Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ goes ‘Cli-Fi’

Is it a sci-fi mystery or a cli-fi tour de force?

What do we know about Christopher Nolan’s new cli fi movie “Interstellar” and when will it be released? We still don’t know many details but it is set for a late 2014 release. Get ready.

It includes a cast that features Casey Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, and Matthew McConaughey. It is a sci-fi mystery or a cli-fi tour de force?

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey

Time will tell. The premise — a group of scientists who travel to a different dimension — centers on tragic collapse of agriculture on Earth in some future time frame when climate change has basically turned humankind into one huge basket case of 25 billion hapless, helpless souls. So, yes, these blokes are going out to space to look for a planet where food can be grown, because a man’s gotta eat, right? Right.

Let me ask you a question point blank: Does the possibility that ”Interstellar” is a cli fi movie about climate change focus your interest?

The plot? What we know so far, those of us who search the internet every day looking for clues to “Interstellar” is this: these people are i traveling through so-called ”wormholes” because humankind has been forced to go into space because there is something very very wrong with our CO2-invested Earth. So, yes, our crew goes to different planets looking for a new place to call “home.”

So is our destiny to be in the stars, as Nolan wants to suggest? And is this new-fangled genre of cli-fi cinema all about anyways?

Let’s peer into the Wiki-hole on Cli-Fi and see where it leads.

Two major news outlets in the U.S. and Britain, NPR (National Public Radio) and the Guardian, ran stories about a new Hollywood term making the rounds among producers and directors called “cli-fi,” for climate fiction. While some commentators have said it is a new genre, others have said it is just a sub genre of science fiction. Time will tell.

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NPR put it this way: “Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction — cli-fi, for short”. British writer Rodge Glass noted in his piece in the Guardian that the literary world is now witnessing the rise of cli-fi worldwide and that Hollywood will surely follow.

After the NPR and Guardian news stories went through the usual social media stages of tweets and retweets, a literature professor at the University of Oregon, Stephanie LeMenager, announced that she had created a seminar that she is teaching titled “The Cultures of Climate Change” using the cli fi theme as a main theme of the class. The New York Times flew out to Oregon and interviewed the professor while the reporter sat in on a few of the classes.

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan

The students at University of Oregon study cli-fi novel and cli- fi movies, according to the Times, which was the first print newspaper in the world to use the ”cli fi” term in an article. When the Times speaks, the world listens and Hollywood is right there, listening, too. Cli-fi is a broad category, and it can apply to climate-themed movies that take place in the present or the future, or even in the past. And cli-fi movies can be dystopian in nature, or utopian, or just plain ordinary potboiler thrillers.

With carbon dioxide emissions in terms of parts per million (ppm) now hovering at around 400ppm, cli-fi movie directors like Nolan have their work cut out for them. ”Interstellar” is going to be stellar in more ways than one.

We are facing the worse existential crisis of the human species now in 2014 as the Climapocalypse threatens to put the humankind into a tailspin of unspeakable proportions. Get ready to ride out to the stars!

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Dan

Dan Bloom is a 1971 graduate of Tufts University who now lives in
Taiwan, where he watches the latest Taiwanese film releases as well as movies from Japan and China. As a climate activist since 2006, Dan
spends part of every day researching and writing about climate issues, pro and con, on his Cli Fi Central blog. A native of Boston,
Massachusetts, Dan has been travelling the world ever since he
graduated from college, living in over 20 countries and finally
settling in Asia.

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