A Fantasy in Sci-Fi’s Clothing: Interstellar and the Liberation of Magic from Genre

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James Koh


In his film Interstellar (2014) Christopher Nolan depicts an outer space filled with black holes, gravitational phenomenon, ghosts, and tesseracts. As the protagonist ventures into space to find a new habitable planet, he encounters incredible scientific challenges, moral dilemmas, and religious questions. Religion and morality are established themes in space films and in science fiction, and the film was largely acknowledged for its attempts to grapple with larger ontological and religious questions. However, the film is often overlooked for its magical elements. Interstellar is largely a fantasy film but is also incredibly rich in science fictional tropes and themes. In this essay, I will argue that Interstellar can be reduced to neither a fantasy film nor a science fiction one, and that the complex relationship between science and magic are explored in a unique and artistically valuable way.

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