Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Is the Movie INTERSTELLAR “Good for Girls”?

Is the Movie INTERSTELLAR “Good for Girls”?

By Dennis D. McDonald

I had just published a glowing review of the movie Interstellar on my web site. I tweeted a link to the review and received a reply: “is it good for girls?”

I hadn’t even considered the question. The film does place female characters front and center. There’s nothing unusual about that these days:

  • McKenzie Foy as a 10-year-old precocious Murph
  • Jessica Chastain as adult Murph
  • Anne Hathaway as scientist-astronaut Brand

All are technically or scientifically inclined. For example, young Murph is a glowingly portrayed precocious 10-year-old who is being raised by her father, played by Matthew McConaughey, to be rational, scientific, and to think for herself. I especially enjoyed her time on screen.

Back to the question: is Interstellar “good for girls”? What’s really going on here? What are these characters really showing us?

One thing you have to realize about this science-fiction movie is that, as much as it is a science-fiction movie with gorgeously portrayed technologies including faster than light travel through wormholes, advanced robotics, and suspended animation, it’s really about relationships:

  • Young and old Murph’s relationship with her father and how it evolves over the film’s relativistic timescale.
  • Brands relationship with her father’s (Michael Caine) whose calculations are the basis for future NASA’s attempts to save humanity.

In the midst of all the movie’s fantastic eye candy these relationships are completely intertwined with what (I think) director Nolan is trying to portray: love and relationships transcend space and time; our ability to understand that will mark our ability to survive as a species, not just our technologies.

So, yes, I’d say the movie Interstellar is “good for girls.” Just as I insisted that my daughter see Jodie Foster’s portrayal of Ellie Arroway and Clarice Starling when she was younger, so too would I insist that a young person of either sex see Interstellar. 

Now, though, the female characters are on a much more equal footing with the male characters. They’re not fighting against a male-dominated scientific or law-enforcement hierarchy. In Interstellar they are dealing with the survival of the human race.

Copyright © 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald. 

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