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Radix Journal

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Category: Movie Reviews

“Interstellar”: Finding A New Telos

We’ve forgotten who we are: explorers, pioneers… not caretakers.” (Joseph Cooper)

We’ve forgotten who we are: explorers, pioneers… not caretakers. (Joseph Cooper)


There’s an unwritten rule with movies: the more you expect from one, the less you get from it. Another unwritten rule is that a remake is, in most cases, not as good as the original.

Christopher Nolan seems to be the great rule-breaker of today’s film industry. When he took on the project of salvaging the Batman franchise after Joel Schumacher had almost destroyed it (Batman Forever and Batman & Robin), who could have predicted he would release a trilogy that would almost completely eclipse Tim Burton’s two first opuses (Batman and Batman Returns), which were actually really good?

When Interstellar‘s trailers started to catch my attention, and it was evident that Nolan was attempting a remake of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I thought that the stakes were too high this time. How dare Nolan challenge The Master?

Interestingly, Christopher Nolan has often been described as Kubrick’s heir, partly because of the two directors’ common propensity to cut the Gordian Knots of established filmmaking. Kubrick was one of the very first moviemakers to use a nonlinear narrative, in The Killing (1956), and Nolan went even further in Memento (2000), which recounts the fragmented story of an amnesiac whose memory is rebooted every five minutes.

The comparison between Kubrick and Nolan is even apter in the case of Interstellar. Indeed, Interstellar is more than a remake of 2001. It is 2001, only way, way better. If Kubrick was film’s Copernicus, then Nolan is its Galileo.

Before raising Radix readers’ eyebrows, I should mention that Nolan’s improvement upon Kubrick’s 1968 movie is not due to technology. Unlike many futuristic movies these days, Interstellar is two-dimensional, and though there is, of course, an important use of CGI, it is not what defines the movie (and it is worth noting that in technical terms, 2001 has aged quite well). I could go as far as saying that Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013) was graphically much more audacious than Interstellar. But it would be missing the point: though Interstellar takes place in outer space, it is not about space conquest. Much like 2001, Interstellar is about biological evolution, the meaning of human existence, Mankind’s destiny, and God.

And though there is an important reflection on artificial intelligence in Interstellar, supercomputers are here reduced to the status of farm animals. There is no equivalent of “HAL,” arguably 2001‘s central character.

The prominence of humans in the scenario made the casting a matter of ultimate importance. Whereas the actors of 2001 could easily have been replaced with others, Matthew McConaughey’s performance in Interstellar already is, and will remain indispensable.

Though not as famous as Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception), and still mostly known for starring in a string of interchangeable “rom-coms,” McConaughey has recently proven as a man of both wit and emotional depth. With only a few minutes of screen time in Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, released last Winter, McConaughey managed to play the movie’s most famous scene with a simple “money mantra” (or whatever it’s supposed to be).

McConaughey also appeared on TV this year. In HBO’s True Detective, he plays officer Rust Cohle. Down in Louisiana’s post-industrial rubble, he and detective Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are investigating a series of murders committed by the local elite in a ritual, Satanic fashion, leading some website editors to analyze True Detective as a “conspiracy theory” series. Commenting on the “tomb of the American Dream” he and Hart have to muddle through, Rust Cohle has some lines that echo those of Nolan’s comic-book heroes and villains: “The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”

In Interstellar, McConaughey, starring as Joseph Cooper, doesn’t fail to provide the spectator with catchy lines. But before I start quoting, perhaps some contextual elements are in order.

The story takes place in the United States, or rather what used to be the United States. Joseph Cooper, a former engineer and pilot who had to retire after a crash, is now growing corn to provide for his two kids and his father-in-law. Cooper’s wife died a few years before the story begins. She had a tumor that, had it been diagnosed in time, would have been curable. But the lack of proper medical devices and qualified physicians sealed her fate.

Cooper was wise enough to plant corn instead of wheat, corn being (for now) the only crop which resists a blight that is ravaging plantations.

The earth, both with a small and a capital “e,” is dying. The rotting plants turn into dust, which, due to frequent windstorms, makes it harder and harder for people to breathe. Field fires are commonplace. Harvests hardly reach survival levels. Apocalypse has come, not with a bang but with a whimper.

