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Headscratchers: Moon
  • While the movie itself is fairly understandable, it bugs me how the clones degenerate at a pace roughly equal to the Original Sam's contract. If you're the head of a giant corporation, what would you rather have: The clones still generally thriving when they step into the Nuke-A-Clone, or one that is practically falling apart on the way to it? Sure, you could say that Gerty would clean up the mess in the event that a clone didn't quite reach the Nuke-A-Clone, but that is more work than you would need. Set the lifespan at around 4 or 5 years, fry them early, and you don't have to worry about it.
    • It's likely that the clones' lifespan is an unavoidable side-effect of the process that creates them, and the fact that it's the same as the contract length is just a coincidence. It makes much more sense to let the clones live longer, but it's possible that the Clone Degeneration can't be controlled.
      • It could also be that Sam's food supply has a total iron deficiency after a certain point. Pallor, fatigue, irritability, hair loss, weakness, and grooved nails are all symptoms of iron deficiency, and all are displayed in the movie. Now, beans are a source of iron, which are shown being consumed, but we have no evidence that the beans were grown in actual soil or given any iron to provide to Sam.
    • Sam complains that three years is too long to be on the Moon, and he's clearly beginning to suffer from being there so long, even before the Clone Degeneration really sets in. It's likely that if they tried to make the clones work any longer they'd go on strike and demand to be sent home. Sending "rescue" teams in to deal with rebellious clones is unnecessarily complicated and expensive compared to keeping their "contracts" short enough to keep them happy.
      • I figured that the shortened lifespan was built in as a failsafe in case something went wrong; it's not perfect, but given that it's a fairly isolated base, it's better than nothing. As for their self-destructing, IIRC, Sam I didn't start to fall apart until sometime after his three-year contract should have been up anyway. Had things run the way they were supposed to, Sam wouldn't have known any different, or maybe he would have just figured he'd caught the sniffles or something if it was early enough. (From where? Who knows?)
      • Just as a sidenote, one of the past Sams has stated in his last recording that "[his] hair is starting to fall out".
      • He could have supposed it was from stress, if not anything else.
    • Or maybe it's easier to make a contract fit the clone degeneration rather than the other way around?
      • Very likely, as Sarang only has recordings from his family that last for that span of time.
    • perhaps the clones are made to degenerate so that they will wish to go home to Earth and recover, and thus voluntarily get in the tube. GERTY talks about how they have to test the clones for mental stability, and Word of God states that the 3-year term of the contract was decided as the perfect amount of time someone would be willing to work on the moon. So if the contract period is meant to motivate clones that come out less happy with the work they're doing, perhaps the degeneration stops clones who are only happy to stick around, which I guess just threatens the whole ritualized process they've set up. And maybe they somehow figured out that after three years of work, a clone is more likely to start exploring more and may find out the whole clone scheme.
    • The clones have Sam's memories, including the three year contract. The lifespan couldn't be longer while still keeping the clones in the dark.
    • Or maybe being stuck in a depressurized rover out in space for so long accelerated Sam 1's Clone Degeneration.

  • Secondly, after the crash, why did Gerty give New Sam the memories of those events? Give the new clone memories that there was always one car, one suit, and that he just started his contract. By somehow downloading the most recent memories from Old Sam to New Sam, it eventually causes the plot of the movie to happen because New Sam has a reason to go out there.
    • Possibly Gerty doesn't understand the concept of lying. When Sam asks about the clone Gerty changes the subject, but whenever he's asked a direct question he can't wriggle out of, Gerty tells the truth. It's possible that none of the clones had ever had a serious accident, so Gerty had never learned that he needed to hide the truth.
      • Or Gerty only has one set of memories to implant. Not a huge stretch if we figure that there were never supposed to be two Sams running around. Given that Sams I and II are actually VI and VII or something like that, the system has been running fine for over a decade, so we can forgive the company for not planning for that contingency.
    • The idea is that each clone wakes up thinking that he has been living and working on the moon for some time. "The accident" is given as the reason they don't remember the last few days' specifics.
      • This is correct. All of the clones, when woken up, are told that they had been in a crash. Sam 6 did not receive any memories from Sam 5; Sam 6 only leaves the base because there's TWO stalled harvesters and he wanted to check on the second one.

