Interstellar: A Journey into the Parallel Universe of Dream Theory

Interstellar blew my mind out of my nose and onto the screen. This movie will leave you feeling like you should have removed your shoes in the theater, not just because your feet were sweating, but because of the hallowed ground it saunters on.

Just to preface, I didn’t just like this movie because it was directed by a fellow dreamer - Christopher Nolan but rather because it was written with a level of intellectual aptitude that deserves considerable respect, in my opinion, not just the typical rave from Nolan’s fanhood.

After all, Interstellar is rich with metaphorical undertones that quietly refer the mind to the transcendence of love, the sanctity of time, collective consciousness, and appropriate to this line of work - there is a fascinating correlation to the topic of dreaming.

Part of the reason I’m writing this article is because - yes, I found it somewhat relevant to the topic of dreaming. But more than anything else, I really just wanted to light up the sherlock pipe, pull out my magnifying glass and investigate this epic film a little more closely.

Although Interstellar is going to start an inevitable craze, I doubt that very many people will consider its subtext seriously enough. And this is sad to me because this film emits translucent light upon the human condition and some of the deeper questions of life.

If you’ve seen this movie already and you have no clue what I’m talking about right now, hopefully this article will jog your memory as we journey into the 5th dimension of this unprecedented work of art. And if you haven’t watched Interstellar yet, drop whatever you’re doing and go see it!

Okay, that's enough. Since this is a blog about lucid dreaming, let’s dive into the topic of dreaming and how sleep functions in Interstellar.

Dreams, sleep, waking up and what this insinuates about dreams.

Just as the movie Inception portrays a mysterious time altering boundary that separates waking life from the dreamscape, Interstellar portrays a similar story regarding human consciousness - one where its characters travel into space in search of a new home for the inhabitants of earth. While Inception refers to psychoanalysis and dream theory, Interstellar refers to multidimensional physics and Einstein’s theory of relativity. But both of these films meet in a parallel universe of altered perceptions of time and dimensional transitions that will make your head spin.

In the movie inception, the totem is used as a technique for validating reality. This concept is based off of a real lucid dreaming technique, where you develop the habit to ask yourself, "am I dreaming?" This conscious habit can then develop into a subconscious habit, which helps initiate lucid dreams. The totem is also an example of the difference in time between reality and the dreamscape. In your dreams, it keeps spinning, but if you're awake, it eventually stops.[/caption]

This takes place prior to the space team entering the wormhole. Here, they are gathered around a sleep tank, which basically allows them to go into a state of hibernation.

Although sleep is more of a background repetition in Interstellar, Nolan definitely appears to use it intentionally, even methodically. For instance, at both instances where there is a change in dimensions, the characters involved enter into sleep immediately before making the transition. Nolan draws a bit of a parallel here between the altered perceptions of time that are involved in Einstein's theory of relativity, and the identical time relativity profundity within the dimension of dreams.

This sleep scene takes place shortly before the space travelers travel through a wormhole into a new dimension.

Interestingly too, the act of waking up from sleep plays an interesting role in this film. For instance, at the movie’s climax, right after Cooper has communicated with his daughter from inside of a black hole, he wakes up (possibly even from a dream) and we find Cooper in a hospital bed back at home. And for just a brief second, some of us in the theater couldn’t help but wonder if everything that happened was just a dream.

Anyway, knowing that Christopher Nolan has a fascination with the topic of dreaming and that he tends to use dreams as a reference point in his films, I think it's safe to say that Interstellar exhibits an interesting parallel between the physics of time relativity and the phenomenon of altered perceptions of time within our dreams.

The movie Insomnia was directed by Christopher Nolan. It deals heavily with the subject fo sleep.

Memento. This film has several parallels to dreaming. It's about a character with short term memory loss who places tatoo's on his body to remember significant things about reality. It is heavily tied to the topic of lucid dreaming, more particularly.

Connecting the dots:

Interestingly, Carl Jung theorized that dreams connect us to a collective form of consciousness kind of like what's represented by Cooper’s experience inside the 5th dimension, where time and space are no longer relevant. And who knows, maybe this collective connection, which Jung theorized about and Nolan depicts, really does exist. After all, “Love is the one thing we are capable of perceiving that transcends time and space.” Perhaps this collective connection just isn't quite as visible during waking life.

There are even more convincing correlations to Jung's dream theory at work in this movie though. For instance, Cooper discovers that the mysterious “they”, which was leading their space travels all along was really more of an “us” - something that they were a part of collectively.

A depiction of collective consciousness.

Jung explains a psychological universe much like the one depicted in Interstellar, where there is an overlapping dimension of universal unconsciousness, which we are all connected to. He found this concept to be transparent while assessing the correlative dream content from one dreamer and another. In his research on dreams, he found that certain images (archetype images) appear to be driven by some kind of collective form of consciousness, which extends beyond individual experience and is associated with a larger "us".

Jung also believed in a kind of a universal library of knowledge, which we are collectively linked to - a universal bookshelf if you will, much like the one we see in Murph’s bedroom.

Murph's bookshelf in her bedroom. This bookshelf can be looked at as a symbol of how past knowledge is passed down through the ages. The books themselves do not transcend time and space, but perhaps they represent something that does.  

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