Though early 21st-century technological devices keep being used as long as they work, civilization has globally reverted to a pre-Industrial Revolution level: most human activity is oriented towards food production. Cooper’s elder son, Tom, whose intelligence is only slightly above-average, will have to study how to grow corn in high school. More and more, boys learn their fathers’ trade, as it used to be before the 19th and 20th centuries’ division of labor.

Cooper’s daughter, Murph, is much more like her father. She seems to be endowed with a kind of “shine” that allows her to feel a part of reality that the five senses cannot detect. Unlike her brother, she knows that “something is wrong” in the present state of affairs. She doesn’t live by the rules, because she feels that rules are dooming her family. Though—or rather because—her intelligence is vastly above-average, she has troubles with her teachers at school. On her spare time, she tries to figure out what “ghosts” want to communicate to her. Although Cooper doesn’t believe his daughter’s “ghosts” stories, he supports her in her personal experiments. One day, she detects a signal that resembles geographical coordinates.

Cooper, who has noticed anomalies in his automatic ploughing machines’ functioning, believes it is due to a magnetic field, whose center has been located by Murph. He decides to go there, and his disobedient daughter manages to hide in his pickup truck and go with her father. (Promethean Nolan likely means that all evolutionary leaps are made by rebels, like Columbus in his time.)

It turns out that the mysterious site is nothing less than a covert NASA base. Once the pride of the world, NASA has gone underground since government credits have been cut in favor of agriculture. (But as “Paul Kersey” wrote, in today’s “real world,” space conquest has been abandoned to the benefit of “Diversity.” At least humans in Interstellar have the excuse of starvation.)

In a very short-sighted manner, what remains of the government thinks that Mankind’s dire situation justifies that “frivolities” like space exploration make way to more essential endeavors like farming. (History school books are orwellianly rewritten to describe Apollo 11 as a hoax.)

Slipping the “Surly Bonds of Earth”

Here I am reminded of an episode from TV animated series Archer. In the twelfth episode of the third season, Commander Tony Drake (with Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston’s exalted voice) explains to curvy quadrooness Lana why space colonization is the right answer to “here and now” problems:

Drake: You think space exploration is a boondoggle?!
Lana: Well, come on, in this economy?!
Drake: Exactly! Now, more than ever, is when we need to look to space for the solutions to Mankind’s problems. In just two hundred years, Earth’s population will exceed her capacity to produce enough food. And even as the famines begin, global war will erupt as fresh water becomes scarcer than gold. But if we begin now, using the lessons learned aboard Space Station Horizon, a small group of brave colonists can terraform Mars. And Mankind can finally slip the surly bonds of Earth, to live forever… AMONG THE STARS!!!

“Slipping the surly bonds of Earth” is exactly what Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a NASA researcher, has to offer Cooper. Brand wants Cooper to lead an expedition with Brand’s daughter (Ann Hathaway) to a black hole located near Saturn’s rings (which is reminiscent of 2001‘s black monolith revolving around Jupiter). Beyond this black hole is another stellar system, in a faraway galaxy, with three planets apparently similar to Earth both in gravity and atmosphere composition. The expedition’s mission is to find out whether one of these exoplanets can be terraformed.

Cooper faces Ulysses’ dilemma. Should he stay in Ithaca or should he go conquer Troy? And Penelope’s dead anyway. As painful as it is for him to leave his children and his home, Cooper decides to go. He begs his daughter to forgive him and explains to her that he has to live at last. To live, that is, to exist beyond food, shelter, and reproduction. To put the Greater Good above one’s family’s interests (or rather to understand that the latter depends on the former). To follow one’s Destiny, even if said Destiny is tragic. And, for those who have that rare power, to bring Mankind to a higher level of consciousness, mastery, and being.

Cooper knows when he leaves that his chances of seeing his family again are very thin. Not only is the journey long and dangerous, but spacetime is different on the three exoplanets: one hour there amounts to seven years on Earth.

Which means that the expedition, named Lazarus after the Christian saint who came back from the dead, is a race against time. Even if Cooper manages to make it, he might be back when there’s nothing left to save on Earth (a little like in the first Planet of Apes). And, of course, when his kids are dead.

But he accepts the challenge, which appears to be Mankind’s last chance. Pr. Brand informs Cooper that corn will also die out eventually. Even worse, the Noah’s Ark-like vessel ready to follow Cooper’s pioneer expedition is, for now, too heavy to overcome Earth’s gravity.

