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In Interstellar, Cooper goes into the black hole and into the 5th dimension. There he starts communicating with his daughter in the past, which she thought was a 'ghost' trying to communicate with her.

In the last scene as an extremely old woman she tells her dad that she knew it was him communicating, as the 'ghost'.

Why does she not ask/tell him (that she knew he was the 'ghost') that when she is sending him videos from earth in the earlier scene, when she becomes as old as he (at the time he left earth). Surely she knew by then.

The only reason I can think of is that if Coop had specifically asked her not to ask him that in the future videos as the Cooper, of that time, might have no idea of what she is talking about at that point in time.

But if this was the case then why does she say something to the effect 'I knew it was you the 'ghost' communicating with me', when she is an old woman?

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    You don't always need to write in the movie interstellar in question title if you mention the movie name in body. – A J Mar 28 '17 at 10:03
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Because she didn't know by then.

With all the things happening in parallel on Earth and at the other end of the universe you might have confused the events a little there, but the point where Murph realizes that Cooper is her ghost is when she vistits their old house for the last time, when she tries to take Tom's children to safety and finds her old watch and suddenly connects all the dots. That is when she realizes that it was always Cooper who sent the signals.

But this point is after she stopped sending messages to the Endurance crew, specifically it's after she learned about Prof. Brand's lie and gave up her dad as a consequence of that. (And while she might have a reason to send new messages after finding her watch, those messages wouldn't reach Cooper anyway, since after the visit to Mann's planet they don't check their messages anymore and are instead making a run to Edmunds' planet, including a little slingshot around Gargantua worth 51 years of time dilation.) So the most recent time she got to speak to her dad again after that is when she meets him again as a very old woman.


This timeline might help with understanding the order of events a little better:

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  • Good answer makes sense. However most people after such a revelation would try to contact their dad. She didn't know that they are not getting any messages anymore or have been otherwise busy. – ITguy Mar 28 '17 at 11:31
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    @ITguy Well, we don't know if she didn't try to contact him afterwards. All we knows is that she wouldn't have reached him anyway and it seemed unimportant for the movie. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 28 '17 at 11:33
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    Additionally, if she was shown in the movie as sending a message saying "I know the ghost was you" it would have spoiled a major plot point (Coop figuring out he was the ghost and figuring out how to communicate with her) – Mauro Mar 28 '17 at 13:11
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Interstellar is intentionally vague in several areas, and the answer to your question is never fully explained.

My interpretation of the events is an inner conflict in Murph. She is very intelligent, and Cooper is constantly encouraging her to use that intelligence. Go to college. Find a solution to the blight instead of brute-forcing it with more crops.

At the same time, Murph is a child. Children have vibrant imaginations and more easily believe things that are impossible.

Murph knows there is a possessed bookshelf. Something is different about it. Cooper even sees it too, although he is less accepting of any supernatural phenomenon. Murph tries to rationalize what she sees: random, tiny tidbits of information. Inside, her child-like desire to believe in amazing things wants to believe that the "force" causing those events must be the only person who knows her for who she is: a budding child scientist who can decipher the clues. Someone she knows: her father.

At the same time, the rational side of her knows that is impossible. This bookshelf must be acting weird because of the wind, or electromagnetic fields, or any other natural force but not her father communicating from beyond the 3rd dimension.

Why would she say "dad, this is you sending signals" before he leaves? Cooper is equally as mystified. The proof is when he is in Gargantua, looking through the bookshelf, yelling at himself to listen what future Cooper is saying. Even though (I believe) she felt it must have been him, there was no clear proof. She could not believe it because nobody else would - unless it were some sort of elaborate prank. A prank involving the coordinates of a classified NASA facility that neither of them knew about.

After Cooper leaves on his mission, Murph leaves for her career at NASA and pays the mysterious bookshelf no mind. Dr. Brand reveals himself as a fraud who sent everyone, including her father, off to die.

Eventually, she visits the bookshelf again and looks at her notebook: she says "it was you. You were my ghost." The memories come back. The patterns. Morse code. Everything clicks into place: dad fulfills his mission by giving Earth instructions for Plan A even though Dr. Brand said it was impossible. If Plan A is supposed to be impossible but she has a notebook full of scientific knowledge that can make it happen, could her inner desire for Cooper to be alive and for him to be the cause of those messages also be true? There is no plausible explanation for the communication other than someone on the other side of the wormhole to provide the information that they seeked. Who would give it to Murph rather than NASA other than Cooper? It must be him. Now she knows.

At the end when they wake Murph from her sleep and father and daughter see face to face again, she sums up all of those events. She always wanted to believe it was him, but knew that was irrational: there was no proof, and it made no sense at the time. She had no way of knowing beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt, as a child, so could not tell Cooper before he left on his mission. However, the evidence at the end was incontrovertible and proved her gut feeling was correct all along. Even then, nobody believed her. Everyone thought she was the one making the scientific breakthroughs.

Why does she not ask/tell him (that she knew he was the 'ghost') that when she is sending him videos from earth in the earlier scene, when she becomes as old as he (at the time he left earth). Surely she knew by then.

Maybe she did send messages saying she knew: but he never received them. Given the time dilation in Gargantua, it is likely that she would have sent them too late for him to receive them.

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    Well, I think the answer to this question has pretty much been explained in the film. By far not everything about Interstellar is really as vague as people make it out. However, I do think your answer actually fits much better on this related question, since you seem to be answering that much more than this one, and really well at that. On that question it would be an excellent answer, on this one it somehow misses the point, though, as the answer here is quite a bit more mundane and unrelated to your elaborate character analysis. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 28 '17 at 17:21
  • I think my analysis answers both questions, because they are similar. I explained how she did not know at first, despite wanting to believe. It took until later on to prove to herself that it was her dad all along. I went through this effort because I strongly believe the answer is more nuanced than the one you provided: her "knowing" it was Cooper is more complex than a binary yes/no. If my answer can apply to another question then great, but it explains this one as well. – user9311 Mar 28 '17 at 17:40
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    Hmm, then do you think she still did not fully believe it when she found the watch? Can you elaborate on that part a little more to adress the question a little more? If that's what you actually think, I could get behind this thing a bit more. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 28 '17 at 17:41
  • Looking at the last paragraph a little closer, it seems you are really saying that. It is unfortunate, though, that this matter is only adressed in the last few lines and the first paragraph is a little misleading. But I think I tend to get a little more what you're after with the answer now. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 28 '17 at 17:49
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    This still doesn't change, though, that she didn't have any reason to believe it to be her dad until she found the watch, since especially after Brand's lie she abandoned the thought of him saving her. Or did she just supporess it? I'm still a little undecided about this answer. It definitely has potential and it's worth to give this issue a more nuanced view, but I feel it misses the point of the question somehow and introduces a nice nuanced view to a problem that doesn't require it. It feels like wasted potential. Is there no way to make the circle to the question a little more at the end? – Napoleon Wilson Mar 28 '17 at 17:59

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