Interstellar Movie Review: a Journey through Science and Speculation

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Interstellar: A Cinematic Marvel Grounded in Science

The movie Interstellar is a 2014 science-fiction epic by Christopher Nolan that leaves the viewer asking, “What happens now?” Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Kip Thorne, assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of the movie. This makes the film even more impressive because this fantastic voyage is grounded in real science. Physicist, Kip Thorne, explains that “much of Interstellar’s science is at or just beyond today’s frontiers of human understanding. This adds to the film’s mystique, and it gives me an opportunity to explain the differences between firm science, educated guesses, and speculation” (Thorne).

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This thought-provoking movie is not only great entertainment, but it explains key differences between firm science, educated guesses, and speculation.

Cooper’s Mission: The Journey to Save Humanity

In the near future, Earth will be riddled with famines, drought, and disasters that are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor John Brand, physicist, and director of the undercover NASA, is working on two plans to save the human race. His first plan involves developing a gravitational propulsion theory, “to propel a mass exodus on massive space gravitational propulsion theory to propel a mass exodus on massive space habitats, while Plan B is a conventional launch of the Endurance spacecraft with 5,000 frozen embryos to colonize a habitable planet” (“Interstellar” (Film)). He calls on Joseph Cooper, former NASA test pilot, and engineer, to lead and pilot the Endurance, an expedition to find a habitable planet. After tearful goodbyes to his two children, Tom and Murphy, Cooper embarks on this journey to save humanity. The crew consists of chief scientist/biologist Dr. Amelia Brand, physicist/astronaut Dr. Romilly, geographer/astronaut Dr. Doyle, and robots TARS and CASE. After leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, they dock onto another rotating spacecraft and get ready to enter the wormhole.

Real Science in Fiction: Artificial Gravity and Wormholes

This movie, unlike other science fiction movies, provides numerous examples of real scientific concepts. One example used in Interstellar is that of artificial gravity. Artificial gravity is “the creation of an inertial force that mimics the effect of a gravitational force, usually by rotation” (“Artificial Gravity”). In space, artificial gravity can be created by spinning the spacecraft. As it rotates, it creates a force called the centrifugal force that pushes the objects to the outer walls of the spacecraft. This process of rotation is used to stimulate gravity but in the opposite direction. A problem humans face with long-term space travel is how zero gravity affects the body in a negative way. Human bodies are adapted to Earth’s gravity, and if they are exposed to zero gravity for too long, the muscles degrade. Since the movie spans over twenty years, the crew attaches to a rotating spacecraft to create artificial gravity to avoid degradation of the muscles.

Cooper and his crew soon come upon the wormhole, resembling a sphere, that will provide the channel needed for them to reach the planets in the next galaxy. Before entering the wormhole, Dr. Romilly explains to Cooper that “a wormhole bend space [in half] … you can take a shortcut through a higher dimension. Okay. So, to show that they’ve turned three-dimensional space into two dimensions, which turns a wormhole into two dimensions, a circle” (Nolan). They take off into the wormhole and are encountered with a rough ride and also something that was not expected. During the time through the wormhole, Dr. Amelia Brand reaches out and feels as if she has touched something. After exiting the wormhole, they find themselves in a region of space ten billion light-years from Earth. This galaxy consists of twelve potentially habitable planets located near a black hole named “Gargantua.” The crew only has enough time and supplies to explore three planets, Miller’s, Edmunds’s, and Mann’s.

Into the Black Hole: Gargantua’s Revealed Mysteries

The film depicts a giant black hole, “Gargantua,” as a black sphere surrounded by galaxies and stars, almost like the human eye. Kip Thorne made many educated guesses as he was studying astrophysics for this movie. Thorne delved into what he calls “the warped side of the universe,” and he was the architect of some of the leading theories on how black holes change time and space (Rogers). The computer models in the movie generated the distortion of stars, known as ‘gravitational lensing.’ The simulations were so accurate that Thorne and his team of physicists discovered that black holes have a bulge on one side and a concave on the other. This is the first time this has ever been seen. Because this was such a phenomenon, Thorne produced a scientific paper explaining the discovery. Many scientists have said that the black hole in the film is one of the only accurate depictions of what it would look like to a human.

Movie Review: Interstellar’s Dive into the Unknown

At its heart, Interstellar is a science-fiction epic that wishes to be grounded in reality. Overall, its focus is on simplistic robots rather than advanced androids, hypersleep, and space travel. As Cooper says in the film, “We’ve always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments are when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we have just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we’ve barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us because our destiny lies above us” (Nolan). The film tries to desperately retain a level of believability surrounding the many exploratory concepts. This thought-provoking film is not only great entertainment, but it explains key differences between firm science, educated guesses, and speculation.


  1. horne, Kip. Interviewed by Sheryl Miller. “Interstellar: The Science and Fiction.” California Institute of Technology. 30 October 2014.

  2. “Interstellar” (Film). Directed by Christopher Nolan, Paramount Pictures, 2014.

  3. “Artificial Gravity.” NASA, 19 March 2020.

  4. Nolan, Christopher. Interstellar. Paramount Pictures, 2014.

  5. Rogers, Kelsey D. “How Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ Gave a First-Time Astrophysicist His Break.” Time, 12 November 2014.

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Interstellar Movie Review: A Journey Through Science and Speculation. (2023, Aug 11). Retrieved from