NASA’s calculation is that Cooper will get back when the scientists on Earth have managed to make the vessel fly, due to the spacetime difference between the two stellar systems.

If this “Plan A” doesn’t work, they’ll turn to “Plan B”: a light shuttle with fertilized eggs aboard will leave with a few colonists to the New Earth; the rest of Mankind will be left to die. (I wonder what will annoy conservatives most this time: surrogate motherhood or the idea that not all human lives have the same value?) Thanks to these eggs, a new Mankind will be recreated. As Brand puts it, “We must think not as individuals but as a species.”

Later in the movie, Cooper will throw the line that prompted me to write this review: “Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.”

A Philosophical Challenge to Identitarians

Interstellar is problematic for Identitarians, who follow two simple principles: Blood and Soil. If the former is only shaken by Nolan (more on that below), the latter is completely crushed by the British Faust.

Indeed, space conquest means that Man will not dance around the same wooden totem pole for Eternity like Hobbits, which Identitarianism often boils down to.

But I think Instellar is a challenge rather than a stop sign to Identitarians, at least for (Pan-)European ones. As I mentioned in my debut article at Alternative Right (my very first article in the English language, by the way), this “Let’s do as our ancestors have always done” motto may suit Indian tribes, but it is unworthy of Sons of Europa, whether the “European New Right,” which is neither European in spirit nor New nor even right-wing, likes it or not. “We are the heirs of conquerors,” fellas. Our distant ancestors had to “slip the surly bonds” of the Pontic steppe so they could reach a higher stage of evolution in their millenial upward journey.

Of all people, Americans should understand that reality better than any of their European brothers, which is actually the reason why I decided to “slip the surly bonds” of my beloved Hexagone two years ago (which answers the usual question I’m asked: “Why are you doing all this?”; that’s why).

The real founding of America—when the Mayflower left Plymouth, not when the “Holy Scrap” was written down—is not even four centuries old, a period of time, in strictly evolutionary terms, that’s merely a blink-of-an-eye.

If evolution keeps its course (I think it will), there will be a Mayflower spaceship someday. Let’s just hope that it won’t be crammed with Puritans.

As for the “Blood” part of the Identitarian motto, it is also challenged by Nolan, but in a more subtle way. Viewers will have noticed that the Lazarus expedition comprises one Black man, and a woman whose name could be Jewish. Well, call me a “race traitor” (but again, traitors are firstly those who betray Europa’s spirit) if you will, but I didn’t hide under my seat in terror. Let’s not forget that Art shouldn’t be confused with Politics, something the Right has never understood, and the Left less and less understands, which is why its works of art are getting embarrassing.

The second reason why I don’t mind seeing non-Whites in a European expedition is because as Oswald Spengler put it, “those who talk too much about race no longer have it in them.” What is more traitorous: non-Whites appearing in a clearly European movie, or great-grandsons of Acheans, Romans, Franks, and Vikings placing their hopes in this or that model of car?

(“Both are equally abhorrent” is an easy, common, but… wrong answer.)

There are, in my opinion, two competing strains of Identitarianism, whose opposition can be summed up thusly:

“What is Mine is Fine” VS. “What is Fine is Mine”

(Due to Prince Harold’s history-shifting shipwreck on Picardy’s shores and the Battle of Hastings that ensued, the rhyme also works in French: “Ce qui est mien est bien” VS. “Ce qui est bien est mien.”)

I explained that in an interview at AltRight with Alexander Forrest:

We can recognize the various strengths of [other] civilizations and take inspiration from the noble and inventive things they engendered. That is exactly what the West used to do best. To use a very basic example… the Arabs produced coffee long before the West adopted it and transplanted it to the Americas. Today, the most refined coffee is brewed in Italy. It is the essence of our civilization to take what is best in other civilizations and improve upon it.

The worst aspect of “Blood and Soil” rigidity is that it deprives those who stick to it of a telos, of a final cause that would transcend their individual lives and therefore enable them to pass their dreams down to their descendants, until the time when these dreams can be put to practice.

I believe such a dream should be space conquest. I obviously won’t live it, nor will my children, and I don’t think my grandchildren or even my great-grandchildren will. And therefore, in the meantime, a European Home should be established so as to make the carrying out of this dream possible and even thinkable (the rewriting of history books about Neil Armstrong’s giant leap is one of Interstellar‘s most important scenes).

