One of the most visually arresting sequences from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was the scene in which Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) found himself inside of a Tesseract near the end of the movie.
A Tesseract is a theoretical construct that exists beyond the three dimensions that we can perceive. And even the team behind Interstellar had a difficult time grasping the Tesseract and finding a way to convey what it is on the screen.
“A Tesseract is the three dimensional shadow of a four dimensional hypercube that’s been unfolded,” explains VFX Supervisor Paul Franklin in “Interstellar – Across All Dimensions and Time,” a featurette from the Interstellar Blu-ray which has popped up online.
Franklin clears up some of the misconceptions about the Tesseract during the early part of the video. For example, he states that Cooper isn’t actually traveling backwards in time. In the Tesseract, Cooper exists outside of time, but only in a single place: the bedroom of his daughter, Murph (who was played by Mackenzie Foy as a child and by Jessica Chastain as an adult).
“[Coop] can send a message into normal spacetime,” continued Franklin. “And he can physically move these worldlines or extrusions as we call them. That sends a wave traveling along these things and that enters the room and affects the objects that are inside the room. This made perfect sense because according to Einstein, that’s what gravity is. Gravity is a wave that propagates through spacetime.”
For his part, McConaughey put the Tesseract into an emotional context. “Love is spacetime,” he said. “Love is that fifth dimension. Love is that thing that travels through time, forwards, backwards, up and down.”
The truly remarkable thing that comes out of this featurette is the way that Nolan and his team brought the Tesseract to life. CGI trickery was kept to a minimum, as actual sets were constructed, with wire work and projectors used to create the illusion of the Tesseract on screen. It’s an amazing accomplishment, especially when the featurette depicts the scope of the Tesseract set.
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