Is Interstellar (2014) a western genre film?

The wilderness paradise is an internal landscape still relevant today in American culture. As a painter I love the idea of mythical landscapes. The landscape as an image can represent various emotional states. In depth psychology myth is special term because it’s a story that represents an archetypal pattern.

The quote from William Indick (2008) points out the basic mythic pattern, “Upon entering the landscape of the Western film, the viewer vicariously enters an American Eden, a wilderness paradise that is now all but lost.” (p. 14)  I believe Indick is saying that the pattern of this particular mythic landscape, originating with the Garden on Eden, is archetypal and based on a feeling-tone of a lost paradise due to misguided action. The landscape is a memory and also an ideal home to return to if you can manage it.

Director Nolan’s film Interstellar (2014) weaves together a complex narrative with several layers of this pattern. On a global scale the earth is slowing starving and suffocating all people. The earth paradise is lost because of people’s misguided priorities and now they are doomed to die – while still seeking a way to live. On a personal scale the main character, Cooper by Matthew McConaughey, is a single father who is separated from his children and has lost his chance to see them grow up but remains determined to return to them.

Another symbol that is similar and essential to the landscape in all three referenced myths, besides the male female paring, is the sphere. In the Garden of Eden it was an apple. In the traditional westerns Indeck (2008) mentioned the ‘last bullet theme’ (p. 20). In Director Nolan’s film Interstellar (2014) the wormhole represent the spherical symbol of transformation between realities.

Poem from film, Do not go gentle into that good night

by Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953 (source)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Reference

Indick, W. (2008). The Psychology of the Western: How the American Psyche Plays Out on Screen. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland.
Nolan, C. (2014). Interstellar. Adventure, Sci-Fi.

Categories: Writing

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