About That 'Interstellar' Ending

(Warning: The following contains major spoilers about the ending of Interstellar.) As is the modus operandi of Christopher Nolan, Interstellar ends on a probing question. The same kind of question that capped Inception (“Is Leo stuck in a dream?!”) or The Dark Knight Rises (“Did Batman survive?!”) or The Prestige (“Whoa, where did all those hats come from?!”). The mystery we’re left with at the end of this latest venture: Does Matthew McConaughey join Anne Hathaway on her otherwise unoccupied planet?

At the end of the film, McConaughey awakens post-black-hole entry in a hospital bed on an Earthling colony orbiting Saturn. Humans have built small societies of the like, but still long for a planet all their own. Meanwhile, a wormhole and change away, we have Hathaway: sitting pretty on a perfectly habitable world, but starved for company.

Unlike Nolan’s other “question endings,” that of Interstellar seems armed with an answer at the ready. McConaughey laments the backward thinking of the colony’s design, himself starved for progress and development — that which might be afforded by a new planet… you know, the sort that Hathaway has at her disposal.

If McConaughey’s own interests weren’t enough, probing from his daughter — the love of his life, with whom he reunites in her final moments — to set off, find the lonely Hathaway, and begin humanity anew, seems to be all the motivation he’d need. Plus, he kinda liked Hathaway. They had some fine banter, which can go a long way in the black silence of space.

The most important “evidence” is of the thematic variety. McConaughey’s character choosing to stay behind, resisting exploration and repopulation, seems like it might contradict everything the movie has been yearning to build. Interstellar is a story about moving forward, and it wouldn’t really make sense to end on a note that opts not do so.

Image: Paramount Pictures