A few decades ago, visitors driving into Huntsville were greeted by a colorful roadside billboard boldly proclaiming that they had just entered the “space capital of the universe.”
That sounds like a bit of an exaggeration, doesn’t it? Sure, the city had a lot to be proud of during those early years of space exploration -- Werner Von Braun’s headquarters, Jupiter rockets, Atlas boosters and such -- but declaring universal dominance, literally, is perhaps a little audacious.
But maybe audacity is exactly what’s needed to reach the stars, and a new film from Christopher Nolan might be just what’s needed to inspire it. “Interstellar” shows how love and fear finally push mankind to undertake an unpopular, unproven and risky leap into the universe.
Matthew McConaughey plays an astronaut-turned-farmer in a future where a crop disease has decimated our food supply. Nations are struggling to feed their citizens amid a global dust bowl. Governments have cast aside extravagances like research and development in favor of necessities like food and water. But along the way mankind turned its back on the stars, science and ultimately, its own potential.
“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars,” McConaughey’s character says from the porch of his farmhouse. “Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”
The story takes off from there, taking viewers on an exploration of mind-bending theoretical astrophysics and the familiar complexities of the human heart. While it’s certainly an entertaining ride full of stunning visuals, there are some important lessons to be learned, and about more than just time dilation and worm holes.