I had an epiphany that my wife and I were stepping off a Virgin Galactic vessel into the first hotel of their design floating above the earth with the horizon spinning outside of a massive lobby window. It is Virgin’s first hotel in space established as a resort location rivaling the Atlantis vacation destination in the Bahamas complete with an indoor water park covered with large glass windows looking out into the vastness of space. The lobby was lush and expensive with exotic restaurants all offering outrageously epic views out every window. The moon is always full and casts a constant—haunting shadow through every object and mixed with the brilliant light shining off the earth is a bluish hue that has never been replicated by any light on the home planet. It’s our 50th wedding anniversary and we have a $5000 bottle of wine to mark the year of this writing to celebrate our first week-long vacation in space. We have worked hard and deserve to pamper ourselves with a very expensive outing that will mark many years of persistence. In the lobby is playing the old soundtrack to the classic 2014 movie Interstellar, which has by then become the standard of music referencing space. It was that award-winning Christopher Nolan movie that changed it all and set the tone for the second world-wide space race causing Hilton, Marriott and Virgin Galactic to build the first space stations catering to tourism. Virgin was the first to achieve it.
The majestic views out of the multiple windows demand the music of Interstellar because nothing else would be sufficient. The hotel operators just play constantly the old Hans Zimmer soundtrack to help alleviate the shock of being grounded so firmly to the floor as the view outside swirls around like a marry-go-round. It takes some getting used to for some people; some actually throw up with the disorienting effect of the earth’s horizon spinning around so rhythmically. There are trash cans stationed along the pathway toward the check-in counter large enough for visitors to dump their stomachs in the most graceful way possible. A cleaning crew quickly removes the contents so not to alter the smell of space—that rusty metal odor mixed with the fragrance of lobby vegetation that is intended carefully to greet guests as they step off the shuttle from their journey below.
We walk to the counter as track 7 on that enchanting soundtrack plays with organs chiming to the tempo of a clock’s second hand—the earth still swirling, the light from the moon and sun moving around the room casting shadows in all directions hauntingly. Bright overhead lights on the ceiling between more large windows cast stabilizing light so that the lobby looks to be the only stable element of a universe in chaos outside—which adds to the otherworldly sensation of a species raised on a planet where the sun rises and falls every 12 hours and the horizon is always fixed. Here, the sun is always out, the moon is always full, and the horizon never stills—it spins perpetually so to provide an earth like gravity for the visitors—some who are already in their swimming suits and heading for the massive domed Water Park behind the check-in counter.
My wife and I aren’t sick; the music brings our minds to ease with a familiarity that we know well. We have listened to that soundtrack every week for the last 25 years and know its notes by heart. Before checking in we just listen to it while we sit in one of the lobby seats and watch the Virgin Galactic shuttle pull away from the docking station and head back to earth with its navigational thrusters silently pushing it back into a declination orbit to Spaceport America—our home launch point. In another three hours that same ship will be back with more visitors and within 30 minutes another ship will arrive from Spaceport America and fifteen minutes after that, one from Space Port Japan, then one from Spaceport Europe. Because Virgin Galactic has brought the Internet to Africa—they now have one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Soon they will have their own spaceport in right in the middle of the Congo.
My wife and I head to our rooms and prepare for dinner. We spend five solid hours drinking our expensive bottle of wine sitting on our hotel bed watching the world turn—literally. And we cherish that this event has finally been made possible after many years of dreaming. The whole time we listen to our well-played soundtrack for the several hundred thousandth time—Interstellar, as we have always loved it and likely always will.
That soundtrack actually only came out a few days ago, on November 17, 2014, so my son-in-law rushed to Barnes and Nobel to get it for he and my daughter the moment it was unloaded from the delivery truck. They spent their evening listening to it while eating Chinese food from their favorite restaurant—and they gave me a copy. They have already seen the movie twice and are looking for ways to see it many more times. In what’s being touted as a first-of-its-kind promotion, Paramount and AMC Theatres are offering movie patrons in North America the chance to see Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar as many times as they want, for one price.
As with any deal, there are rules. Those who want to participate must be members of the AMC Stubs program, which has an annual fee of $12.
The unlimited tickets will be available for sale to AMC Stubs members at 330 AMC theater across the country, including AMC Imax locations. The price will range from $19.99 to $34.99, depending upon the location (currently, the average cost of a movie ticket price in the U.S. is $8.08.
Interstellar requires for most people many viewings just to understand everything that is happening. Many critics of the film on their first viewings were used to a more conventional film experience and didn’t know what to make of some of the sound issues. As I said in my review—I think I was the first and only one to date to point it out—the sound in Interstellar was entirely on purpose. Christopher Nolan wanted there to be times where the events overwhelmed the sound made by the actors—because in real life—that happens often.
“I’ve always loved films that approach sound in an impressionistic way and that is an unusual approach for a mainstream blockbuster, but I feel it’s the right approach for this experiential film,” Christopher Nolan said, speaking for the first time in detail about the use of sound in his new film.
It is because of this approach to sound that the Interstellar soundtrack was so exceptionally good—and is why it will become the inspiration for all that I described above. When my kids gave me the first copy of the soundtrack and I played it for much of the day on Tuesday and Wednesday listening to it many, many times—it was easy to conclude that it was a masterpiece. I remember the music being great during the movie, but listening to it by itself, it was simply phenomenal as it steps up and well beyond anything that’s ever been attempted. The closest that I can think of is Philip Glass—but the Hans Zimmer approach comes with a much bolder, and narrative link to the future by drawing so historically on the past.
Blasting through the track on the soundtrack titled “S.T.A.Y” all that I began this writing above occurred with the epiphany. Many of the world’s problems seemed so miniscule and the minds that made them that way even less relevant. I could literally reach out and touch that future space station/hotel as if I were there, as if I could smell it, taste it and walk across its vast floors with Richard Branson still alive and standing in the corner welcoming his guests with long flowing locks still beyond his shoulders with a smile from ear to ear.
At dinner in my epiphany there was a guest who played in the center of a vast dinning hall with a clear picture of the moon out the distant window—again spinning around with rhythmic precision upon a large glass piano lit from beneath with blue lights that made it look like it was made out of ice. That guest was an elderly Hans Zimmer playing the Interstellar soundtrack live with a deeply personal concert, graced too with a smile from ear to ear knowing that it was his soundtrack that helped build this palace of achievement in defiance of the earthly stupidity which attempted to shackle man’s ankles to earth forever. His music helped free those shackles to usher in this entirely new age of dreamers, fortune hunters and lovers of science and possibility. It was and would be the best dinner of our lives. Happy 50th Anniversary to us—and it was.