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Chris Nolan’s 2014 sci-fi epic Interstellar is bound to become a classic. The film contains everything you want in a movie: action, excitement, wondrous sights, well-developed characters and a tight script.

But, more than that, it’s realistic! Yes, a science-fiction movie that doesn’t require massive amounts of suspension-of-disbelief.

Analyzing the Story-Structures of Famous Screenplays: Interstellar by Christopher Nolan
BACK FORWARD

In a future where the Earth is dying (due to blights on crops which create massive dust-storms, threatening to end all of human agriculture), Matthew McConaughey has to travel through a worm-hole to search for a planet that could sustain human life.

Unfortunately, once through the wormhole, it’s an endless series of set-backs and challenges that threaten to ensure the mission’s failure and the death of mankind.

Inciting Incident:

First Shot:  Dust everywhere.


Daughter interviewed in the future.


Dream about protagonist crashing a spaceship.


Daughter wakes him up. She thought he was the ghost (foreshadowing - we find out later that he is the ghost). And, he's having a recurring nightmare (character flaw).


Inciting Incident:  The Earth is now dust. Nothing grows. Earth is doomed.


Family introduced. Daughter believes in ghosts - and science! Blight is killing all the corn.


Their truck blows a tire. They see a drone and take chase. Almost drive off a cliff capturing it.


Finds out his kids can't go to college. There's no military anymore. The world has run out of food. The college administrators believe the moon landing was a hoax. Gets daughter suspended from school.


The farm equipment he reprogrammed - has all gone haywire and surrounded the farmhouse. The ghost is trying to communicate via the bookshelf.


New York Yankees are now a minor-league team playing to miniscule crowds. Sirens blare. Dust storm is coming. They hide in the farmhouse. Dust fills the room with the bookshelf - revealing a pattern in the dust! The ghost is trying to communicate! Or it's just an anomaly, the same one that caused the tractors to go nuts.


They decipher the pattern in the dust - it's coordinates. But, when they go there, they are confronted with a NORAD base and unhappy soldiers.


Introduce TARS and love-interest.


This is the most secure facility on Earth, how did you get here?


Earth is doomed - but we have a plan... Leave the Earth!


Oh, and the protagonist is the only available pilot!


Someone sent us a wormhole 10 years ago. We sent 12 craft through, one to each potentially inhabitable world. Now, we don't have enough resources to go back to all 12.


Daugheter mad at him for leaving her. Furios when she finds out that time-dilation will happen and that he doesn't know when he'll return. He leaves without saying goodbye (first turning-point).


The setting changes: Earth to Space.


The stakes get immeasurably higher: Earth's fate is now in his hands.


The protagonist and love-interest hate each other at first (what a surprise!).


Land on space-station. Two years to get to Saturn.


Black guy gets space-sick (the character-flaw he'll have to overcome). Protagonist likes the love-interest!


Daughter won't send him a message, she's still angry.


They go through the wormhole. Brand seemingly shakes hands with a non-corporeal being. The stakes are now much higher, they aren't even in our galaxy anymore.


They have to go down to the planet - but one hour = 7 years! The guy who's afraid of space is the one who's going to have to stay in space for years.


They go down to the surface of the giant ocean-planet. The love-interest slows them down and they get trapped there, losing a crew-man in the process. When they finally escape and return to their ship, it's been nearly 25 years.


Coop watches 23 years of messages. His father's dead. He has a grandson. Murph is still mad at him. They cry.


Story shifts to Earth. They've failed. The mission is doomed (false defeat - at the halfway point, practically to the second). If you've been reading this site, you know that a false-defeat at the mid-point almost always leads to a false-defeat at the second turning-point and a real-victory at the climax. Let's see if that holds true here.


Murph figures out that the director is cheating, that the equations can't be solved. There is no hope.


Back in space, we find out the the love-interest actually loves one of the Lazarus astronauts - and they hvae to choose who to save (false-defeat in the love-story)!


Anne Hathaway has her big speech about the universal power of love - and Coop dismisses it as unscientific (the character-flaw he will need to overcome to save the world - love will end up saving the day later on, presumably).


Blight has come to the farm, the neighbors have given up, all is lost. The director dies. The work was all a life. Murph thinks that her dad left them, knowing the truth. Hates him even more (false-defeat in the father-daughter storyline).


They land on the ice planet and rescue Mann. He tells them it's hospitable down below. They receive the daughter's message.


Murph discusses the 'ghost,' which she thinks is a person trying to communicate with her. The dust is killing the children. They'll have to leave the farm. Her brother refuses. She leaves anyways.


Mann shows his true colors and pushes Coop off of an ice-cliff, attempting to murder him. His planet isn't hospitable after all, he was lying!


Mann and Coop fight to the death. Mann wins and leaves Coop low on oxygen.


Murph returns to burn down all the corn and force her brother to leave the farm.


Coop is rescued at the last second. As they rush to confront Mann, there's an explosion at the compound. Romilly is killed. If Mann reaches the ship first, he'll strand them - it's a race!


Murph goes try and communicate with the 'ghost.'


Mann reaches the space-station/ship first, blows the airlock - and nearly destroys the entire place, killing himself in the process. The remaining two astronauts have to perform an impossible maneuver to dock with the space-station. They succeed! Sort of... They can't return to Earth - if they slingshot around the black-hole, they might be able to reach the final planet. But, they need to lose some weight.

Screen-Writing Contests:

Plot Recap:

Coop sacrifices himself (and TARS) and flies into the black-hole, sending Anne Hathaway and a bunch of embryos on to Earth's final hope. As his ship is torn apart, he ejects - and finds himself in an extra-dimensional tesseract?!!


TARS and Coop have been saved by the five-dimensional beings (future humans?) and placed in a 3 dimensional representation. Coop realizes that he can communicate through time with Young Murph. Sends her the needed data.T


The tesseract closes. Coop re-enters the black-hole. Sees Brand and shakes her hand.


Coop seems to get sent through the worm-hole and wakes up in hospital on Earth - no, a space-station, Cooper Station! No, the other Cooper (Murph)...


They saved TARS too!


Coop is finally reunited with his daughter - only she's old now (she's the old woman who was interviewed at the very beginning of the movie - twist!).


Brand is stranded on her planet now. Forever alone. Coop goes to rescue her. The end.

WARNING: May Contain Spoilers!

Original movie posters from the film