INTERSTELLAR Breakdown | Ending Explained, East...

INTERSTELLAR Breakdown | Ending Explained, Easter Eggs, Hidden Details & Things You Missed

Credit: WB/Syncopy (Interstellar)

Interstellar is one of Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious movies. This is pretty much his 2001, and the director has a number of references to that and other movies. Throughout this video, we’re going to be breaking it all down and talking about the hidden details in it, easter eggs, and also the true meaning of the movie and its ending.

Now you can tell from Christopher Nolan’s movies that he’s absolutely obsessed with time. It’s laced throughout a lot of his work, from more obvious examples like Tenet down to more subtle things like his non-chronological storytelling. Memento gave the director a name, and this told the main story backwards so that we could be hit with lots of twists and reveals. Inception had time melding as we got deeper into a dream, and both Batman Begins and The Prestige used flashbacks throughout.

Dunkirk had different periods of time being shown to us, and in interstellar time, it’s almost like a force fighting against the protagonists. At its core, Interstellar has always been about a father sacrificing the time he has with his children in order to do his work. I’m sure this is something a lot of people can relate to, and it leads to one of the most devastating scenes in the film.

The theory of relativity is laced throughout, with time being something that the characters experience as moving differently depending on where they are.

However, the idea of time extends beyond that, and the ship Endurance is even shaped like the face of a clock. We can see that it has a circular design with compartments going around it. In total, there are 12 of them, each subtly hinting at this idea.

I think the most devastating planet that they travel to is the water one, where we learn that the speed at which they experience time could cost them years on earth. This is reflected in the soundtrack too, and the ticks you can hear in the music give the idea that time is working against them.

Interstellar Breakdown

However, these ticks happen at the time they do for a specific reason. Every one of them happens at one and a quarter seconds exactly. Broken down, this equates to one tick equaling one day on Earth. So you can literally hear the days ticking away as the crew searches for what’s happened here.

I didn’t discover this myself, so if you’re the person who did, then write it in the comments. If no one claims it, then we just give this Easter egg to everyone, and well done, mate; give yourself a pat on the back for that amazing detail.

Now, this planet was ventured to by Miller, who sent back a signal saying it was safe to travel to. They clearly hadn’t experienced the waves yet and thought it was safe, which is why they gave the green light.

Due to the time dilation, we learn that Miller likely died minutes before their arrival, and knowing this at the start of the scene actually adds a lot to it.

If you zoom in, you can just make out this happening as the ship descends from the clouds. When they land, the wave that we see off in the distance behind them is the same one that just killed Miller.

The Miller Killer, if you will.

Another nice detail as they come down is that the ripples in the waves are moving in different directions. This is because of the planet’s proximity to the black hole, which is causing lots of gravitational anomalies such as this. It’s even possible that the planet would be safe, but due to the strong gravity field from the hole, everything is being pulled in.

The black hole in the movie is something that is actually ground-breaking, and it was built to be as scientifically accurate as it could be. It’s a full render of Einstein’s equation spat out in IMAX on a 32,000-core render farm that worked at 20 core hours per frame.

This means that each frame featuring it took roughly 100 hours to render. The end result was so accurate that it actually brought forth real scientific insight, and so far three papers have been published on the information gained from it. This wouldn’t have been available in Einstein’s day, but rendering it this way allowed scientists to study a representation of it inside a computer.

Named Gargantua, this means giant or collossol, and they explain it by folding paper and using a pencil to show how one can travel from one point to another. The first time I saw this example was back in Event Horizon, and Jane Foster mentioned both this movie and that when discussing it in Thor: The Dark World.

Now the movie opens on Murphy’s bookcase, with some dust falling from a shelf out of view. Due to the events that happen at the end, we know this is caused by Cooper, and this is the first anomaly that brings in the drone.

The bookcase itself is actually filled with ones that share themes with the movie.

There’s the Stephen King book The Stand, which is about a post-apocalyptic world in which the last humans are trying to survive. You can tell it’s that book instantly off the spine, because, dear me, the size of that story means everyone who’s made it through it knows what I’m talking about.

There’s a wrinkle in time that talks about higher dimensions and also includes a tesseract.

There’s Flatland A Romance of Many Dimensions, Labriynths, The Go Between, and Selected Poems, which deals with time and space.

