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Like many, I watched enthralled when Interstellar (2014) came out into theaters. Even before I first saw the film, I’d heard that there were some fairly intense musical sequences. But nothing, absolutely NOTHING could prepare me for the sequence known as “No time for caution.” To briefly sum up how the story gets to this point: Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is put in charge of a mission to scout three planets to see if one of them is capable of supporting the human race in place of the dying Earth. One planet has already been proven unviable, the third is too far away, and the second planet was claimed (falsely) by Dr. Mann (Matt Damon) to be a viable place to live (frigid conditions notwithstanding).
Dr. Mann claimed that there was water located deep under the surface. Cooper discovered this was a lie and after surviving a murder attempt, Cooper and Brand (Anne Hathaway) chase after Dr. Mann who is making his way to the spaceship Endurance without them. Insane after years of isolation, Dr. Mann has convinced himself that he can somehow control the Endurance and take it back to Earth. In his rush to board, Mann ignores the fact that his ship is docked improperly, meaning the hatch seal is not stable. When the door seal is forced to open anyway, Mann is blown out of the ship into space and Endurance is sent spinning out of control. If Cooper and Brand can’t dock and stabilize the ship, humanity is doomed.
This is where the cue begins. There is a long high pitched drone immediately after the explosion (as Cooper and Brand watch in shock as Endurance begins to spin wildly). Then a strong drumbeat sets in as Cooper makes his decision. He orders TARS (a robot) to analyze the Endurance’s rate of spin (to help with docking). And when Brand asks the fateful question “Cooper what are you doing?” The only answer is “Docking.” This one word sets off the next stage of the cue in a revolving spiral of theme and variation.
In fact, I listened to this cue over and over and it finally hit me, that composer Hans Zimmer used a Baroque form called passacaglia when he put this cue together. A passacaglia is a musical form based on a repeating melody in the bass line. As you listen to the cue, listen closely to the primary melody (which launches around 0:44, 0:45 in the soundtrack version) and hear how it continues, leaping from instrument to instrument for most of the piece.
I hope you enjoy “No Time for Caution” as much as I do. Please comment if you liked it (or even if you didn’t).
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