Why Does the Hype Over “Interstellar” Draw Comparisons to “2001: A Space Odyssey”?

When Interstellar was released, the trade papers and some of the promotion compared the production of the film to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Why?

Christopher Nolan may be the only filmmaker in the world currently who can get a Hollywood studio to finance a personal, large scale feature for hundreds of millions of dollars. Stanley Kubrick had a similar luxury, though 2001 is possibly the only feature he made that would’ve approached Inception and Interstellar in terms of cost. Just as 2001 was known for its groundbreaking photography and special effects, so too does Interstellar. Additionally, both films recruited physicists as consultants. NASA consulted on 2001, and Kip Thorne, an acclaimed physicist, was heavily involved with Interstellar.

Both films clearly exhibit great artistic ambition, but they are very different works. While both are science fiction films involving space travel, 2001 is far more experimental. Unlike Interstellar, much of 2001 is left unexplained, relying on extended, wordless visuals, particularly in the abstract imagery of the climactic section of the film, which Kubrick designed to be a complete visual experience. Interstellar‘s presents a much more conventional narrative approach with dense explanations for all of its plot points and a tone that is much more sentimental.