Interstellar screenwriter on the film's darker, but simpler, original ending

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Mar 20, 2015, 8:03 PM EDT (Updated)

Whether you loved or hated Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic Interstellar, there's a pretty good chance you spent some time after the movie ended parsing exactly what happened in the film's final minutes. Even viewers who absolutely loved the film and went back for multiple viewings might not be able to give you a comprehensive explanation of what exactly happened, and if you're still trying to decide what you believe, you'll find no shortage of theories floating around online.

According to Nolan's brother and co-writer Jonathan, though, the film's original script ended things in a "much more straightforward" way. 

SPOILERS AHEAD, in case you still haven't seen Interstellar.

Earlier this week, Jonathan Nolan and physicist Kip Thorne (who was the film's science advisor) appeared at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Lab to promote Interstellar's upcoming Blu-ray release. During a Q&A, Nolan was asked to explain what exactly happens at the end of the film, and after first joking that "you've got the wrong brother," he revealed that the ending he originally scripted “had the Einstien-Rosen bridge [colloquially, a wormhole] collapse when Cooper tries to send the data back.”

In the final film, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and the robot TARS pilot their ship into the black hole "Gargantua" in an effort to observe the way gravity behaves beyond the black hole's event horizon, something no one's ever been able to observe before. The goal is to collect gravitational data and somehow transmit it back to Earth in time for Cooper's daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain) to solve the gravity equation and get everyone off the dying planet. Cooper eventually winds up in a "tesseract" through which he can see all of Murph's timeline in a three-dimensional space, and he ultimately uses that to encode the gravitational data into a watch he gave Murph, sending her planet-saving information (and his love) across time and space. Cooper then wakes up in a hospital onboard a space station to find that humanity is still alive beyond Earth, and that decades have passed in Murph's life.

Even if you don't quite get it, it's kind of awe-inspiring, and Nolan's original ending would've featured almost none of it. No tesseract, no coded message in a watch, no waking up on a space station and presumably no chance of getting back to the solar system where Brand (Anne Hathaway) settled alone on a distant planet. Just Cooper sacrificing himself to save his daughter and everyone else back on Earth (provided he got the data to Murph in time, anyway). It's simpler, it's more bleak, and it may well have given us just as many divisive reactions as the final ending did, because that's just how it tends to go with Christopher Nolan movies. As it is, Christopher came up with the tesseract idea, changes were made, and that's the film we saw.

Interstellar hits Blu-ray on March 31. What do you think? Would you have preferred Jonathan Nolan's ending?

(Via Nerdist)