Seriously, people, ALL THE SPOILERS.
I have a couple outstanding questions about Interstellar, like “Did they really name the kid Cooper Cooper?” and the Jedi Question. (The Jedi Question is: Much like there’s not enough time to go from “The Jedi Council runs the galaxy” with young adult Anakin Skywalker to “Your sad devotion to that ancient religion” and Han not believing in that crap with middle-aged Anakin, there’s not enough time between Cooper the NASA test pilot crashing a Ranger spacecraft and NASA being in hiding and textbooks saying the Apollo missions never happened. I don’t think there is anyway).
So I’ve been looking online to see and hear people’s deconstructions of the movie. I hopefully watched Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Saint Tyson, I like to call him) “explain the end of Interstellar,” but he didn’t, he just talked about how spacetime and dimensions work. I’ve watched and read other “explanations” that just basically narrate the movie.
What I haven’t seen is anything that really does EXPLAIN it. So I’m going to.
The movie is pretty much what it says on the tin, up until Cooper goes into the singularity. There are a couple things worth commenting on before that, however, so let’s get them out of the way.
1. If the only two crops left are corn and okra, why hasn’t everyone killed themselves? Seriously, I couldn’t live with a diet of okra. Sorry, I digress…the real question is, how are Cooper and John Lithgow drinking beer? What was the beer made from?
Answer: I’m pretty sure they never say it’s “beer.” Anyway, you can make beer from corn, it just isn’t as marketable apparently.
2. Crop blights don’t kill the host crop. The blight would kill itself that way.
Answer: Fine. It’s something else just being called a blight, and it’s fucked itself, but fucked us first.
3. NASA collaborates with other countries now, and the drone was Indian. What’s with the American Exceptionalism?
Answer: Look at Colorado, people. How do you think India, Russia, and Japan are doing in that world? Also, American moviemakes just can’t help themselves; even Exodus was American Exceptionalism.
4. Why was Cooper willing to drive over his crop and make us sit in the theater for 10 additional minutes to hack-jack a drone?
Answer: I have no fucking idea. Neither he, Murph, nor his dumb redneck kid used either the drone or the hacking skills again. I guess maybe to show us what a badass on-the-fly engineer he is? Still lame.
5. Where was NASA getting the money to have the Secret Underground Lair staffed by hundreds?
Answer: Michael Caine’s residuals from Jaws 3-D? Dunno but I file this one under “giving the movie its premise.”
6. Why was Brand so hellbent on getting Miller’s data? Wasn’t it pretty obvious what happened? Also, why did Doyle, who was a lot closer to the ship than Brand, just stand there like a dumbass with his mouth open?
Answer: The real question is, why wasn’t he wearing a red shirt over his suit?
OK, I think that’s it for the outstanding questions before the first bathroom break. The ones between that and the second bathroom break are “Because Surprise Matt Damon is batshit crazy, that’s why.”
Third Act time.
What was the stuff that Cooper hit going into the singularity? How did he survive outside of his spaceship once it came apart around him? How did TARS survive? How was TARS talking to him? Why did he have to resort to pushing books and dust around to communicate? How did he survive in space for 100 years (or so)? When he woke up in the hospital, why wasn’t he hooked up to anything? How could he walk so quickly? Why did his daughter spend the last two years of her life in cryosleep to come visit him only to tell him to get lost? When the storied patriarch of the family enters the hospital room, why does no one look at him? If all his descendants were on Cooper Station, why had no one come to see their famous grandpa? Why did the kid have him move into a museum? Why did the museum still have glass bottles of corn beer? How the heck was TARS there? How does someone steal and launch a ship off of a spacestation without alerting anyone? (I mean seriously, if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that space stations are designed to not let doors open into space without comment).
When you have this many questions, you need to start looking for an unreliable narrator.
In this case, the unreliability comes from us viewers not being able to think beyond 4 dimensions. We all live in 4 dimensions and are 4-dimensional beings, but we can only manipulate the 3 dimensions below us. We don’t have access to the past or the future.
However, if we were 5-dimensional beings, we would be able to manipulate the 4 lower dimensions to include time. That’s a tesseract and that’s what was so well visualized in the film after Cooper’s spaceship comes apart around him and he’s in the singularity. At that point, Cooper has levelled up. He’s now a resident of 5 dimensions (at least). He constructs the tesseract, but a tesseract can only navigate time, not space, so in order to talk to Murph he has to pick a place that she’s likely to be frequently and of course since he already had done it, he does it and selects her room. He really is a ghost.
But he still can’t communicate because neither willpower nor sound can cross dimensions, only gravity can. He can act on things that are 3D, just like you and I can interact with things that are 2D, so he does that in ways that will cast a gravity shadow or gravity effect across spacetime.
He’s panicked at first, so he says “STAY!!!” but then he figures it out and realizes that he needs to get Cooper and Murph to NORAD, because he did, and that’s how humanity starts the evolution into higher dimensions. Then he realizes he still needs the quantum data that TARS collected, so he accesses TARS, who was destroyed by the singularity but it also always in existence via it.
All done, he dissolves the tesseract and (probably creates the wormhole) and now, as a waveform rather than a 3D meatsack, shakes hands with Brand as the Endurance comes through.
He still conceptualizes himself as himself, though, so when Cooper Station arrives a moment later (for him), he builds a narrative interface to help himself meet Murph. The reason no one sees him is because he isn’t there. Murph didn’t come to Cooper Station to see him, she came to be with her family. He timed his manifestation to coincide with her arrival. There is no plan for him to live in the museum because he doesn’t exist in 3D. He’s not there.
However, it seems like he can interact with 3D things more effectively now than just dropping books. It’s possible he used gravity to move the Ranger he steals to Edmunds’ World for use by Brand. Otherwise I don’t know why it was missing…but whatever the reason, Waveform Cooper didn’t have to open a launch port to take it.
I still can’t figure out why he or someone else would have caused the gravitational anomaly that caused his crash earlier in his life, but maybe that was him or Brand or another of the evolved Them doing it so that he’d be around to raise Murph.
In my narrative, Doyle stops and stares because Waveform Cooper is adjusting spacetime and gravity around him and uplifting Doyle or transferring him away from that danger to go be useful on Edmunds’ World. We only see his suit later, floating on the water – he might not be in it.
Likewise, Dr. Batshit Mann didn’t have his bot rigged to blow up the pod, Waveform Cooper does it cover the fact that he’s moved Bromley Across the 8th Dimension. I totally stole this from Michael Crichton’s Airframe. Or Timeline. Or Airline. Or Timeframe.
But still…Cooper Cooper?