Gender Roles – Women
Gender Roles – Men
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles - Women: 5 Stars
Dr. Brand is a smart and selfless scientist who is prepared to sacrifice her own comfort and safety for the benefit of humankind. Although she has strong connections with her father and boyfriend and hopes to see them again someday, she recognizes that her larger mission to save humanity takes precedence over these personal relationships. Over the course of her journey, Dr. Brand exhibits tremendous bravery, compassion, thoughtfulness and humility, making her a vibrant and memorable hero.
Cooper’s daughter Murphy also grows into an intelligent and authoritative young woman, though it takes her some time to put her own needs and emotions aside to focus on the larger question of saving humanity. In the end, her contributions are instrumental in preserving the mission, and all of mankind.
Gender Roles - Men: 4 Stars
Cooper is a devoted father and concerned citizen who agrees to participate in NASA’s mission in order to save his children and humanity’s future. He is not concerned with his own glory or reputation, but only what is best for his family and the rest of civilization. Unfortunately, Cooper doesn’t collaborate much with his team of scientists and generally gives orders and makes decisions without consulting them. But when he does engage them in discussion, he respects their intelligence and perspectives. He also encourages the curiosity and spirited growth of his young daughter, despite her limited prospects in a world that has lost its interest in science and space exploration.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 4 Stars
Both Murphy and Dr. Brand exhibit an impressive amount of self-confidence. Neither woman is afraid to challenge the opinions or logic of their male colleagues, and both believe they have value to add to the scientific research and discussions surrounding the mission. Dr. Brand does accept the blame for a colleague’s death a little too easily, but this scene only shows her compassion and humanity, rather than defeating her sense of pride or self-worth.
In addition, both women are recognized more for their accomplished minds than anything else. They are never put into revealing dresses or forced to make themselves up to appear powerful or valued. Everything they do they do with a simple style and grace that never detracts from their devotion to their heartbreaking mission.
Plot: 5 Stars (Spoilers)
Although Interstellar focuses most of its energy on Cooper and his struggle to re-unite with his family, Dr. Brand and Murphy ultimately become humanity’s heroes. At one point, Dr. Brand makes an intelligent and compelling argument that love just might be as important a force as logic. She posits this theory as a reason for bypassing one possibly habitable planet in favor of another where her boyfriend, Wolf Edmonds, is stranded. Though she isn’t able to persuade the other scientists, in the end, she does find her way to Edmond’s planet and proves that her instincts were correct. As the lone survivor of the Endurance mission, she becomes responsible for cultivating a colony that will ensure the continuation of the human race.
Murphy, on the other hand, is eventually credited with saving the lives of the remaining humans left on Earth. Murphy is able to collect and interpret the data that her father sends to her from another time and space in a five-dimensional reality (although the film isn’t incredibly detailed about how she makes her connections). It is this ability to read her father’s communications that makes it possible to finish Professor Brand’s impossible equation and save humanity.
Cooper definitely plays the part of the film’s hero by sacrificing himself to help Dr. Brand reach Edmond’s planet, and by sending the necessary messages home to Murphy. But without the follow-through of these amazing women, the Endurance mission could not have succeeded.
Character Development: 2 Stars
Interstellar doesn’t provide much background or personality for any of its characters. Even the film’s protagonist, Cooper, is relatively static and flat. The film engages the audience through impressive visuals and suspenseful action sequences, but doesn’t delve too deep into the lives of its heroes. We know nothing about Dr. Brand’s relationship with Wolf Edmonds. She doesn’t share anything about what she went through when he left on his Lazarus mission or when they stopped receiving communications from him. Likewise, the film doesn’t show us how Murphy met Professor Brand or came to realize that her father was on a mission to save the planet. She makes no comparisons between her deceased mother and her disappeared father, and never attempts to justify her continued anger towards him. In many ways, her bitterness is too juvenile and predictable for such an intelligent and analytical woman, and a poor substitute for real emotional depth.