Most of us haven’t seen Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar yet, but what we know of the film involves big, bold visuals of deep space, interplanetary travel, and things like wormholes. They’ve even apparently made legitimate scientific breakthroughs when it comes to rendering images of black holes and the like. So when you think of the film, you probably think of all the high tech elements in play, but there is one low-tech, not to mention hilarious and adorable way that they depict the astronauts floating around in zero gravity. And in an age where digital is king, Nolan and company are doing their best to keep film, actual physical film, alive.
Stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, who play astronauts sent through a wormhole to find a new planet for humans to colonize since we’ve ruined ours, stopped by The Graham Norton show to hype the film. Talk turned to the special effects, and while McConaughey discussed flying around on wires, Hathaway demonstrated one lo-fi method they shot the zero g scenes: by having her stand on one leg.
That’s right, this movie, which reportedly cost $165 million dollars to produce, couldn’t come up with a better way to pretend actors are floating around in the vacuum of space than to have them balance on one leg. Here’s the thing, watching Hathaway demonstrate this particular skill, bobbling around, it actually looks spot on. Knowing that’s what’s happening may color how you view Interstellar when we finally are able to see it.
Nolan has long been a vehement supporter of film, a medium that, as studios move to more digital means of distribution, is fighting an uphill losing battle. (He also hates 3D, which is something we can get behind in most cases.) To give his favorite format a much needed shot in the arm, and because he’s one of the few filmmakers working with the clout to pull a stunt like this off, Interstellar is being released two days early—November 5 as opposed to November 7—in select theaters that will screen the movie on actual 35mm and 70mm film prints.
This is a move that pissed off plenty of theater owners. With the current push for digital, many have made the full transition and no longer have the capabilities to even project film. And if they do still have the equipment, it’s quite an undertaking to set it up, let alone needing someone who still knows how to actually project film (it’s an art that is quickly going the way of the buffalo). Basically it’s a huge pain in the ass, and many of them feel like they’re missing out on a lucrative opportunity because they followed the mandate of the industry.
Even just assembling a print of the film is a gargantuan task, as you can see from this video. A single IMAX print is 60,288 feet long (they point out that’s 200 football fields), and when projected on a five-story-tall screen, the images are ten times the resolution of standard 35 mm. Nolan is a big proponent of the format, using it in his The Dark Knight Rises to great effect, but Interstellar takes his game to a whole new level. A full 66 minutes (of 169 total) of the finished film are in IMAX, which is why you should go out of your way to see this on the biggest screen possible. If nothing else, even with the middling reviews that have been rolling in recently, this is going to be a spectacle to behold.