A while back, a friend of mine told me that Christopher Nolan's Interstellar was an allegory for the Holy Trinity. Here was his evidence:

SPOILERS... obviously. Too many to mark up.

Cooper represents different members of the Trinity at different times in the movie.

  1. The Father. He separates himself from his children and the only communication that can happen is essentially one way. His children send videos into space (prayers) knowing that a response is unlikely. At one point, Tom mentions that he doesn't even know if anyone is listening to his message.

  2. The Son. Cooper was humanity's only hope of overcoming certain death. 12 people (12 apostles) are sent ahead to spread humanity (the church). 1 of them betrays him (Judas). Cooper must decide to willingly die so that he can obtain the key for humanity's survival (atonement). He descends below all things and emerges alive (resurrection).

  3. The Holy Ghost. Murph's "ghost" communicates with her, telling her what is needed to save herself and humanity. This communication is subtle, similar to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. The information is also passed through the books in Murph's library, a symbol of teaching through the Bible.

There are a handful of other tidbits throughout the movie that add to this theory. The beings that show Cooper the way inside the tesseract, were ascended humans from the future, like angels. The theme of man's discovery of his place in the universe. The fall and reconciliation of Murph with her father. Secular textbooks denying man's destiny to ascend to the stars. The fields burning in the end. Not to mention that the whole score is done on a church organ.

All of this seems unlikely to be coincidental symbolism to me, and some Christian websites and bloggers seem to agree. Has any of this been confirmed by Nolan or anyone else involved with the production of the movie?

  • 55
    Like, literally everything can be an allegory if you look close enough.
    – Möoz
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 22:32
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    as to the score - that's a direct homage to the 2001: A Space Odyssey film score, not church music
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 22:51
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    @NKCampbell - Cooper was betrayed by Dr Mann who tried to kill him with a Glasgow kiss.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 22:52
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    @TheMathemagician - It’s not necessarily that this whole theory is right, merely that there are bits of random symbolism thrown in. Like Harry Potter, for example.
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 10:43
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    This would definitely fit with the bold "Love is the answer and most powerful thing in the universe, which can transcend time" mcguffin in Interstellar; the Bible talks about 'faith, hope, and love' with love being the greatest.
    – TylerH
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 13:45

1 Answer 1


Nolan says that he hasn't (intentionally) included a religious subtext to the film, but that some of the imagery, and definitely the soundtrack are inspired by "religiosity" in general.

“Yeah, sorry about that…,” Nolan smiled, knowing Del Toro was referring to his painful attempts to get his dream project off the ground. Yet Nolan was more than happy to oblige when it came to speaking about the influences on the film, acknowledging how ideas will often build upon each other as the process of making one of his films plays out. At first, that brought to mind his initial discussions with composer Hans Zimmer that began with the use of a pipe organ as the baseline for “Interstellar”‘s score, talking about ideas of religiosity and though Nolan insisted, “It’s not a religious movie, aesthetically speaking, the architecture of cathedrals – the stained glass windows, the sound of the organ, these represent man’s most successful attempts to communicate the metaphysical, what might be beyond our reality.”

Christopher Nolan’s Five Unexpected Inspirations for “Interstellar”

and uses similar language on the Blu-ray Director's Commentary

“I wanted him [Zimmer] to use the church organ. I also made the case very strongly for some feeling of religiosity to it, even though the film isn’t religious, but that the organ, the architecture, cathedrals and all the rest, they represent mankind’s attempt to portray the mystical or the metaphysical, what’s beyond us, beyond the realm of the everyday.”

That being said, having a main character whose initials are JC, who literally walks on water and redeems humanity after spending time in the wilderness with 12 Lazarus pilots is certainly going to be laid open to accusations that religion may have played a quite considerable part in his thought process.

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    @Adamant: The name "Lazarus" was picked (in-universe) specifically because it was in reference to the mission's objective. It's not an out-of-universe nod, it's an in-universe one. JC, on the other hand, can only really be an out-of-universe nod (if it is, which I doubt)
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 7:37
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    @Flater - He (Nolan) could easily have chosen a different non-religious name for the mission. Rip Van Winkle springs to mind.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 7:43
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    @Flater - I mean, it’s possible for something to make a great deal of sense in-universe, and out of universe still be a rather obvious analogy.
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 7:49
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    @Valorum: "Why didn't they pick another suitable name?" is an endless (and pointless) discussion. It makes more than enough sense that the reference was an in-universe decision. Just because someone in-universe made a decision based on religion (culture, really) does not automatically make the movie a religious allegory. We don't even know which Lazarus is being referred. The Lazarus who was resurrected by Jesus (as in humanity's resurgence when they find a new planet), or the Lazarus of the rich man parable, as an analogy to modern humans not listening to the warnings of climate change.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 7:51
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    @Peter No need, there are physics to thank for how it's possible, plus the fact that in the movie his feet and parts of his legs were below the water.
    – TylerH
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 15:40

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