The Corner


Just What Are the Politics of Christopher Nolan’s New Film, Interstellar?

Director Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight frequently lands on lists of “most conservative” movies. The War on Terror played out on the streets of Gotham with the Caped Crusader as a stand-in for President George W. Bush. Here’s mystery writer Andrew Klavan in the Wall Street Journal:

There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past. And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell. “The Dark Knight,” then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year’s “300,” “The Dark Knight” is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.

So what will we make of Nolan’s new film, Interstellar, out next week? The basic plot, I guess, is that Earth is dying, and we need to find a new home out there. (Matthew McConaughey plays an engineer-astronaut.) Sounds a bit like the same sort of left-wing environmentalism that gave us The Day After Tomorrow.  But that sounds too obvious and easy for Nolan. Check out this clip from the film and tell me its politics:

Is Nolan making  a point about the Common Core? Fiscal austerity? Or just about the belief that we need to focus exclusively on problems here on this planet and forget about space exploration?  That last one affects folks on the left and right. You have liberals who think NASA dollars might be better spent on universal pre-K. And just the other day the Federalist ran a piece calling the search for extraterrestrial life a simple waste of money. My guess is that Interstellar will make a strong case that whatever problems man’s technological advancements have caused, the solutions will be found in more exploration, invention, and innovation.

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