  • Sam spends three years on the Moon, working on his little model village, and he never notices that someone had started it before he got there? If each clone woke up thinking they were just starting a three year contract, didn't any of them wonder who made the model?
    • He does realise that someone else started it before him- I think the point is that he knew, but it had never connected what that might imply.
    • Each clone doesn't wake up thinking he has just begun his contract. Old Sam doesn't say that he someone else had done the model - just that he only recalls doing specific parts. Any discrepancies in the Sams' memories are supposed to be due to the amnesia caused by the "accidents."
    • To be fair, 'Sam' is not necessarily under the impression that he is the first guy to be up there under a three year contract, he is most likely under the impression that there have been a bunch of guys before him, as he mentions "it's not fair to the next guy" though he should have noticed that it was his old neighborhood I suppose.
    • Or each clone is awoken much like the second was on screen. Gerty tells Sam that he's had an accident and suffered amnesia, so he assumes he had forgotten building some of the town... which starts to wear thin after 90% of it was built, counting for several years worth of effort.
    • Gerty can erase the smiley faces from the bathroom wall; why can't he "reset" the village too? Maybe the original Sam expressed an interest in woodworking, so the company figured a good way to pacify the clones would be to keep wood on hand (no, not like that) so the clones could keep up that hobby.
      • Though the double entendre the previous troper makes probably is also true.

Helium 3, while a real isotope, isn't used in fusion. It's closer to a byproduct of fusion. They should instead be mining deuterium.
  • Actually, the director did his homework and found that helium-3 could in fact be used as a clean fuel source. The science is waaaaaaaay beyond me, but in any case I don't remember the movie ever saying they were using it for fusion.
    • Fusing helium-3 is actually the most desired reaction for a fusion energy source due to the reaction being aneutronic, meaning that it produces no free neutrons and therefore very little radiological contamination. The movie's whole premise is seriously being considered.
  • Helium-3 is in fact used in fusion: the last possible element that is involved in fusion is iron. Our sun is still doing hydrogen fusion, but will collapse in on itself at some point and then begin helium fusion.
    • Helium-3 fusion is actually a step in the proton-proton process the Sun uses to fuse hydrogen.
  • I know the base itself was built using materials on the moon, but unless Sarang has some type of Star Trek-esque replicator on board, basic supplies would still have to be sent from Earth (air, food, water, etc.), which means that there would have to be regular shipments to the base (unless EVERYTHING was shipped at once, which seems ungodly expensive). Plus, there must be regular (or at least semi-regular) shipments of Helium 3 sent back to Earth. Unless every shipment's vehicle is built from scratch again (somewhat more plausible, as Sarang itself was built using material harvested from the moon), the vehicle would need to return to the moon (possibly carrying the aforementioned supplies). So why does the corporation deem it more cost effective to send multiple clones of the same person, when there has to be shipments from Earth sent on at least a semi-regular basis, rather than just a new guy every X number of years?
    • To get the plot going? In all seriousness, I agree that it seems ridiculous to leave all that evidence around. The only thing I can think of that makes even a little bit of sense is that, in space travel, you have to account for every last bit of fuel you expend, and sending up a person along with the supplies would just be an extra fuel expenditure. Building storage space on-site might be more expensive in the short term, but in the long run it might be cheaper. It might also be a good idea to keep them handy so that, if one of the clones dies unexpectedly, you can just boot up another one instead of leaving the base unmanned for the three days it would take to get another one from Earth.
    • Should also be noted that to design a ship which can transport live humans is much more expensive than designing one which just transports food and other supplies, which don't have the same demands as a living being like air.
    • Perhaps at one point they had different people every 3 years, but word got around the it was a horrible decision and fewer candidates were volunteering. So instead of finding another solution, the company took the last person and made copies instead of retraining and having to convince other people to sign up.
      • Water and air can be derived from available material (ice) on the Moon itself. Presumably there's some very efficient recycling / hydroponics systems at work on the base as well. Also, it's not just the cost of delivering new staff to the base: it's the cost of training them, and the uncertainty of any given series of Moon employees. If the company knew that the original Sam could make it through his three year contract, then they had a pretty good expectation that his clones would, too.
      • Also they wouldn't have to pay the clones since presumably the money is going into an account back on earth. So not only are they murderers they're also violating labor laws.

