- Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema reflects on the film’s unique visual aesthetic and Christopher Nolan’s vision for the film.
- Nolan wanted a muted palette for the Earth scenes, with dust in the air reducing the vibrancy of certain colors.
- The movie’s ice planet scenes were filmed in Iceland, with van Hoytema recalling the particularly brutal and beautiful landscape, and the use of a practical spaceship.
Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema reflects on how he and Christopher Nolan pulled off the movie’s grounded science fiction aesthetic. Released in 2014, Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, an ex-NASA pilot who, with Earth dying, sets out on a mission to find a new home for humanity. The movie was a hit with audiences and critics alike, with particular praise levied at Nolan’s now-legendary use of practical effects.
Now, almost 10 years after Interstellar‘s release, van Hoytema, a frequent Nolan collaborator, reflects on the experience making the 2014 sci-fi in a recent interview with Variety. The cinematographer touches on the ways in which the filmmaker prioritized practical effects and real locations, which ultimately gave the film its unique visual quality. Check out van Hoytema’s full comment below:
“Chris wanted a muted palette. We planted corn and put dust in the air, [which makes] the radiant green disappear. The low-hanging clouds and dramatic skies of Alberta were just so giving for us when we were shooting there.
“[The ice planet scenes were shot in Iceland,] which is desolate place with a big lagoon knee-deep for miles in all directions made of melting ice. The elements there are very harsh, basic and pure. We brought a spaceship there and shot it practically in a place where you normally couldn’t shoot. It was very beautiful. We wanted to find ways to capture that on Imax.”
Why Interstellar Remains A Divisive Nolan Movie
As a whole, Nolan’s filmography remains remarkably well-reviewed, and Interstellar is certainly no exception. Although the overall response to the movie was positive, there are several lasting critiques that still plague the film.
The Interstellar complaints largely have to do with the human storylines in the film, particularly the themes that Nolan explores. As highlighted during Interstellar‘s mind-bending ending, one of the central ideas of the film is the idea that love and its influence can travel across space and time. This theme is most fully explored when Cooper travels inside a black hole where he subsequently attempts to communicate with a past version of himself, pleading that he stays with his daughter instead of setting out on the interstellar mission.
For a film that dives into the intricacies of gravity, time travel, and physics in a grounded and highly analytical way, this thematic undercurrent, to some, felt overly simplistic or perhaps even corny. While there are certainly legitimate critiques of the film, there’s no denying, however, that Nolan presented a tangible and ultimately thrilling depiction of space travel. As Hoytema’s most recent comments affirms, Nolan puts a lot of thought into how to capture as much as possible in-camera, something that evidently paid off in a big way for Interstellar.