Ice Planet interstellar

5. The Mission Only Travels To One Planet: The Ice Planet

The mission plan is to go through the wormhole to the other galaxy. Once there, use the ship’s trajectory to slingshot around a small black hole named Pantagruel, a journey that will take a few days but will be the equivalent of about five earth years, to reach the ice planet they learned about from the space probe. NASA hopes to find a place to restart human life on the planet, which has very thin nitrogen-based atmosphere, which has a surface of ninety percent frozen water, ten percent rock and lots of pockets of oxygen below.

You might be shocked to learn that the original story only visits one planet, the ice planet that was indicated in the probe. We don’t see or hear about any of the other planets featured in the film. The Endurance parks in orbit a few hundred kilometers above the surface of the ice planet, and the crew must navigate a landing module through hundreds of tiny moons hurtling around the planet at high speeds.


6. You Won’t Believe What They Find On The Ice Planet: The Chinese?!

In a Lost-style twist, they discover a metal door hidden underneath the ice. What?! And steps away they find a bright patch of red fabric below the ice — the flag of the People’s Republic of China. They open the door and find a dusty Chinese base camp. How did the Chinese find out about the wormhole?

They discover a half a dozen of NASA’s probes locked away in an equipment locker — No wonder they never returned to Earth, the Chinese must have captured them. They quickly figure out that the crew was from a Mars mission that the Chinese claimed had been destroyed on landing. But the real truth is the four person 15 robot mission had landed on the ice planet 30 years ago.

Cooper finds graves for the entire human crew outside in the snow and meanwhile Roth figures out why: not only is this ice planet orbiting the back hole but also a neutron star. The black hole shields the planet’s surface from it for 20 hours a day, and if they don’t escape the planet in five minutes the radiation will cook them alive. With no time to return to the ship, they decide to go down a three-foot wide mine shaft the Chinese crew were digging in the ice before they died. But the 150 foot deep shaft isnt enough to shield them from the X-rays, so they try to make use of a drill and a pick left behind in the shaft.

Case cracks a hole in the ice below them and they fall through the ice thousands of feet down onto the surface. The planet is actually hidden underneath a cloud-like massive layer of ice, hiding the pure oxygen atmosphere below (created by tiny organisms trapped in the ice that absorb the x-rays and emit light and oxygen to the atmosphere below).

Interstellar Kip Thorne

7. A Gravity Machine Is Discovered

In the film, Professor Brand has spent his whole life supposedly trying to solve a gravity equation which would allow Earth to launch a space station saving the lives of many people on the planet. The original script never had scientists on earth trying to solve such an issue, and the secret NASA base was not built in a centrifuge space station. But thats not to say that the gravity problem wasn’t solved elsewhere…

In the original screenplay, the crew eventually find a huge fortified Chinese base on the planet surface. The Chinese robots survived and built the colony to house thousands of people but since the Chinese government collapsed no one ever showed up.

According to the logs, the robots discovered evidence of another small black hole moving into this star system (too small to be seen in the initial survey) which will divert the orbit just enough that the ice planet will eventually be destroyed in Pantagruel’s event horizon. A few years in the robots left the planet and went in search of a solution, returning with some kind of new technology. They returned five years later and began experiments before leaving permanently.

In the Chinese bunker, they find the laboratory containing a machine, when turned on, suddenly the gravity of the room changes and up is down, down is up and sideways is not. (This whole sequence feels like it would be visually similar to sequences in Inception, so I can see why Christopher Nolan cut this idea out of the movie.) The machine somehow adjusts gravity, and Roth theorizes they created it to maybe fire into the black hole to save the planet. Roth theorizes that once the Chinese robots realized it wasn’t enough, abandoned the mission but that the technology is what could save everyone on earth — being able to control Earth’s gravity could let them go anywhere. They load the code for the gravity machine onto one of the space probes and take it with them.

Matt Damon in Elysium

8. Evil Matt Damon Never Shows Up, But Instead We Get Aliens and Bad Robots

The jungle underneath the ice turns out to be comprised of fractal alien creatures who completely disassembles itself into a million different sized creatures during the day. At first glance, they seem to be trying to kill one another. The crew later discover that the aliens are a colony of creatures actually trying to combine and spreading themselves as thin as they can to absorb the maximum amount of light. Before leaving the planet, Brand takes a sample of some of the fractal life-forms to bring back with her.

The crew decides to leave the planet but camouflaged Chinese robot marines reveal themselves and won’t let them leave with the technology. CASE stays behind to hold them off to allow the crew to hike up the mountain to the ice surface. They make it but their lander has been damaged, keeping them grounded.

A ridiculously convoluted solution is invented to get them out of the situation, which involves Roth using the escape rocket from the Chinese shelter to land on one of the moons orbiting the ice planet and activates the gravity device to allow the lander to take off, but also sacrificing himself in the process. CASE makes it back to the lander in time, but Brand and Cooper don’t because Brand stumbles and Cooper decides to go back for her rather than make it to the ship himself. They embrace as they get pulled up into the thin atmosphere. Somehow Doyle is able to maneuver the lander beneath them and save them before they die.

Once back on the Endurance, CASE detaches the ship’s last nuclear engine which causes the ship to get pulled back towards the black hole. CASE reveals…. dun dun dunnnnnn that he is not actually CASE but one of the Chinese robots (they look very similar since they are of the same robot marine model). They take him down but watch helpless as decades play out in fast forward around them as they get closer to the black hole. The ice planet gets smashed apart as it hits the event horizon, and then the wormhole gets pulled in as well. The fractal life-forms Brand took with her are now the last of their kind.

And its worth noting that while Dr. Mann (Matt Damon‘s character) doesn’t appear in this earlier version, much of dialogue about humans being programed to survive through relationships and how the last thing humans will see before they die are their children which makes them fight for survival, is delivered by CASE during Endurance’s mission to the wormhole. Its interesting that Christopher Nolan rarely did away with good bits of dialogue, instead repurposing them in other moments and other characters.

Continue Reading 15 Interstellar Script Differences >>

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