Lastly, at the end, when Cooper is watching his past self leave Murph, we can see on the shelf near his head the book Lois Lowry’s The Willoughbys. This is a story about the effects that a parent’s neglect has on their children, which is echoed in the scene of him leaving her.

At this point, we get Nolan once again playing with time as we see an older Murph being played by Ellen Burstyn. She talks about her father, and this is taking aspects of a documentary that appears later on at the end of the film to recount Murphy’s childhood and life on Earth.

We see several survivors of this, and these are apparently taken from the Ken Burns documentary The Dust Bowl.

This four-hour-long film chronicles the man-made ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl. It affected 100 million acres of land in Texas and caused lots of health issues.

Credit: WB/Syncopy (Interstellar)
Credit: WB/Syncopy (Interstellar)

She talks about how her father was a farmer, and we see a giant corn field. Now Nolan loves doing things practically, as was seen in Tenet when he crashed a plane just for a scene. This is the case in Interstellar too and rather than using CGI for these fields he actually had 500 acres of corn planted for the film.

Thrifty as ever, Nolan actually sold this once the movie was complete and made a profit, which he used for the budget. We discover in the movie that an event known as the blight has ravaged all crops on Earth except for corn. This is the only surviving food source, and corn is laced throughout almost everything that they eat. Murph brings her dad a Corn Bread sandwich, they can only get popcorn at the baseball games and a corny breakfast of pancakes and Chowder is also given to them in the bowls.

Corn syrup is also used along with corn juice for their drinks.

Mmmmm delicious corn juice, available now in all good shops.

Now that Murph says her father was a farmer, we immediately cut to him as a pilot, referencing not only his past but also the journey he takes in the film. Cooper is clearly very experienced, which is why he was picked by Nasa.

We see this knowledge paying off later on when Cooper is trying to reattach the endurance. During the spin, Brand puts her head into the spin, which causes her to blackout. Cooper, on the other hand, turns away from it, and thus he stays conscious.

Now this is a dream, and he wakes up to find Murph standing over him.

Who Was The Ghost In Interstellar?

Now, Nolan often likes to spoil his movies early on, and we pointed this out in our Prestige video due to the two opening shots in the film. These told us the twists in the opening frames, and Murp also spoiled the ending reveal here.

I thought you were the ghost.

Later on, we learn that Cooper is, in fact, the ghost in Murph’s room, and…

Dust is also a big thing in the movie too.

Dust anyone?

This is laced throughout how the people live, with plates being placed upside down and tarps covering vehicles when they’re not in use. The dust storms that roll in were also done practically, with Nolan hiring out a real town. Sand was lined along it, and then fans were put in place to blast it in to create the effect we see in the movie. Nolan did clear it out in the end, and it adds to the realism that we see on screen.

At the end of the movie, Cooper is taken to a recreation of his home, and he’s told that it’s been rebuilt exactly as it was on Earth. However, this isn’t the case, and Coop runs his finger along the table for dust, which, of course, isn’t there.

Outside, Donald tells him about how a teacher at his kids school is single and how he should help repopulate the earth. It might be reaching, but he will end up going out to a planet at the end that has a brand and some embryos where they will help revitalise the species.

Now on the way to a parent-teacher conference, they see a drone drifting in overhead.

In the first draft of the script, oh my god, that’s bloody. Timothy Chalamet: I forgot he was in this.

Anyway, nevermind. In the first draft of the script, the Drone was supposed to be what Coop sent back with the equation of how to handle the gravity problem. However, this was later changed to what we get in the final film. The drone is still a remnant of that, and though it doesn’t really serve much of a purpose, it indicates strange things are happening on the farm.

Just before it swoops in, Coop explains Murphy’s law to his daughter and how anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Murphy’s law is something that we can’t actually test for because any test that carries it out is, by Murphy’s Law, doomed to fail.

However, in the film, I think it takes on a more optimistic approach. The laws of the universe have a balance to them, so if things can go wrong, they can also go right. Plan A and Plan B are seen in the movie as two eventualities that could keep the human race alive. Initially Plan A was that people would venture into space and send back a way for the remaining humans to travel into the stars. However, this was thought to be a pointless endeavor, and thus the real plan would be Plan B. This would carry embryos into space that could then restart the human race.

