Whatever you might think about “Interstellar,” there’s no denying that there have been few films that have been as talked-about this year as Christopher Nolan‘s space drama. From the experience of watching the movie (in a format of your choosing), to the science behind it, or the many clichés it embraces, you’ve likely engaged in a healthy debate with someone about some aspect of Nolan’s picture. But let’s rewind things a little bit. As you might recall, “Interstellar” had been in the works initially as a vehicle for Steven Spielberg. When Christopher Nolan came along, he did a pretty big rewrite on his brother Jonathan Nolan‘s script, and while the latter has tended to play coy about the changes that were made, they were pretty substantial.
Over at Slashfilm, they’ve gone in depth on the tweaks made to the Spielberg version of the movie, and some of them you likely already know, such as Mackenzie Foy‘s character Murphy, originally being penned as a boy. But some of the others are more interesting, such as the mission being the first one through the wormhole, not the last ditch effort after a previous series of launches as in Nolan’s movie. But there’s another difference that particularly stood out to us (warning, spoilers ahead).
In Nolan’s film, the crew lands on the ice planet, finding a station and a sleeping Damon Ex Machina. However, in Spielberg’s version, the remnants of a Chinese mission are found, with the crew dead from radiation from the nearby black hole. The planet is surrounded by an ice shell, but is actually habitable, with oxygen in the air, and signs of alien fractal life. Lastly, instead of Evil Damon, there are villainous Chinese robots — who continued building a colony to house thousands of Chinese, who never arrived, after their government collapsed — who created a technology that could save life on Earth, but try and prevent Coop and his team from leaving the ice planet with it. It’s fascinating stuff, and the guys at Slashfilm have a plethora of details, including a zero gravity sex scene, time traveling wormholes and more. And basically, how the mission sorta fails in the Spielberg movie.
Why Nolan changed this stuff we’ll have to wait for him to explain, but the cynic in us certainly knows that in today’s studio system, where international box office receipts are more important than ever, and with China emerging as a major market, a blockbuster movie that paints them as Science Bad Guys probably wouldn’t fly. Other elements are simply messy or perhaps a bit confusing too.
Let us know what you think below, but first, here’s a 45-minute talk with Nolan on Studio 360, another 30-minute talk with the director on KCRW‘s “The Treatment“ (click to listen); a SAG Foundation chat with Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey; plus a couple of clips and featurettes.