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The movie Interstellar, with its themes of love, gravitational pull and the connections between us, raises a whole host of mystical questions.

In the film the two main characters, a father and a daughter, have a deep love for each other. Their love tests them when they’re apart, and the father’s travels through space to try and find a new, habitable planet for humanity even bends the fabric of time, turning their separation into an entire lifetime for the daughter–but only a few years for the father. In their separation across time and space, the father tries hard to communicate with his daughter, and finally finds a way, with the unbreakable ties of the heart, to get through to her.

That’s just one of the ways the film shows us a great truth at the heart of all religion: we are interconnected.

Life, the film postulates, builds webs of loving and meaningful relationships that transcend time and space. In Interstellar, we learn about a scientific concept called quantum entanglement—when two particles or organisms that once interacted with each other actually behave as one, even though distance and time now separates them. The film tells us that two people who love each other—in this case a father and a daughter—never lose that connection. Love, in both this film and in the teachings of all the great Faiths, is immortal, an everlasting force responsible for all of the attraction, gravity and coherence in the universe.

In Interstellar, three planets serve as metaphors, and each planet helps us distinguish limited forms of love from the love that we need in order to save humanity. We see attachment demonstrated on the first planet, selfishness brings us to the second, and altruistic love gets everyone to the last.

interstellar-movie-poster-2Let’s look at that force of attraction in each scenario. On the first planet, no obvious possibility exists for human life, yet one of the main characters feels she must recover the planet’s data that she causes another person to die. On the second planet, we see the force of attraction expressed inwardly, as selfishness. The scientist who initially explored the planet drew the second set of astronauts there by lying, because he feared his own death. Traveling to the last planet, however, requires altruistic, self-sacrificing love.

This love is not portrayed as a blind attachment that ignores reality, as it did on the first planet; nor is it a lie told for love of self, as on the second. In the quest for the survival of the human race, and in order to get to the third planet, the main character demonstrates an understanding of reality–how the spacecraft maneuvers, how the force of gravity works, how his actions will benefit his family, how his own individual life becomes less valuable than the survival of humanity. His choice is conscious, truthful, and coherent.

It reflects the same type of self-sacrificing, purely altruistic love that we see in the holy messengers of God:

Consider how the Prophets Who have been sent, the great souls who have appeared and the sages who have arisen in the world have exhorted mankind to unity and love. This has been the essence of their mission and teaching. This has been the goal of their guidance and message. The Prophets, saints, seers and philosophers have sacrificed their lives in order to establish these principles and teachings amongst men. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 469.

The Baha’i Writings tell us that a powerful force of attraction underpins all of reality, guiding the movement of the celestial spheres and motivating acts of love that can help safeguard the future of humanity. In our response to its call, we can each act in the same ways as the explorers in Interstellar, upon whom the generations to come depend.

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  • There is also the scene where they are debating whether or not to go to the second planet (the one where they do end up going second) or the third planet. The character that wants to go to the third planet makes the arguement that love is what is drawing her there and that maybe it is the most important thing to consider, maybe love is a form of communication from the universe telling to them that the third planet is the best one. However, the main character decided to go to the second planet because the data is more ...sound (because it was, of course, fabricated). So, if they had both trusted in the power of love, then the movie would have taken quite a different shape.
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  • Dec 19, 2014
    Thanks Tim! I especially like your take on the symbolism of the three planets. You are a thoughtful, eloquent writer. More soon, please!
  • Dec 06, 2014
    Great writing, Tim! Clear explication of the rich themes in this film. Just saw the movie today and I'm now recovering from its overwhelming awesomeness. Lots of reflecting on it in the days to come, to be sure.