Credit: WB/Syncopy (Interstellar)
Credit: WB/Syncopy (Interstellar)

In the end, both plans come to fruition and work out, hence Murphy’s law.

There’s also the mention of Newton’s Third Law, which states that in order to go somewhere, you have to leave somewhere. Cooper is of course leaving his family behind, bringing this idea into the film’s themes and also its characters actions.

Now we discover later on that the drone is from India, and this is hinted at to us when Cooper is hacking it. In a split-second shot, we can see some text pop up on screen, and this is in Hindi.

Now, as we mentioned earlier, the drone is actually being pulled towards the house due to the gravitational anomalies from the tesseract. This happens with the combine harvesters also being pulled towards the house later on.

At school, Coop wants his son to go to college, and when this idea is shut down, he brings up his taxes.

We discover that they’re not going to the army, but they’re also not going to the university either. In actuality, these are being siphoned off secretly to Nasa, which has to be kept on the downlow because of public opinion. The government has put out the idea that the moon landing was fake in order to keep people grounded as farmers.

They are deliberately discrediting the past so that people look for dirt. Tom doesn’t want to accept this at first, but overtime he simply accepts the fact that his dad isn’t coming back and he goes back to looking at being a farmer. However, Murph doesn’t, and deep down, she continues to hope that her dad will return.

They’ve also stopped putting money into medical equipment too, and had MRI machines still been developed, then Cooper’s wife’s tumor would’ve been caught before she died.

Now, as mentioned, they’re secretly putting money into them so that they can find a way to save the human race.

Really nice touch on the book on the table, and you can see that there’s a brown stain on the top from the dust.

The dust rolls in at the Yankees game, and these are pretty crap players again due to people being pushed into being farmers.

Cooper ventures through the dust with his family, and the sound effects used remind me a lot of their journey through space.


There’s a low rumble to it, and it’s very similar to the takeoff sound. The truck is also much like the ship, traveling through an inhospitable area while those inside are protected from it.

Figuring out that the dust leaves are coordinated, Cooper heads out to them with Murph as a stowaway. Nice touch as he opens the truck door, and we can see that he’s stuffed a rag in the vents to stop dust from coming in the car.

Upon arriving at the base, we see a sign that saysNorad,” which is now what Nasa is going by. This is a real-life institution, and it stands for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Now, in the first of many 2001 similarities, we meet TARS, who is an AI that has a voice based on HAL. Like Hal, the machines journey into space with the crew, but they don’t turn evil and try to kill them all.


Tars is called this because it’s actually an anagram of star. We meet Case on the Endurance, and the other one is called Kipp. This is actually named after Kip Thorne, who helped make the film as scientifically accurate as possible.

On the front of TARS, we can also see dots next to his name, and this is actually braille to help blind people with his name.

Other 2001 references happen when we see the truck transition into the space ship as Cooper is driving away. 2001 is famous for its smash cut from a bone to a ship, and this allows us to immediately fill in the blanks of what happened in between.

There’s also Cooper seeing messages from his children on TV, which happens in 2001 early on with the traveler getting one from his daughter on her birthday. He missed out on that to continue his work, much like how Cooper missed out on his kids.

Here we’re introduced to Dr Brand played by Anne Hathaway.

Hathaway sports a short haircut throughout this movie, and though it’s a slick look, it’s actually done for a reason beyond just how it looks. In zero gravity, long hair obviously would flop about, and having it cut shorter would save a ton on the CGI budget.

Cooper is reunited with his daughter, and we discover that Nasa is working on something known as the Lazarus project. Alongside Jesus, this biblical figure is the only person who came back to life, and the name is picked to talk about restarting the human race.

We get a small glimpse of Matt Damon on the wall amongst the astronauts, but it’s something you might be able to fully make out on your first watch.

Damon’s casting was kept secret so that people weren’t sitting around thinking, “When is he showing up?” instead of focusing on the plot. This is the same with Casey Affleck and also with Topher Grace.

Brand senior takes Cooper for a tour, and he explains the two plans, one of which was a lie. On a second watch, Caine’s performance takes on a whole new meaning, and we understand what really drives him. He weaponizes the idea that Murph and her generation will die if they stay on Earth, which pushes Cooper forward.

