Girl on Fire: Rage, rage against the dying of the light

[As seen in Creston News Advertiser, December 18, 2014]

A week or so ago, I was sitting in a movie theater, the lights low and the sounds of people munching popcorn reverberating through the room. Then, when trailer after trailer of upcoming films finished, the adventure began.

Warning: spoiler alert.

The adventure was “Interstellar,” a science fiction thriller that takes place in a future when crops fail and governments claim space travel was a hoax. It’s the adventure of a group of men and women trying to continue the human species by traveling through space and time to find a habitable planet.

In keeping with the poetic theme this week, after coworker Jake Waddingham’s opinion piece “And miles to go before I sleep” in Wednesday’s Creston News Advertiser, I want to quote Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ most famous poem:

“Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,/ And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,/ Do not go gentle into that good night.”

Thomas’ villanelle, which one “Interstellar” character quotes quite often throughout the film, looks at the human condition through the narrator’s eyes as his father is dying. I felt this idyllic poem was perfect for “Interstellar,” as well as in our daily lives.

Jake discussed his first trial, the tribulations he underwent during the week and an incident that caused him to stop in his tracks and reevaluate his surroundings.

“Interstellar” did that to me. So many themes are packed into this movie I would consider as borderline epic that it was sometimes difficult to grasp the concepts in such a short amount of time. Themes such as time travel, otherworldly beings, the meaning of death and the meaning of humanity swarmed my brain throughout the entire movie. I was breathless and silent when the lights glowed again in the theater and patrons began filing out.

I think the most important part of that movie to me wasn’t the space traveling, but the reasons behind why it was necessary. The dust storms, failing crops and stubbornness of man blended together led to a world that was failing. It is a relevant theme to today’s global warming controversy, but put in futuristic, understandable terms.

I will always claim the best stories, whether written or viewed, are the ones focusing on the human condition. How does a person’s personality play a part in the decisions they make? Where does the past come into play? Does a person make a decision based on logic and reasoning, or emotions and personal bonds?

How does one situation, namely the dying of the human race, push men and women to do extraordinary things to save a bunch of strangers, the people they care about and themselves?

Thomas’ poetic words helped put that into perspective for me, not for the first time. Slowly but surely, a person’s light will die. A planet’s light will die. So, what can someone do when that happens?

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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