s a bloody legend.
1) Messages from home
This scene succeeds in so many ways. Not only is the concept mind-melting, but the emotional impact is so so high. Out of all the emotional scenes in Interstellar, this is the scene that probably hits me the hardest. Cooper goes away for an hour and goes back to find that he’s missed decades of his children’s lives. It’s just extraordinary to see years of messages with his son marrying and having a child. Hans Zimmer’s score is once again blaring away over it all in the most delicious manner and crucially goes silent when Murph finally appears to deliver that heart-breaking monologue about her father promising to go back to her. When it cuts back to Cooper absolutely sobbing his heart out, that’s when I almost lose it. It’s just a perfectly crafted little scene which I can’t fault. The performances are also incredible here from Matthew, Casey and Jessica. Faultless.
So there you have it! It’s strange that in a film filled to the brim with spectacular set-pieces and very special effects, most of my favourite scenes are in fact purely stripped back and character-based. Yes, the tidal wave is jaw-dropping and the black hole is probably the best CGI effect in movie history, however they don’t have the power to move you like Matthew Mcconaughey watching a video on a tatty TV screen. My sister refuses to watch Interstellar because she doesn’t like space stuff or actiony stuff, which I think is tragic. If only she could watch and see that Interstellar isn’t much of an action science fiction film at all! Space is a mere backdrop. Interstellar is really an epic family drama about a father longing to be with his daughter who’s light years away from his reach. It really is a masterpiece. Please let me know your favourite scenes in the comments below!