He knows that a parent will want to save their child, as he himself also does this. Brand senior sends his daughter into space because he knows that’s the best way for her to have a chance.

Caine also has some incredible mannerisms in the movie that you only pick up on a second watch. He’s evasive when people get too close to learning the truth, and he acts very sheepish around certain conversation topics.

Cooper says goodbye, and he says,

I can’t be your ghost right now.

Eventually he of course will be and even the books falling dont stop him.

I love the little goodbye he has with Tom, and it’s very much him saying that he’s the man of the house now.

He lifts up the blankets in his car, and while Murph was hiding under them last time, she’s no longer there.

They make it to the endurance, and it’s designed like most ships, where everything is symmetrical. This is so that things can be operated no matter what orientation the person onboard has.

Now at this point, we hear the poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.

Cultural References In Interstellar

This is about how life is precious and should be fought for. Something that Cooper later adopts against Mann.

They go down for a long nap, and upon waking up, we can see Cooper winding up his watch. This is one that winds up due to movement, and due to him sleeping, this would have completely stopped.

At this point, they hit Saturn and traveled into the black hole.

Lots of similarities to Contact with this scene and we see as time and space folds around them in order to propel them out of the galaxy.

They have three planets to visit, and no prizes for guessing that the first one doesn’t end up going well for them.

As they head down, we hear

A little caution will get you killed.

This plays off later too, when Coop has to dock the endurance.

As I’m sure you can guess, this planet fascinates me, and I love the way that the water is so shallow because it’s being sucked up to create the giant tidal waves.

Credit: WB/Syncopy (Interstellar)
Credit: WB/Syncopy (Interstellar)

There’s a desperate run for the ship, and as the ship is hit, we can catch Tars prepping itself to hold Brand in place. They lose decades and also Doyle. We see an astronaut face down in the water as they escape the planet, and what really works about this scene is that we don’t know who this is. This could be Doyle; however, it could just as easily be Miller due to the time dilation.

Upon returning to the ship, they find Romilly, who’s a broken man.

Cooper also gets the messages from his children, and he misses out on Tom meeting his first love, on him having his first child, and we also learn that they sadly died due to the blight. Donald passed too, and we watched him go from an optimistic child to a devastated adult in seconds. They name their second child Coop after him, but he’s not been there for his son through his hardest moments.

We then see a message from Murph, who tells her that she’s the same age as her dad was when he left.

We then spent some time with her and Professor Brand.

He discusses how all the rivets they’re pumping into the ship could’ve been bullets, and we learn that the government actually wanted to slaughter some of the population to make it easier on the rest. Brand earlier talked about NASA dropping bombs from the sky, but he’s got them all pulling together because they believe they can survive.

To Professor Brand, the lie is a positive so that people have hope, and he further avoids the talk of the equation and how it’s not really working.

Upon discovering that Brand had a thing with Edmunds, they decide to head to Mann for a look at Mann’s ugly side.

It’s Mann vs. Mann, Mann being the reason for his own demise, and all the Mann puns you can think of.

Mann Damon, for f**ks sake…

Brand brings up how love is a force that we can’t really quantify, and similar to time and gravity, it’s something that exists across all distances and ages. I feel like Nolan is very much trying to give a science to our emotions to explain what drives the characters in this journey.

Back at the farm, we see as the blight returns while the siblings share some corn on the cob.

Murphy learns of the lie on Brand’s death bed, and it’s a chilling scene to know that the planet is doomed. Murph is desperate to know whether Cooper knew and left her to survive, but she doesn’t get an answer.

From here, we see

This is a man’s world.

We obviously learn that the great and apparently noble scientist was the best of us, but he truly demonstrates what humanity is. Selfish, cowardly, and happy to bring others down with him, he’s given the green light even though the planet he’s on is doomed.

Things are suspicious from the start, with the world being so cold that even the clouds are frozen. Kipp is dismantled as well, with Mann saying he started to degenerate. Humans obviously have a suspicion of AI, and even most of the early interactions with Tars are laced with the idea that things could go wrong. Nolan is once again playing on the plot line with HAL in 2001 and using our assumptions to make us trust Mann more than the machines. I love Damon’s performance as he comes out of his sleep sack, and you can see genuine relief mixed with sorrow and happiness.