How come that the two Sams we see in the movie are the fifth and sixth clone (as stated in the Which Me? entry on the main page)?
  • After his contract ends, Original Sam returns to Earth and live with his wife and child, who was then about 1 year old. 15 years later, when Clone 5 (who's near the end of his 3-year "contract") calls the Bell resident, he comes in contact with a 15-year old Eve. Makes sense?
  • Here's my logic: It's pretty unlikely that Lunar Industries had Tess record new messages for the clones, so they're probably using the messages she sent to Original Sam. Now, judging by the fact that at the end of Sam 1's three year contract, Eve is fifteen years old, and judging by the message Sam 1 was watching at the film's beginning, Original Sam must've been on the Moon from when Eve was a couple of months old until she was three. Now count with me: First clone, 3 to 6 years; second clone, 6 to 9; third clone, 9 to 12; and finally, fourth clone, 12 to 15. We're missing a clone here, man.
    • Yeah, I think that's an error. When the two Sams see all the clones in the basement, there are 7 pods with red lines, implying that they have been released. That means to me that Sam1 is really Sam6 and Sam2 is Sam7.
    • Two things. 1)Remember the tests Gerty was running. Perhaps one of the earlier clones failed? and 2) It's possible that Original!Sam was never sent to the station anyway.
    • Original Sam must have been sometime in the station. To whom would Tess have sent all those recorded messages otherwise? I think there are several possible answers for the discrepancy in numbers. Maybe Original Sam is counted as Sam 1. Maybe a couple of the clones died in accidents with only half their contracts complete. Maybe one of the clones was defective and was rejected from the beginning.
      • They got Original Sam's memories, right? So I bet they offered him the job, recorded his memories under the guise of some other procedure, then offered him the real deal: he allows them use his clones with his memories, and periodically over the next few years he leaves the room while his wife puts together a few video messages which are then reused for each ensuing clone, and they give him a steady paycheck for doing nothing. Easy money, and he doesn't even have to worry about having twins running around on Earth since they self-destruct on the moon. Of course, that does make it something of a Moral Event Horizon for Original Sam.
      • No doubt they paid him a great deal of money to keep quiet — and there was probably a clause in his contract (that he didn't notice) threatening expensive litigation if he tried to blow the whistle anyway.
    • The fourth clone is Sam 5 because Original Sam is Sam 1. Isn't that obvious?
      • No. Original Sam has to be in on it. When Sam5 accesses the records, he witnesses the destruction of 4 full contract Sams. Original Sam was never on the moon. He sat comfortably at home while his wife recorded fake messages for Sam 1, which were then replayed for the ensuing clones while the family got royalty checks. That is the only way the math checks out.
      • There's no evidence Original Sam is that kind of evil douchebag. From what we see of the Sams, they're more or less moral people. Sam 2 wanted to send Sam 1 down to Earth, knowing he might be killed or even if not, never get the chance to 'return' to Earth. One of the clones may have started deteriorating early and had his term cut short. Remember that the clones don't actually stay three years. Sam 2 had been there 'a week' when he was woken up.
      • As far as I can tell, each clone of Sam has memories that are accurate right up to the "rover crash" that serves as a cutoff point. For that to happen, they would have had to bring the original Sam up moonside to do his work for at least a few weeks, then fake the crash and grab his memories at that point — there's nothing to suggest they can build entirely new memories out of whole cloth... From what I've been given to understand about Word of God on the subject, the original Sam did actually finish out his three-year contract. Maybe it's just sloppy mathematics on the part of the writer.
    • Gerty explains that each clone is tested after awakening, because imperfections in the cloning process might lead to mental instability. One of the clones might have been found defective and scrapped immediately.

