‘Memento’, ‘Inception’ and Interstellar’. Three brilliant films that couldn’t have been more different. One is a psychological thriller about a man suffering from mental disorder; another is a sci-fi heist drama about dream within dreams, and the third is space-adventure drama about interstellar travel. So, of course, all of them are very different movies … or so it appears. Yes, as far as, subject matter and treatment of each of the three films are concerned, they are very different.
But, think a little harder. There’s something that’s common among all of them.
It may not become apparent at first, but if you look closely enough, there’s a common theme running through all the three films, and that is: a lost man’s search for answers. Still not convinced?
Let’s try to dig in deeper and analyze each of the three films one by one.
In ‘Memento’, the protagonist, Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is suffering from anterograde amnesia and is unable to store recent memories. With the help of his own developed techniques — use of Poloroid photographs, notes and tattoos on his body — he tries to investigate and find out who raped and murdered his wife. ‘Memento’, with its innovative use of editing, is a thrilling watch from start to finish. And since ‘Memento’ is a psychological thriller that uses reverse-chronology as its narrative device, it is easy to lose sight of what the film is actually about. Inherently, if you lay bare the plot, it is a man searching for answers; in this case, the answer to who killed his wife.
In ‘Inception’, the protagonist, Dominick “Dom” Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief, who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology. You might assume that a thief that uses such a sophisticated scientific technology must be in complete control of his own life; but he is not. He is struggling with his past — memories of his wife and an experiment gone wrong — and he is concerned whether he’ll be able to meet his children again. In a way, he feels lost and doesn’t know how to keep a check on his memories, as a result of which his wife keeps appearing in his dreams and nearly ruins his heist. One of his quests throughout the film is not just how to successfully pull off the heist, but also how to make peace with his past. And that’s why, I feel, ‘Inception’, inherently, again, is about a lost man’s search for answers.
In ‘Interstellar‘, the protagonist, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) ventures into space — leaving behind an 11-year old daughter whom he promises that he’ll come back — in search of another planet where life can be sustained. In space, he faces incredibly challenging situations: some physical, some moral, but mostly emotional. In a way, he feels lost because he doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to meet his daughter again. And that also is what drives him to take decisions that he ultimately took — risking everything and venturing into black-hole. Fortunately, for him, he stumbles into the world where he not only gets the answers that his daughter (and deep down he himself) was looking for but also, he finds an answer that saves the whole humanity.