He’s been through a lot, and he drops this iconic line.

Pray you never learn what it’s like.

At this point, they learn the truth about Plan B. Another nice, subtle detail is that Professor Brand calls it Plan B to make it sound like the fallback option. He knows humanity won’t work with each other if they don’t think there’s hope, and thus he makes this sound like it’s the one they don’t want to resort to when really it’s the main thing.

Back on Earth, Murph refuses to give up, and she also carries the secret because she knows that if the truth is revealed, then people will panic.

Here, we get a further shot of the bookcase and can also see Moby Dick. Metaphorically, this is about an unsurmountable force of nature that’s impossible to overcome, much like what they’re facing on Earth.

At this point, they decide to send Tars into the singularity in order to glimpse the core of the black hole so they can send back data to Earth. However, they have to restart Kipp, which will ruin Mann’s plan. He heads out with Cooper, and you might notice that you can see through the ground onto the landscape as they head out. This is because they’re actually walking on the glaciers, which are the landscape themselves.

Back on Earth, we see Murph go back to her room, and in a flashback, we watch as she places her watch on the book case.

To the left we see a book titled The Big Nowhere, and to the right is a biography of Charles Lindbergh. He was a pilot much like Cooper, and the Big Nowhere is what Cooper is currently in during this scene, as he’s behind the case in the tesseract.

Lots of timey-whimey, wibbly-wobbly stuff, but technically he’s here while also being with Mann.

I love the mirroring of the planets here with the hostile environment of Mann’s planet being inhabitable for humans. This is the same as back on the farm, where Tom’s wife and child were having breathing problems due to the air on the farm becoming corrupted.

Mann’s true nature is revealed, and he gave a thumbs up because he was afraid of being left alone, doomed to die by himself. The astronauts for the Lazarus mission were picked because they didn’t have any attachments to Earth. However, humanity as a species is at its core a social one, so Mann ended up reaching out. Detachment from humans is often seen as a necessity for social animals, and during the Russian space dog program, stray dogs were picked to be part of the missions. This is because they didn’t have an attachment to an owner and therefore wouldn’t suffer from the anxiety that would come from being apart.

Professor Brand kept the truth secret because he knew that people wouldn’t work together for the betterment of their fellow man if they didn’t have some stake in it too. Mann actually knew the truth, and he demonstrates that Brand was correct by pulling the astronauts in for his selfish needs.

Murph is forced away from the farm, and she drives along a queue of people heading to live underground.

We get a quick cut of some kids on the back of a truck, and the girl here is actually Christopher Nolan’s real-life daughter Flora.

Nolan had very much had to spend time away from his own daughter in order to make a career in Hollywood, and I think having her brought out to this set is very much him making it so that the pair can spend time together.

Mann recites the poem from earlier after cracking Cooper’s helmet, and I love this line.

Those are the best odds I’ve had.

He also utters lines from the poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night. This later appears at the end of the plaque we see as Cooper is being shown around the station.

Interstellar Ending Explained

Murph drives back out to the farm, and she cuts through the cornfield, echoing the earlier journey from the movie. She burns part of the field, echoing the beginning of the movie, in which a neighboring farmer’s field was on fire, showing that his crops were dying. Cooper chose to farm corn, which is why he lasted longer, and this is why Tom sees this as being such an important issue.

Romilly starts up Kipp, who explodes, killing him. However, Tars survives unscathed, hinting at how he’s built to experience extreme conditions.

In space, Mann is killed after he fails to dock due to the auto-docking feature being disabled.

He is warned about this, but similar to the helmet line, he’d rather take the risk against the low odds because he’s got nothing else.

I love the way the explosion has no sound to it because it exists in space.

After messing up the dock, we get the best scene in the movie.

I absolutely love the score here; Zimmer knocked it out of the park, and the visuals in IMAX on the OLED with the 4K Blu-ray I got, goddamn.

Sadly, the Endurance is slipping towards Gargantua, and thus they use the gravity of the black hole in order to slingshot Brand around to Edmonds planet. Apollo 13 carried out something similar in order to return home after the mission went awry. They swung around the moon to throw themselves back as they weren’t able to land on the surface.