But this European Home would’t be sustainable—it wouldn’t even see the light of day, since its founding is, in itself, a project involving several generations from conception to realisation and therefore requires transcendence to survive the bite of time—if there wasn’t an idea bigger than us, an idea that will mean the same thing in one century as it now does. It is time we cultivate this idea instead of doing as if it was still “five to midnight” and we had to “act before it’s too late.”

It is not five to midnight. It is five past midnight. The night is still dark and cold. Predators of many kinds prowl around the camp. Ghastly screams echo in the void. Waiting for the Dawn, torch-bearing guards keep the fence, and poets recount glorious tales around the fire, while everybody looks to the stars.

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As Boring As Paradise

The problem with dystopias is that they’re often way too optimistic. Either what they warn us against is already happening, or the future they had envisioned turns out to be better than the actual one. To take a striking example, the kind of corporate fascism to be found in Robocop‘s Detroit is unquestionably more appealing than the Haiti-like heap of rubble and crime-ridden cesspool the “Paris of the West” has become.

The problem with dystopias is that they’re often way too optimistic. Either what they warn us against is already happening, or the future they had envisioned turns out to be better than the actual one. To take a striking example, the kind of corporate fascism to be found in Robocop‘s Detroit is unquestionably more appealing than the Haiti-like heap of rubble and crime-ridden cesspool the “Paris of the West” has become.

Elysium is set in 2154, and we’re supposed to imagine what Los Angeles would look like “if current trends are not reversed.” Well, if the ongoing demographic overrun afflicting the West is not stopped, I wonder how there could still be factories producing droid robots. For that to happen, it would require a sufficient number of skilled researchers, engineers, technicians that will likely be gone in mid-22nd century Mexifornia. And given the imminence of this future, I don’t think they’ll have enough time to shut themselves in a space station, chiefly since space exploration has been sacrificed on the altar of racial inclusiveness. Today, the main use of American and European space rockets is to shoot satellites to outer space so that anyone can send that video of a dog peeing on a baby via their “smart”phone. Terraforming Mars or Venus is not a priority.

This was the main trouble with the movie Idiocracy.  Because of centuries of dysgenics, the population has become so dumb that the hero’s lawyer attacks his own client during his Kafkaian trial, but there are still first-class medical facilities and fine cars.

As “nightmarish” as Elysium‘s L.A. seems to Dr. Kevin MacDonald, who is a direct observer of the city, it is what it would look like if things go well. And why should we wait a century and a half to see what will directly result from the coming amnesty? 

The war within the liberal mind

This criticism aside, I really enjoyed Elysium and I wouldn’t follow Matthew Heimbach in saying that the movie is “anti-White.”  I think there’s more to this movie than just open-border, pro-amnesty propaganda. It’s more accurate to characterize it as a war within the liberal mind, similar to what Richard had noted when commenting on World War Z.

A superficial analysis would lead to the conclusion that  Elysium tells the story of a Rainbow Democratic coalition claiming its “right” to benefit from Elysium’s delights (healthcare mostly, which rings a bell, three years after the Obamacare bill), reserved so far to an overwhelmingly White, fascistic elite ruling the space station. I would argue exactly the reverse, that if liberalism is anywhere in this movie, it’s aboard Elysium itself.

Much like in Star Trek, the station is ruled by an androgynic, PC learned assembly. The president is an effeminate, racially undetermined progressive who doesn’t want to be too hard on the spaceships full of illegal immigrants that try to storm Elysium, just like today’s European politicians refuse to wreck the boats reaching Lampedusa every day.

Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster), though being a Frenchwoman, is the Secretary of Defense of what thus looks like a “Bilderberger” or Trilateral government. No one is forced to take “conspiracy theorists” seriously, but the fact that Elysium’s structure is a circled pentagram often shown inverted on the screen is certainly no coincidence.  As for Elysium’s public buildings, they remind one of the ones in Metropolis or Hunger Games, the latter being troublingly similar to those of  Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.

