Perhaps I’m just over-sensitised to H.P. Lovecraft’s ideas, but it seems to me that the excellent new sci-fi blockbuster film Interstellar has some interesting elements drawn from Lovecraft’s fiction. I was expecting epic civilisation-building space opera on the Foundation scale, yet the film is anything but that. It’s much more down-to-earth, more of a deft melding of Sagan’s Contact and Clarke’s 2001 series. Click on to read spoilers…
Interstellar‘s mysterious ‘blight’ may be a result of eco-terrorism or a nano-tech disaster, or both. It’s left unexplained, so far as I remember. But the blight dust has a strong parallel with “The Colour out of Space”: the very long-term creeping nature of the blight, on a farm; the way it eventually starts to infect a family as well as the crops; and at the end seems to drive at least one of them to near madness. Then there’s the idea of multi-dimensional slippages and ‘hauntings’ in a room in an old frame house, resulting in apparently supernatural happenings that are in the end scientifically explainable — recalling “The Dreams in the Witch House”, with an additional plot element that nods to the use Lovecraft makes of the Library at the end of “The Shadow out of Time”.
Behind it all there are mysterious and intangibly multi-dimensional elder beings. Beings that are not knowable, are trapped in another dimensionality and yet are seeking a way through, which can (perhaps) communicate only via channels that operate at the most imperceptible and intangible human level of dreams and emotions, and yet are also immensely more powerful than we are (“The Call of Cthulhu”). Finally there’s the strong atheism that permeates the film. The viewer is left with the overall impression that — while there is room for awe and the sublime, for fear of the unknown, for curiosity and exploration — there is no longer any room in the human experience for supernatural superstition.
There are of course also non-Lovecraft nods to recent popular time-shift films such as Looper et al, which no doubt helped get the film into production. There’s even a very neat dose of contemporary political satire (the Mann character, a dangerously deluded scientist who misrepresents his climate data about a whole planet).