Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night: Claustrophobia and Human Nature in space blockbusters

The title quote for this article is taken from Dylan Thomas’ poem by the same name that is used and re-used in Christopher Nolan’s 2014 sci-fi epic, Interstellar. It is a poem that deals with man’s composure on the brink of death, and one can see - to an extent - how Thomas’s urging that one must ‘burn and rave at close of day’ has its links to the humanity facing extinction and turning to the stars that the Nolan brothers depict. It strikes me as perhaps not so coincidental that another of Thomas’s most famous works, ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’, can be found in the 2002 remake of Tarkovsky’s epic Solaris. As a genre, the “sci-fi [or] space epic” employs survival against all odds (and occasionally, all dimensions) as one of its key themes.