Delacourt faces the usual liberal dilemma: she must resort to fascistic methods (coup d’État, hired killers) to preserve her progressive utopia. Elysium‘s director, Neill Blomkamp, belonging to the Afrikaner people, a progressive nation if there ever was one, it’s not too hard to see why this moral dilemma is at the heart of the movie. The name Delacourt is maybe a reference to South Africa’s French Huguenot co-founders. This character echoes more recent figures from a country ethnically related to the Boer people, and it is the Netherlands, with Pim Fortuyn, Theo Van Gogh and Geert Wilders who can best be defined as worried liberals. Further North, there is Norway’s Breivik. 

Boring as Paradise

Elysium is a liberal wet dream: people are “nice,” they spend their days having lavish cocktail-parties along their lagoon-like swimming pools. Their suburban homes are reminiscent of the dying world we witness in American Beauty, with those ubiquitous white-picket fenced houses inhabited by Last Men hardly hiding their unspeakable boredom. If the Elysian life reminds you of some articles or speeches by paleocons and even White nationalists who “just want to be left alone,” it’s normal: conservatives are mainly outmoded liberals, waving a crippled fist at a world they no longer understand.

The problem being, of course, that you can’t preserve a White country when you transform a race of conquerors, creators, builders and navigators in a herd of sheep. Much like zoo lions and tigers, Westerners don’t procreate and die out since the only highlight of the week is to wait for their Friday BBQ with their drone-minded neighbors.

Elysium’s final invasion by third world hordes saddened me, as predictable as it was, but I couldn’t help thinking that it was inevitable. When Whites spend too much time in their comfort zone, their suicidal liberal policies are little more than a waking up from the dream they were stuck in. Elysium is a new Eden, and that’s why it looks so boring.

History implies pain, misery and suffering, but it’s also what it takes to feel really alive. 

Outsourcing rebellion to the Third World

In comparison, what’s left of the Earth strikes me as particularly non-liberal.  Men are masculine, women, though not very good-looking, are feminine, manly virtues are necessary to survive the day-to-day violence, and though the general population has little conception of honor, there’s still a warrior ethos embodied by some characters.

The “White Hispanic” character played by Matt Damon, Max da Costa (which sounds mo
re Portuguese/Brazilian than Hispanic to me, by the way), for all his flaws, has renounced crime not out of fear like Zarathustra’s “honest” citizens, but out of choice.

To storm Elysium, Da Costa has to become the 22nd-century equivalent of a Medieval Knight by undergoing a surgical transformation into a droid. Dialectically, his main opponent, Kruger, who is Delacourt’s mercenary, has to follow the same process. To overcome the challenge imposed by the Machine, Man has to become a Machine himself, a dialectic process present in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as in the recent low-brow Pacific Rim, where brain-controlled robots bash giant lizards.

In his review of Elysium, Gregory Hood laments that Blomkamp, though conscious of the fact that a non-White take-over of Elysium will mean that the station will know the same fate as Los Angeles, offers no solution. Mr. Hood knows Hollywood too well to ignore that even if Blomkamp is a closet right-winger as Steve Sailer (who is captivating when he’s not sliding on the bell curve) thinks he is, he can’t release a film in which Delacourt is victorious and the Latina Frey can’t heal her daughter’s leukemia.

In a movie Hood’s become a specialist ofThe Dark Knight Rises, we see the Wayne mansion turned into an orphanage for non-White children, something that is probably not to the taste of the elitist Christopher Nolan (whose right-wing leanings are more obvious than Blomkamp’s, despite the parallel that Sailer tried to draw in his review). We also see that Bruce Wayne has become a tourist, content with drinking chianti along the Arno river in the company of a woman who betrayed him quite a few times. That is mildly infuriating, but it’s the only way to have Hollywood display an un-PC message.

In Elysium, we have this vibrant coalition of non-liberal Mestizos and Blacks which defeats a liberal, White elite with token minorities, but we might as well reverse the roles in our heart of hearts and imagine a White coalition storming a White gated community to force its inhabitants to stop fleeing and thus letting their common enemies turn the West into hell on Earth. In what I see as an allegory of White flight, Elysium reminds us that there’ll be no victory for Westerners if they keep believing that shutting themselves in behind CCTV, armored doors, intercoms, code-encrypted gates and other reality-denying devices will suffice to save their and their children’s lives.

It should also warn White nationalists that if an Ethnostate or a collection thereof were to be established some day, it shouldn’t be about “going back” to some reconstructed version of “liberalism when it worked,” for the outcome will always be that of the film. 

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