Why it isn`t a delay in the live comunication with earth?
  • The Moon is roughly one second-light away from earth, so in a conversation between earth and moon what you say needs one second to reach its destination and the answer needs another second to reach you again, this is, you should notice a two seconds delay in every exchange between interlocutors. But in the two occasions we see live conversations in the movie (GERTY with the executives and Sam 1 with Eve) people answers immediately to one another. I guess they did this to make the conversations more fluid for the viewer benefit, but in a movie like this that aims for acurancy, i think viewers wouln't have minded a little delay in two short conversations.
    • Interestingly enough, when Sam 2 sees the recording of the conversation, it's even more shortened than the original one, thus supporting the above hypothesis...

Two or three things:
  • This one really, really tripped me up: Gravity. They spent a lot getting the background stuff to be factual. They managed to get Moon gravity when he was outside. This troper, and the very least, saw earth gravity in the base. Did I see, wrong?
    • Seems to be Earth gravity inside the base. Perhaps there is? But look again at the punching bag: it swings for much longer than it should.
      • Yeah, and perhaps the ping pong ball is just weighted. No, more likely that the base has Earth gravity somehow, and they couldn't deal with it on a cheap 5 million dollar budget.
    • I presume the viewer is supposed to self-handwave artificial gravity as something that exists in the future.

Gerty. (one) Gerty is a robot. Programmed to help work the base, programmed to watch the clones. Why didn't they wipe Gerty every time there was a new clone? Gerty has no need for memories of previous clones — and further, no need to know the password necessary to unlock the videologs. (Just giving him/her/it access to those for only itself? Or, just ask for permission form base! Why were those even kept?) (two) The video conversation really bugged me. WHY?!? Why are they playing the video to the robot, instead of just Gerty jacking in to some plug? Do they want to get seen?
  • Why keep the evidence? Because that's what people do...
  • Gertie needs the password and evidence for the Rescue Team, or anyone not-Sam who comes up there.

The connection itself — they physically blocked the signal, investing time and resources into setting up huge towers on the moon, as opposed to, say, putting two lines of code in there to just not even try and instead just say "No signal, sorry". And, you could make it password-bypass-able if you really need the sweet little chats with Gerty.
  • Indeed. Oh well.
    • In case Sam ever got bored and started going over the equipment or computer code, he wouldn't find any disconnected wires or suspicious code. As far as anyone on the base could tell, everything is functioning normally.
    • Yeah, that's what I figured while I was watching the movie. I'd eventually start trying some coding, or something.

Why wasn't there some override on the rovers? They don't need to go any farther than the rovers. They have no reason to be completely autonomous, nor for anything in the base not to, in an emergency, be controllable from Earth. To sum it up: the company ''deserved'' to be busted. Direct remote control wouldn't work 'cause of the comms delay.
  • It's cheaper to keep making Sams than to make robots. If Sam breaks, new Sam. If the robot breaks, there's no way to replace it.
    • Except just about all the base looks to be fairly autonomous already. There's very little that it seems Gerty couldn't do on his own. Is there really a lot Sam can do that a cheap robot can't?
    • It looks like when everything is running smoothly, it's fairly autonomous. You'll still need someone to go out there and collect the full H3 tanks or fix something that is broken.
  • The far side of the Moon is the most radio-quiet place in the solar system. There is no way to contact the base from Earth in order to control stuff because there's no line-of-sight.
  • Sorry, one more: Sam should have died on the way back. Those transports were made to carry a specific amount of a specific thing. The weight was calculated, the fuel needed, the acceleration manageable.. No way a human could survive the acceleration forces. Or, that Sam would be exactly the same mass as the Helium-three, as well as the same center of mass. Sam should have gotten squashed, shot past Earth, and thrown into the sun.
    • Average G-force experienced by an astronaut on liftoff from Earth: 3Gs. Going back would be less. It's also somewhat difficult to miss Earth, you'll notice. Sam vs Helium-3 containers, on the Moon, probably didn't constitute a huge difference, and once away from the Moon, the mass difference doesn't matter.