We see the escape thrusters being fired, and we get a split-second shot of their names. They’re LMAO 1 and LMAO 2. I was laughing my ass off during this, and hey, maybe Nolan did that as a cheeky little joke.

Now, the ending of Interstella is something that still confuses people, but I believe it’s more straight-forward than a lot of people think.

We watch Cooper travel into the black hole, which somewhat echoes the journey at the end of 2001. This takes Cooper into the Tesseract, which is a term that’s gained popularity with the MCU, but it’s been around for way longer than that. A tesseract is a four-dimensional cube, and that’s what Cooper moves through when he’s behind the bookcase. As humans, we move in 3 dimensions, with the 4th dimension being time, hence why this shape was picked. Now the way I see this ending is that the humans from the future had traveled into the fourth dimension and could see all of time and space. Much like when you pick up a book, you can see the story and move both forward and backward in it. You can jump to any point in the story, and you’re able to travel through it without restriction. However, you can’t actually influence the events of the story, and they will always play out the same way. The characters in the book are the ones experiencing it, and this is very much the case with Cooper.

Now the book is the device in which the story plays out, which is what the tesseract is.

Cooper is the character in it who can influence the events.

The fifth-dimensional humans are the readers, and that’s basically what we see playing out.

A film is a similar metaphor too, and much like how we can watch Cooper jump from scene to scene, they’re able to do the same thing.

They have created the device for Cooper to travel through bu t they can’t truly do it themselves which is why they don’t just send a direct message back telling us what to do.

If they did it would also create a paradox as the events of the film need to play out in the exact same way in order for them to play out the way they do.

Hopefully that makes sense, but this is why Coop can’t stop himself from leaving and so on.

Now at this point, Murph puts her hand on the bookcase, and she touches one written by Diana Gabaldon.

This is the author of Outlander, which features time travel.

Working with Tars, he passes the message onto his daughter on how to crack the gravity equation. They put it in her watch, and upon leaving her earlier in the movie, he put her watch side by side to talk about the passage of time. This memento has brought with it the morse code on how to save humanity, and Murph figures it out.


Cooper gives the first handshake to Brand, and he’s dropped off beside Saturn, which is where he’s picked up by the humans traveling out from Earth.

Credit: WB/Syncopy (Interstellar)
Credit: WB/Syncopy (Interstellar)

As mentioned earlier, things like MRI machines and complex hospital equipment weren’t worked on because of the lack of food. Here we see, though, that Cooper Station is packed with them due to humanity once again focusing on technology. This is also how Murph has been able to live so long because medical care is now far better. We learn it’s called Cooper station, and Cooper assumes its named after him, but it’s actually named after Murph.

We see the plaque we mentioned earlier, and it shows how little humanity actually knows about the mission due to thinking everyone gave their lives. Mann is on there as well, showcasing how they don’t know about his betrayal. Of all the people left, Brand is the last survivor, and she’s now reached Edmund’s planet.

He has some time back on the porch with Tars echoing shots earlier with Donald. He says this line.

I don’t want to be back where we started.

Again, showcasing one of the reasons he ends up heading out.

Finally he’s reunited with his daughter, and… I’m not crying; you’re crying.

We see that she’s had countless children and grandchildren, showing that humanity has grown rather than died off.

The pair say their goodbyes, and he fulfills his promise to go home. No parent should have to watch their children die, and thus he heads out into the stars to join Brand.

We catch her on a planet that looks more similar to the rocky lands of Earth, but Edmunds died before she reached him.

She buries him, and with Tars and his fighter suits, Cooper heads out there.

We close in on her as she walks towards her camp, which is beaming bright. It’s only small, but it offers a ray of hope. Plan B is going to start there, and both Cooper and Brand will be the Adam and Eve of this new civilization. The people who left the quote-unquote paradise they had and went out into the harsh wasteland after discovering knowledge had to make it on their own.

That ends the movie and our breakdown too. I really hope you enjoyed it as a lot of work went into it, and again, a huge thank you for checking out the videoa huge thank you for checking out the video. If you want something else to watch, then make sure you check out our breakdown of The Prestige, which will be linked on screen now. That’s another Nolan movie that has a lot going on with it, so hopefully I see you over there.


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