Scene of the Week: Interstellar - The Docking Scene
Today we launch our new weekly segment, Scene of the Week. Within this, we will pick and review a scene every week that means something to us or to cinema in general. Starting this new segment off, we thought there would be no better choice than to pick from one of Christopher Nolan’s huge catalogue of iconic moments. The scene we have chosen is a favourite of mine: the docking scene from Interstellar.
Interstellar may not be classed as one of Nolan’s best films, but it is still an absolutely incredible picture and one that really changed my opinion on former Actor of the Week Matthew McConaughey. When it comes to films set in space, I find a lot of the accuracy is thrown out of the window, but not in Interstellar. Nolan did a great job and trying to making it feel as real as possible, which is portrayed brilliantly in the docking scene.
So for anyone who has yet to see this film, there will be spoilers ahead, so go and watch it, and come back once you have.
Interstellar stars some incredible talent with the two leads being McConaughey as Cooper and another former AotW winner, Anne Hathaway, as Brand. With the recent finding of Matt Damon’s character Mann, on a deserted planet, Cooper and Brand find themselves in a betrayal, as Mann steals their ship to escape, as he no longer wants to be out in space. Mann travels to their space station-like ship, in the mentality of stealing it, so that he can go back home. Luckily Brand and Cooper have a secondary ship which they chase him on but with Mann ahead of them he reaches their mothership first. Brand and Cooper try to reason with him over the telecoms but with Mann out of his mind, he is set on getting out of there, he rushes to try and dock his ship onto the space station, causing an explosion, which kills Mann and sends the station spinning into outer space, leading us to the breath-taking scene I have chosen to review.
Captured completely in 70mm IMAX format, Cooper pulls off the impossible. “It’s not possible” Cooper’s onboard computer, CASE, tells Cooper. “No, it’s necessary” replies Cooper as he requests that CASE analyses the spin of the station so that Cooper can spin his ship at the exact same RPM, enabling him to dock. As Cooper approaches the station, the incredible score by Zimmer fades in, starting with repetitive ticking like a watch, to build the suspense.
Once Cooper manages to get directly under the station where he would need to dock, he orders CASE to initiate the spin, allowing Coop’s ship to spin at the exact same RPM as the out-of-control station. Once the ship starts to spin, we hear Zimmer’s score start picking up, introducing these incredible organ scales, adding to the heroism which Cooper is pulling off. As the ship spins, the G-Force becomes more and more powerful, seeing Cooper and Brand jolted to one side, fighting to stay in control. The force becomes to much for Brand, as we see her go from extremely tense, trying to hold on, to completely limp and she passes out. This is genius by Nolan, as it demonstrates how close Cooper is to also passing out, only upping the suspense.
With the ship finally reaching the matching RPM, Cooper orders his secondary onboard computer, TARS, to adjust the ships position so that it is accurate enough for Cooper to raise the ship to dock. At this point Zimmer’s score is in full force, heightening the incredible emotion in this scene. With only seconds left before Cooper passes out, TARS manages to lock on and dock their ship. Cooper then reverses his spin, allowing him to tame the station and reduce the G-Force.
This scene is nothing short of genius. It captures so many emotions, from shock to suspense to heroism, but what would you expect from such a visionary as Christopher Nolan? The docking scene gives me goosebumps every time I watch it, and it will continue to do so. Love or hate Interstellar, you cannot doubt the perfection of this scene.