The one thing that we really appreciate about post-apocalyptic survival films is that the story is mostly driven by the characters. Their hopes, dreams, motivations, intents, and relationships become the focal point of the narrative, and the more flashy aspects recede into the background. ‘The Midnight Sky’ is one film that perfectly embodies this.
Although it is a science fiction drama, ‘The Midnight Sky’ is an emotional piece of cinema as well. George Clooney and Caoilinn Springall bring to life an uncomplicated friendship that is constantly enveloped by threats, whereas Felicity Jones turns out to be a key player in the end. So, if you’re still wrapping your head around the climax, don’t worry because we’re going to simplify a few things for you.
Is Iris Dr. Augustine’s Daughter in The Midnight Sky?
Yes, Iris is Dr. Augustine’s daughter. However, before we launch our discussion, we would like to remind you that there are actually two renditions of the same person in the end. Iris is a child, whereas Sully is her adult counterpart. This distinction is necessary because it really uncomplicates things. So, how do we actually know that Iris is his daughter?
There are many clues sprinkled throughout the movie. Firstly, we must revisit that horrifying snowstorm in which Augustine almost got trapped. He is saved when he hallucinates Jean’s face, following which he sees (the very real) Iris and the two finally make it to the Lake Hazan base. Apart from this, there is also a flashback that tells us more about the scientist. You see, Augustine has always been extremely dedicated to his career, but an unfortunate consequence of this is that he ends up ignoring Jean itself.
Jean is not okay with this, and so she decides to exit the relationship. It turns out that she later gives birth to Iris, and Augustine and his child don’t really have a bond. So in the flashback, he asks Jean if Iris knows about him. His former partner states that if he wants to get to know his own child, then he’ll have to go introduce himself to her. But Augustine never does so. (Keep this scene in mind as it does become pertinent in a few moments).
Now, in the climax, Sully and Augustine have a very beautiful and emotional conversation about what life would look like on K-23. She tells the scientist that he is the very reason that she joined NASA, and she also talks about a gift that he had given Jean, who is her mother. This makes it evident that Sully is actually Augustine’s daughter. The nail in the coffin is hit when she introduces herself as Iris. Augustine then tells her that it’s nice to finally meet her. All these motifs point to the fact that Iris/Sully is his daughter.
We know that Sully and Augustine are related and that her first name is Iris. But she is a fully grown woman who is pregnant herself. She is not the same child with whom Augustine journeys across the Arctic. This may be a point of confusion for some, but it is apparent that the younger version of Iris is simply a figment of the father’s imagination. He knows that his death is imminent as he is terminally ill so it seems as though his subconscious conjures up Iris’ image in a bid to ensure his own survival. Once he gains closure about his past, the young child is no longer seen.
Is Dr. Augustine Dead or Alive?
In all probability, Dr. Augustine is actually dead. From the beginning of the movie, we know that he is terminally ill and doesn’t have a lot of time. While going to the Lake Hazan base, he even loses his medicines, which is not a good sign. Somehow, the man pushes on and is able to make contact with Aether eventually. In the same aforementioned climactic conversation, Sully describes the conditions of the K-23 moon to him.
As she talks about how the moon would be a brilliant replacement for Earth, Augustine also imagines that he is on K-23 will the younger version of Iris (the one who accompanies him through the Arctic). Sully talks about how crisp the air is and how the sky is orange because the light is reflected off of Jupiter. The male protagonist has tears in his eyes, and it is evident that he has finally found some sort of professional and personal vindication at the same moment. He knows that his work wasn’t for nothing, and he also gets to see his daughter as an accomplished astronaut. Furthermore, he knows that she is safe and can survive on K-23.
Finally, the image of young Iris disappears from the screen, and Augustine is left standing all alone. We think this is symbolic of how he has no more questions, regrets, or guilt about his paternal duties. It’s almost as if this whole time, the scientist has been (unknowingly) holding on to dear life for this final conversation with his daughter. With nothing plaguing him anymore, we think that it is likely that Augustine dies in the end. After all, even Sully loses contact with him.