Dunkirk is hitting theaters tomorrow. Finally! It’s been three long years since we’ve seen a film from Christopher Nolan, so of course everyone is releasing their list of Nolan’s films, all rated from good to best.
I’m not going to do that. Not only because you can do a Google search and find dozens of those things (all with massively different opinions), but also because it’s hard for me to rate his films. It’s hard to decide how they rank across the board because I love each of them almost the same, but for different reasons.
There is one film, however, that stands above the rest, if only by a heartstring: Interstellar
Surprisingly, it’s not really anything to do with the technical aspect of the production, or even the revolutionary storytelling, although those are amazing reasons why the film is…amazing. The film score alone will bring anyone to tears, it’s such a masterpiece (can’t wait to see what Hans Zimmer has done with Dunkirk!). And you would think with my obsession with Batman I’d very clearly pick any one of the Dark Knight trilogy, but not even the Caped Crusader played by a brilliant (and brilliantly handsome!) actor could make those films stand in the same place as Interstellar.
Interstellar came to theaters during a very turbulent time in my life. My mom was battling terminal cancer and I couldn’t make sense of things. I had read beforehand that the original screenplay had been written when the Nolan brothers lost their father to cancer, so there was a morbid sense of comfort going into it. For a long time now, the movie theater has been a sacred place for me. In my heart of hearts, the theater belongs in the same category as libraries, museums, and if I may be so bold, churches. It’s a place of art and rest and ministry. As with any method of storytelling, my heart and soul have felt ministered to on several occasions through film. Countless times I’ve felt the Spirit move as though I was sitting in church or enjoying a sunset. It never matters the artist’s intentions; sometimes it just happens.
And it did that night. And every time since with this particular film.
Going back to what my family and I were up against, as too many families know, there was great distrust, fear, and doubt going on in my mind and in my heart. I was afraid of a possible distance forming between myself and God. I was afraid of losing sight of Him, or worse, being abandoned by Him. I was afraid He wasn’t actually listening. What He gave me in response to my fears wasn’t a sermon, but a story. A very relevant story about how a father’s love for his daughter transcended time and space and crossed dimensions unperceivable by human eyes.
Here was a father who, when greeted with a curse for his deafening silence and a demand to know when he’ll come back and make things right, can only express unseen heartbreak and love, not anger, in return.
Here was a father who when questioned about how he knows if his daughter will understand what he’s telling her, responds with complete confidence, “Because I gave it to her.”
And the daughter, who after years of bitterness and resentment for feeling abandoned, when she finally sees what her father was telling her all along, rejoices upon the discovery of salvation.
This was a story about a father who promises to come back and does.
I have no idea if Interstellar was intended to be a spiritual allegory. Even with the biblical references and the blend of science and faith, I hate to make assumptions. But I know that for me, it certainly is.
How many times have I believed my Father to be silent, only to realize He was never silent.
How often I’ve read His Word and how many years go by before I finally understand what He’s teaching me…but He knew all along I would get it. He has faith in me even when I have no faith at all.
All those moments I’ve believed God was absent in my life, only to discover He was there the whole time. A God who exists outside of the time and space He created. Who sees every moment of my life and is present in every one of them.
He is there all the time. And He will come back and He will save us, not because it’s possible, but because it’s necessary. Because He promised.
This was a message I desperately needed to hear at the very moment I heard it. It gave me hope as I looked into a very dark future for my family. Not many movies cause me to ugly cry in the car on the way home because the love I was feeling was so overwhelming. Even now, when grief comes crashing in, wave after wave as high as mountains, I find shelter simply in knowing He’s there, pounding on the walls of my heart.
When someone makes the claim, “This song/painting/book/movie changed my life!” – believe them. And if you haven’t had a moment like that, I would strongly suggest you bring some more art in your life. Every time I drive past that IMAX theater on I-25, I think “That’s where my life changed.” I know it must seem sacrilegious or superficial to some, but this is the truth. My life changes in many ways at many different places, and this happened to be one of them.
Interstellar will always be more than a movie to me. Is it really the greatest film ever, as my title suggests? That’s completely debatable. As of this posting, not many people have seen Dunkirk yet! 😉 But I know for me personally, Interstellar is a remarkable work of art that moved me when I least expected it, but when I most needed it. And for that, it’s the greatest film ever.
Love isn’t something we invented. It’s observable, powerful. It has to mean something…love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can’t understand it yet.