Clayton’s Catastrophic Column: “Interstellar” makes me cry

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There are very few things in this world that make me cry. An extremely good hamburger has, and will force me to shed a couple tears. The series finale of “The Office” about sent me into a mental state of absolute insanity. However, no single event has ever had such a profound impact on me as “Interstellar” has, with the exception of my recent discovery that Applebee’s is offering unlimited fries with certain burgers for a limited time. Anyways, I would not hesitate to say that “Interstellar” is one of the most amazing movies I have ever experienced in my young life, though, if you would like to read up on some other opinions on the movie, two JagWire staff members have already written blogs on various parts of the film, and you can find them here and here.

This blog was originally going to be a couple paragraphs of me ranting about how amazing “Interstellar” was, including comments on the acting, visual effects, etc. However, after consulting with¬†JagWire editor-in-chief Katherine White,¬†we decided that there is one part of the film that has not been touched on very much, and that is the score. For those unfamiliar, the score of a movie is not a numerical value representing the cinematic quality of a film, but rather the music that is played beneath, or sometimes over, the dialogue and action of said film. “Interstellar” director Christopher Nolan employed his often called-upon friend Hans Zimmer to compose the score for this movie, as he had done for “Inception” and “The Dark Knight.” However, this score employs many interesting techniques that make for a unique experience both paired with the movie, and by itself as a stand-alone soundtrack.

For those of you who have already seen “Interstellar,” you know that the movie is filled with emotion, including many comments on the idea of human companionship and relationships. The score does an excellent job at conveying these emotions through the use of dramatic pipe organs, and many experimental forms of instrumentation, that combined with the performances of the actors create a stunning cinematic experience.

A common problem with many science fiction movies nowadays is that they lack the substance that comes with other more dramatic movies. Though they offer remarkable visual effects and action sequences, the score often ends up electronic, dry and pointlessly climactic in order to emphasize the action of the story, rather than its emotions. However, when Nolan called upon Zimmer to compose the score for “Interstellar,” Zimmer was never told of the science fiction aspect of the film. He was instead informed of various themes, such as the bond between father and daughter, humans’ need for companionship, etc. The result is a score that lies heavily on the emotions of the characters, demonstrating love, loss, death and yearning, as opposed to emphasizing the science fiction aspect of the film. Honestly, I was moved equally by the actors’ performances as I was by the emotional tension of the score. Listening to the score after having seen the movie, I can picture the exact moment in the film that certain songs occur, as Zimmer has perfectly captured the passion and sorrow behind the characters’ experiences.

Zimmer relies heavily on the pipe organ throughout the entire movie, an instrument that does not often get its moment in the spotlight, especially in science fiction movies. However, the teeth-rattling chords that seem to emanate from the depths of space itself create textures within the movie that could never have been achieved with use of any other instrument. The use of sudden crescendos and unique instruments and voice give the film an eerie, often uncomfortable tone, but that’s not a bad thing. Instead of simply using choirs and orchestras as they are intended to be used, Zimmer instead elected to experiment with various instruments and vocal techniques to create a uniquely surreal experience for the moviegoer. Wind players were encouraged to find ways that their instruments could make sounds that may have not been heard before, and choirs were not often told to sing notes, but rather Zimmer would employ his 60 piece choir to exhale simultaneously, or face away from the microphones to act as reverb for pianos. There is no way that the emotions and story behind “Interstellar” could possibly be contained within a basic score that is often found in so many films, so Zimmer thought outside of the box, and the result is something that is heart-wrenching yet empowering; familiar yet spectacularly unique.

All the aspects of “Interstellar,” including the heartbreaking performances of Matthew McConaughey and Mackenzie Foy, the visually stunning (and scientifically accurate) special effects, and of course, the score, combine into a three hour experience that I certainly do not regret staying up until midnight to watch.

So, if you ever see me walking down the halls with headphones in my ears, and you see me crying silently to myself, I’m probably listening to the musical masterpiece that is the “Interstellar” soundtrack. That is all.

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