Tag Archives: theory of relativity

Interstellar: the Queen connection to Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster

8 Nov

Interstellar

Interstellar. Great film. But what the credits won’t tell you is that although it is ostensibly scripted by the Nolan brothers, Christopher and Jonathan, it was really dreamt up by Brian May of Queen.

Let me explain.

Brian May, as well as being an ace guitarist and implausibly coiffed rock god, is also a PhD in Astrophysics. He put his interest in Space to good use by writing and singing one of Queen’s finest songs. ’39, as you will see from the lyrics below, uncannily parallels the plot of Interstellar. [Spoiler note: this is just the broad thrust of the plot – I don’t think it will spoil your enjoyment of the film. If you are worried, come back to this after you’ve seen the film, and tell me I’m right!]

In the year of ’39 assembled here the volunteers
In the days when the lands were few
Here the ship [ie spaceship] sailed out into the blue and sunny morn
Sweetest sign ever seen

And the night followed day
And the story tellers say
That the score brave souls inside
For many a lonely day sailed across the milky seas [ie Milky Way]
Ne’er looked back, never feared, never cried

[chorus] Don’t you hear my call though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand [once you’ve seen Interstellar, you will know how spookily this line parallels the film!]
For the day I take your hand
In the land that our grandchildren knew

In the year of ’39 [a hundred years later, that is] came a ship in from the blue
The volunteers came home that day
And they bring good news of a world so newly born [yep, they’d gone off looking for a new planet]
Though their hearts so heavily weigh
For the earth is old and grey [because the Earth is screwed], little darling we’ll away
But my love this cannot be
Oh so many years have gone though I’m older but a year [basic Theory of Relativity: time passes relatively more slowly the closer you get to the speed of light]
Your mother’s eyes from your eyes cry to me [and so the love of his life is now as old and grey as the Earth]

Don’t you hear my call though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand for the day I take your hand
In the land that our grandchildren knew

Don’t you hear my call though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
All your letters in the sand cannot heal me like your hand

For my life
Still ahead
Pity me

Love that song. Surprisingly moving. As is the film. Interstellar is that very rare beast: a big-budget sci-fi movie that deals with big questions about the human condition, rather than just going for action (though that’s also well done). It’s best seen in 70mm or IMAX, though I must caution you that, on the BFI IMAX screen, the size of Anne Hathaway’s eyes and lips is downright alarming.

Dear Christopher Nolan and his lawyers: I am not genuinely suggesting plagiarism here. There are plenty of sci-fi stories predating ’39 that deal with the same subject, and anyway there is no copyright on ideas in the public domain, only on the execution. But you have to admit, it’s a nice parallel.

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