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Film / The Midnight Sky

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"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves."

The Midnight Sky is a 2020 Science Fiction drama movie released by Netflix. It was directed by George Clooney, who also stars, and was written by Mark L. Smith, adapted from the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton.

In 2049, the world has been ravaged by a great disaster known as "The Event", which has saturated the atmosphere with radiation, leaving all populated areas uninhabitable and almost all of the population dead. An exception is the scientist Dr. Augustine Lofthouse (Clooney, Ethan Peck), who has stayed behind after his research base in the Arctic, Barbeau Observatory, has been evacuated. Realizing that a space expedition is about to return to Earth with no idea that it's no longer safe, he sets out to make contact with them and warn them, accompanied by Iris, a girl he finds at the research station (Caoilinn Springall). Meanwhile, the crew of the expedition (Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir and Tiffany Boone) steers their ship, the Aether, back to Earth while navigating through their own dangers.


  • Adam and Eve Plot: By the end of the film, Sully, Ade, and their unborn child are effectively the only survivors of the Event, and are en route back to K-23 to start a new life.
  • Alien Sky: The sky of K-23 is bright orange, said to be the result of the sun being reflected off of Jupiter.
  • Artistic License – Space:
    • There is simply no way that a moon orbiting Jupiter, large enough to support Earth-like life, could have remained undiscovered until 20 Minutes into the Future. Galileo discovered the four largest ones (Ganymede, Callisto, Io, and Europa, only one of which is bigger than the Earth's Moon) in the seventeenth century, and modern science has documented dozens of moons down to the size of small cities.
    • Any moon orbiting Jupiter as closely as K-23 does would have been sterilized by the planet's radiation belt long before developing an Earth-like atmosphere.
    • Even the name "K-23" is an out of place throwback to the days of "Planet X"; modern astronomy conventions use alphanumeric designations based on how and when they were discovered, which are generally difficult to parse for lay people. Major bodies tend to receive proper names fairly quickly too, and any major moon around Jupiter would be named after descendants or lovers of Zeus/Jupiter, in line with IAU conventions.
  • Asteroid Thicket: The Aether crashes through two of these throughout the film, the second of which kills Maya.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Heavily bitter, bordering on Downer. Augustine dies while talking to Sully, a.k.a. Iris Sullivan, who never learns that he was her father. Mitchell and Sanchez are flying back to Earth, but it's unlikely that they'll survive long enough for Mitchell to find his family. The only bright point here is that Sully, Ade and their unborn child survive and head back to K-23 to live there. Augustine also mentions underground shelters on Earth that should hold some survivors, but those are temporary, effectively making Sully, Ade and their child the last surviving members of the human race.
  • Braving the Blizzard: In order to get to Lake Hazen, a weather station with a stronger satellite connection, Augustine and Iris have to journey up the Arctic, a trip that takes them through a bunch of snowstorms.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: The crew of the Aether, having been off-planet when the Event happened, are the only humans who haven't been affected by the catastrophe (though Mitchell does have family there).
  • Disappeared Dad: In the past, Augustine discovered that Jean had his daughter and lied about her pregnancy scare being negative. There's no indication that she told the daughter, Iris, about who her father was and he never introduced himself to her.
  • Eerie Arctic Research Station: Barbeau Observatory, having been left almost completely empty by the evacuation and being overtaken by the radiation.
  • Helpful Hallucination: Iris is revealed to have been a hallucination of Augustine based on his own daughter with the same name - who grew up to become Sully.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Augustine is dying of some unspecified disease that makes him cough as well as vomit and require regular blood transfusions.
  • Kill the Cutie: Maya is hit by ice debris and mortally wounded while making repairs to the Aether.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The initial end credits play over Sully and Ade working the Aether's controls, a steady shot that goes on for over four minutes until the screen fades to black and the rest of the credits roll.
  • Mercy Kill: Upon examining a crashed plane, Augustine finds an injured man inside. Unable to help him, he kills him to end the suffering.
  • Mysterious Waif: Iris. She never ever speaks (except once in a dream) and she follows Augustine around the station, after which he brings her with him to Lake Hazen.
  • No Antagonist: Since the story is driven by the Event that is destroying the world, there is no villain of the story.
  • Numbered Homeworld: You'd think the first-discovered Earth analog, especially one inside our own solar system, would have a more meaningful name than "K-23".
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Sanchez mentions that he had a daughter who died at the age of four.
  • Pregnancy Scare: In a flashback, Jean tells Augustine that she was wrong when she recently thought she was pregnant. It's unclear if she lied then and broke up with him afterwards or got pregnant with Iris at a later date and broke up after that.
  • Red Herring: Early in the film Augustine has a flashback to the evacuation and remembers that a mother couldn’t find her daughter before being reassured by someone else that her daughter was seen boarding an evacuation helicopter. He later discovers a little girl and it seems as if she was the daughter who was actually left behind by mistake. The ending reveals she is actually a hallucination based on the one memory Augustine has of seeing his young daughter.
  • Savage Wolves: Augustine encounters white wolves more than once on the way to Lake Hazen.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: In one scene, we see a world map graphic detailing the spread of the radiation caused by the Event.
  • Stress Vomit: Before her first space walk, Maya vomits copiously into a bag.
    Sanchez: That's her fourth.
    Mitchell: I mean, she's so small; where does it all keep coming from?
  • The Squad: The members of the Aether crew:
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: Augustine Lofthouse survives a world-ending cataclysm at his Arctic research station while trying to contact astronauts in space and give the coordinates he's programmed, which will allow them to reach another planet with the limited fuel aboard their ship.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: Details about the Event are scarce; Augustine hasn't been able to get much information about it other than that it was caused by some mistake, and we see that it has shrouded the planet in radioactive clouds.
  • Wham Line: One in the final conversation between Augustine and Sully:
    Sully: [...]I'm Iris.