Where to begin?
  • The big, bad corporation holds a monopoly over most of the planet's power generation. Why would they take such a major risk and invest so heavily into a highly controversial, probably illegal, unreliable technology just to avoid having to hire and train personnel? Could they really not find or trust anyone with the appropriate skillset who's willing to go to the god damned moon? The multitudes of people who designed, constructed and maintain the extensive facility, not to mention the researchers who somehow solved the nontrivial problem of human cloning ... none of them want to speak up about any of it, huh?
    • They do have advanced memory-manipulation technology, and we don't know how many people are in on it. Most of the base was built on the moon itself, probably autonomously. I debunk conspiracies in my spare time, so I know that it's still unlikely, just a bit less than you'd think. And remember, once they have the base set up, the only real cost is the shuttles back to earth. They have enough Sams for over a hundred years, if nothing went wrong. And as we saw, it did fail.

Why exactly bother with the communications-scrambling antenna? If they're willing to go to the lengths to create an accurate simulation of this man's wife, surely they could have crippled all communications equipment directly (especially in the harvesters, what the hell) to prevent ... well, exactly what happens in the movie.
  • Sam might be able to just fix or examine said equipment. If he thinks the satellite is down, there's nothing he can do about it. As far as we know, those weren't simulations of Tess, just actual, carefully edited messages to Sam 1.
  • Why not just disable the satellite? Presumably the scene where Central talked to GERTY involved shutting down the jammers remotely so they could even get a live link. Wouldn't it be simpler just to shut down the satellite's communications system? It'd still leave nothing for the Sams to 'repair'.

The whole escape plot would have been foiled easily by a few additional cameras and some more remote monitoring. Who the hell's running this company anyway, a Bond villain?
  • More cameras would've made Sam suspicious. The second Sam 2/6 figured something was up, he immediately started clawing at the walls. And they do have remote monitoring: they have Gertie. It's just that Gertie cares more about Sam than the company.
  • Also the whole point of the base is that it runs by itself. The company is clearly all about margins so don't want to fork out the money to keep a watch on Sam(besides GERTY)

Why do tropers keep saying GERTY is a good robot, when GERTY did absolutely nothing to help the previous Sams to get off the moon?
  • GERTY is a robot. Judging a robot, pre-programmed and with limited sentience, is ridiculous. When asked why he told Sam about the clones, he answered "Helping you is what I do." (also note how often he uses the word "help" in conversations. He helped clone 5 and 6 because they explicitly asked him for help. The previous clones never knew the truth, so they never tried to find out more, to escape or even question GERTY about the truth. If they had, GERTY would have helped.

Why did GERTY show that crying emoticon? Sam wasn't looking at him at the time. did he honestly feel sorry for him?
  • Have you ever had a conversation with a Chat Bot? The technology to tell when someone is saying sad things exists now, much less in the future. Besides, even with chat bots, the bot can't hear you crying. From what i remember, Sam was explicitly crying in the scene, which GERTY 'hears' and responds with said crying GIF. Its fairly easy to imagine, from how GERTY is programmed, he eventually supersedes even his intended programming (or follows it to a T, depending on your view of how 'intelligent' GERTY's AI is.) by helping Sam 5 and Sam 6 in the first place. Such interactions had to be developed to keep Sam from going mad from the isolation.
Monty Python's Life of BrianHeadscratchers/FilmMoonrise Kingdom

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