I just saw ‘Interstellar’ with my 11 year old daughter, and we both loved it. There is not one but two brilliant female scientists in this movie. Even better for kids, part of this movie shows the genius mathematician as a curious, smart 10 year old.
When Murphy is a child, and when she is an adult (played by Jessica Chastain) she is never once denigrated for being a female. In both incarnations, she wears a shirt and pants, her hair in a messy bun. Her gender is a non issue in Interstellar’s dystopia. Do you know how rare this is? Let’s just say it’s almost unheard of and unseen in Hollywood movies for both children and adults.
The other female scientist, played by Anne Hathaway, is also not sexualized for the most part in costume, posing, dialogue, or narrative structure.
Yes, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain are Minority Feisty (I use ‘feisty’ as a singular or plural, like you’d use ‘fish.’) Most of the characters are male including great roles played by John Lithgow and Matt Damon. The robots have male names and voices. The protagonist of the movie is Murphy’s father played Mathew McConaughey. Murphy’s sister-in-law is so subservient to her husband, I rolled my eyes a few times. So the gender representation in ‘Interstellar’ isn’t a perfect triple H, but the movie exemplifies such spectacular storytelling, that it’s sexism is sidelined instead of the female characters. The narrative structure is so compelling, so well done, I want to see the movie again, just to study how the dialogue and scenes all build on each other, each shot leading to the next, brilliantly balanced like a house of cards.
Need more to recommend this movie? The special effects are outstanding. Visually, ‘Interstellar is not only gorgeous but depictions of a black hole, other planets, and the dimensions are fascinating to see.
Finally, the movie asks all the big questions, and will get your children to ponder them as well, such as: Why are we here? What will become of us? What is our destiny? What is the meaning of love? I’ve seen so many disaster/ end of the world movies, as I’m sure you have too, but never once have I seen the apocalypse portrayed as the human species going on to our next stage as explorers and pioneers.
I want to thank a real life genius, Lea Verou, for recommending I take my daughter to see ‘Interstellar.’ I don’t know Verou, but she follows me on Twitter, and her comments to me were so interesting, I Googled her (and now follow her along with 50,000 plus others.) I don’t even understand her bio, so I’m, pasting it here, because maybe you do.
My name is Lea Verou (Lea being short for Michailia or Μιχαήλια) and I’m a computer scientist / web standards geek / front-end developer / web designer / speaker / author, originally from Greece. I’m currently a Research Assistant at MIT CSAIL, in David Karger’s Haystack group and an Invited Expert in the W3C CSS Working Group.
In the past, I’ve written a book on advanced CSS for O’Reilly, worked for W3C/MIT, gave over 60 invited talks around the world, released several open source projects, co-founded a Greek startup called Fresset Ltd (which I left in 2011), and many other things. I hold a BSc in Computer Science from Athens University of Economics and Business, in which I have co-organized a 4th year undergrad course about web-development in the past. While my background is technical, I have a strong passion for visual design as well.
It goes on for a few more paragraphs. I’m writing about Verou here because clearly she is the kind of visionary that I hope more of our daughters will grow up to be. I think movies like “Interstellar’ will inspire them. My daughter looks lit up right now.
You always ask me what age is good for the movies I recommend, and I always tell you it depends on the kid. There are no sexual situations (no sexual situations!) in ‘Interstellar.’ There is no gore (no gore!) Yet in no way does the movie feel sanitized or whitewashed or “for kids.” (The theater was packed full of adults except for two teen girls.) Death is a theme, but woven through the narrative in a way that I think is beneficial for children to ponder. Personally, I think my 8 year old would be confused by the plot, so I wouldn’t prod her to go, the way I cajoled my 11 year old this morning. But if she wanted to go, I would take her, curious to see what she gets out of it.
Reel Girl rates ‘Interstellar’ ***HH***
Wow, first off thanks for the kind words about me, that almost made me blush! I’m most definitely not a genius though 🙂
Regarding the movie, I agree with most of your thoughts, except the part about Murphy’s sister in law. Yes, she was submissive, but in a gender-equal society, there would still be submissive people, *of both genders*. If all the women are strong characters, that wouldn’t be realistic, just like movies that portray all men as strong characters aren’t realistic (if they seem so, it’s because we’re so used to that trope — and men pretending they’re strong because society tells them they have to). And if any female characters are going to be subservient, it’s great if its minor characters like her. The only reason she sticks out like a sore thumb is that there are so few women in the film, just like most films (hence “Minority Feisty” which I agree applies here as well, sadly).
Personally, it bothered me much more when at a serious, life-threatening situation, Anne Hathaway’s character started a speech on love (seriously??) and wanted to make the less optimal decision to go to a different planet because her crush was there (seriously?!?). And we’re talking about decisions that could have altered the fate of humankind! The message this sends is “Women cannot be good scientists/rational because they are too swayed by their feelings”, which is an awful stereotype that I despise. But I still recommended the movie because I loved Murphy’s character so much, and she was way more important to the plot than Brand.
I agreed with the Anne Hathaway love thing at first, and also that she fucked up made me mad, it all happened at once. But it turns out that following love, love as crossing over time and space, is the key to the whole movie. Hathaway also turns out to be right about the planet she wanted to follow based on love as a beacon. So it was OK with me.
I see your point about the SIL but she had no lines, it is such a stereotype, and her kid was at risk and her lungs too, and still she says nothing really made me cringe.
Thank you so much for the rec, it made my day!