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13. A Time Traveling Wormhole is Discovered

The Chinese robots found a wormhole that goes back to earth but also to a different time, just a few years after they had left. But its unclear if the Chinese made it back, so Cooper decides it is now their mission to replicate their journey and get back to Earth.

Brand is skeptical because she knows that time travel isn’t possible. She mentions the video messages as evidence that they won’t make it back. Most scientists believe that if time travel were possible it wouldn’t involve multiple timelines as in Back to the Future but one ever changing timelime — if you traveled back in time and changed it, you would already know about it. The fact that the video messages point towards them never returning to Earth is evidence to Brand that it will never actually happen.

Brand instead wants to continue exploring to try to find another place where human life could thrive, but Cooper made a promise to his son Murph that he would return, so he must try. Brand gives Cooper half of the fractal life-forms to double their chance, as a species, to survive. They kiss passionately before she takes off in the Endurance.

Cooper and Doyle go off in one of the Chinese spaceships, bringing along the code to rebuild the gravity machine which they implanted in one of the space probes they found locked up on the ice planet. It is then Cooper realizes that the probe they have with them is the same EXACT probe he found in Galveston — that additional data he initially found on the probe but was unable to reconcile was the code needed to build the gravity machine. But then Cooper realizes that while the probe makes it back, the ship and crew didn’t for whatever reason. He tries to reason with Doyle that they only send the probe into the wormhole, but Doyle is not having it and locks Cooper in the lander and sends him away as he continues into the time travel wormhole.

Doyle and the ship don’t make it through, but the space probe survives — This is the first time the story cuts back to the Earth point of view, following the space probe as it smashes into the satellite, lands on earth, just as it had before. At NASA, no one ever uncovers the code hidden on the probe. Muph is now in his 30’s, fixing farmer’s tractors with repurposed parts, just as her dad had done at his age. He decides to take Coop’s old plane to the now abandoned NASA facility to scavenge parts that he desperately needs to keep going. Murph finds the place gutted, but hears the familiar chirp of the space probe in the corner.

He brings the probe home and decrypts the additional data. Ten years later, Murph has built a version of the gravity device but it doesn’t work. Another ten years later and Murph’s 18-year-old daughter Emily decides to tinker with it and gets it working, kind of — it blows up the barn.

Jessica Chastain Xavier Dolan

14. Cooper Arrives Back on Earth, But Humanity Is Completely Gone From the Planet

Cooper finally finds a way back to Earth, now in the year 2320, two hundred years after he left. The entire planet looks barren, mother nature has begun to reclaim it as her own and snow covers the farm land. Cooper finds the remnants of his old home, and lays there completely alone. An ice storm hits and Cooper stumbles outside trying to get back to the warmth of his ship. The case of the fractal lifeforms falls to the ground and smashes, the creatures take home in the snow causing it to glow. He sees his ship and ties to make his way to it, but is unable to get there — he will die in the arctic tundra of this now desolate planet alone.

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15. The Ending on Cooper Space Station Is the Same, But Different

The original script ends very similar to Christopher Nolan’s final film: Cooper wakes up in a hospital bed, in a building contained in a huge space station. In the script, rangers found him, and returned him to Space Station Joseph A. Cooper. In the hospital he meets an old man: Anthony Cooper Welling, our hero’s great-great-grandson, who transferred to the station to meet Coop. The old man can’t speak, but slowly reaches into a drawer next to his bed and hands Cooper his watch, the watch he gave Murph when he left. Its a very emotional moment.

Cooper finds himself in a room with a bureaucrat who asks him why he released the creatures on earth. It is explained that it was against regulations and that the fractal creatures could not be contained and took over the planet. Earth from space now looks like a glowing mass of ice. Cooper asks to be enrolled in the exploration fleet; the administrator explains that is very unlikely. Most of the positions are for robots, and there are a huge number of trained applicants and very few human positions. Coop asks for a spaceship to go in search of Brand, who has been missing for over 200 human years. Cooper is denied and instead shown a cornfield on the station where he can spend his days. And just like the movie, Cooper steals a ship from the space station hanger and goes in search of Brand.

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My Final Conclusions and Thoughts

Steven Spielberg’s film likely would have been different than this — projects evolve the longer they are in development. Is the Spielberg-developed draft better than Nolan’s final film? Thats hard to say. I think both have their pluses and minuses.

I really didn’t like the deus ex machina of a gravity ghost telling Cooper to go to NASA in Nolan’s film. Sure, it turned out to be Cooper communicating from another dimension but it doesn’t make much sense, and I also don’t understand why NASA wouldn’t have investigated the phenomenon that revealed their top secret base of operations.  I do like how the original draft brings Cooper to NASA through the discovery of the space probe.

As much as I love Back to the Future, I love the idea of handling time travel in a scientifically accurate way with the time travel being concealed plot-wise in encrypted data on the space probe. I also liked the development of the Brand/Cooper relationship more in the original draft and was sitting on the edge of my seat when reading the LOST style twist of the Chinese remains found on the ice planet.

That said, the ending of the original draft has some great ideas but is too convoluted to work for mainstream audiences. I’m not even sure I explained what happens well enough in this article. The third act certainly needed more development. I know some critics are slamming the film for being too melodramatic but I really responded to the emotional moments between Cooper and Murph. I do think Nolan doing a simple thing as changing Murph’s sex to female changes so much in the reading and relationship.

But the bottom line is that we’ll never see Spielberg’s version, and I’m fine with that. Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is the movie we have, and despite any nitpicks I have with the movie, I still think its a film worthy of seeing more than once on the biggest screen possible, and that is the highest compliment I can give it.

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