In the scene where Cooper ejects himself into space, towards Gargantua, he quotes Newton's Third Law of Motion:

"You have to leave something behind to go forward"

We all know that that Law states:

"for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"

Well the question is that he's basically dumping fuel to get a slingshot to go into Gargantua, but instead I believe that rather than referring to technical details, Cooper is actually hitting our emotional nerves - in his last chance to save earth. I believe that that's why he said the quote as he knew he was going for an everlasting sacrifice for humanity.

What does he actually mean in the scene?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Ward - Reinstate Monica, Politank-Z, Chenmunka, Skooba, amflare Oct 30 '17 at 13:35

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I've tidied up your question, I hope I haven't deviated from what you were implying. I've also removed the last part which is actually a new question (We only accept one question per post, as it becomes 'too-broad'). – Möoz Oct 30 '17 at 4:51
  • Hmmm, the exact same (rambling) question was also posted on movies.stackexchange.com a couple of days ago. Seems to have disappeared there. – BCdotWEB Oct 30 '17 at 6:12
  • No answers. Diverse opinions. Either people don't get the scene or just they throwing judgments. – nooneperfect Oct 30 '17 at 6:29
  • Probably disappeared via deletion, it's a bad question for SE regardless of where. – Nij Oct 30 '17 at 9:11
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    You're asking a question that cannot be answered by objective expertise. "What does it actually mean?" requires subjective interpretation of a creative work - there is possibly nothing that would get more opinion-based in the entire network. – Nij Oct 30 '17 at 9:18

The writers, via the character, are using Newton's third law as a metaphor for emotional and psychological progress.

In rocketry, Newton's third law applies in the sense that the momentum of the material ejected from the back of the rocket imparts equal momentum in the opposite direction to the rocket itself. So the burned fuel is "left behind" (ejected at high speed, really) so the rocket can move forward.

The fact that Cooper paraphrases Newton so heavily (merely leaving something behind with no motion imparted to it will not actually generate forward momentum) tells us that he's not literally talking about rocketry or momentum or even physics at all. He's drawing a parallel, and suggesting that in order for a person to move forward emotionally, that person must give up emotional ties to something holding them back. In this case, he himself is what he is suggesting must be let go of emotionally, with the belief that ties to him and his life are holding the characters back.

He's also saying that he must let go of his love for life and move forward in his journey through his existence, even if it means the end of his existence. The whole notion is a good candidate for being the theme of the movie in general.

  • Thanks, you portrayed, defined very well. – nooneperfect Oct 30 '17 at 12:05

What does he actually mean in the scene?

Well, best shot is to ask the writers (J. & C. Nolan) and director (C. Nolan), because only they know what was the idea behind these lines, formed into final state in production. Though, we can do educated guess, which I think will qualify "close enough".

That is trivial, the scene is absolutely building up tension, which will give more weight for any dramatic line coming. The discussion is also a key moment of the movie about the protagonist, parting from the rest of the support characters. The use of now really dramatic, rephrased words of this physics law puts the moment a grade higher. I believe, this is the only and full purpose of using the line here, and there will not be more depth to uncover - in the aspect of intentional meanings.

However, if someone will really go forward and ask the writers, I think they will theorize up some more mystic explanation, since the question is going after what they intended in the given time and effort for this scene, and creators rarely value to have their work seen plain and simple :) and a Q&A like that is a chance to further enhance the opinion of the people.

  • Now that's constructive reply i am waiting about. Thanks – nooneperfect Oct 30 '17 at 9:09

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