The Midnight Sky: What was the event and what happened to Earth?

The Midnight Sky on Netflix
The Midnight Sky is a new sci-fi movie starring George Clooney. Pic credit: Netflix

The Midnight Sky is a new sci-fi drama film that premiered on Netflix on December 23 after a limited theatrical release earlier on December 11.

The film, directed by George Clooney, also stars Clooney (as Augustine Lofthouse), alongside Felicity Jones (Sully), David Oyelowo (Commander Adewole), Tiffany Boone (Maya), Kyle Chandler (Mitchell), Caoilinn Springall (Iris), and Sophie Rundle (Jean Sullivan).

The Midnight Sky is based on Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel Good Morning, Midnight, published in 2016.

What is The Midnight Sky About?

Set in the year 2049, The Midnight Sky follows the scientist Augustine Lofthouse who specializes in searching for habitable planets.

After surviving a mysterious apocalyptic event that wipes out most of Earth’s people, he tries to contact the crew of the spacecraft Aether who were returning to Earth after completing their mission to Jupiter’s newly-discovered moon K-23.

Augustine wanted to warn them about the dangerous conditions on Earth but his communication equipment could not immediately reach them.

The story follows Augustine’s effort from his Artic base to stop the crew from returning to Earth to face the dangerous condition on the planet.

According to Netflix’s official tagline for the film:

“In the aftermath of a global catastrophe, a lone scientist in the Arctic races to contact a crew of astronauts with a warning not to return to Earth.”

Since the film dropped on Netflix last week, many viewers have been wondering about the nature of the cataclysm that wiped out most of Earth’s population.

If you’ve also been wondering, here is what you need to know.

What happened to Earth?

The film does not reveal the exact nature of the event that caused the global catastrophe. Brooks-Dalton’s book also left the nature of the cataclysm a mystery.

However, viewers get tentative hints about the nature of the event in multiple scenes of the movie.

We learn that the event was global and that it affected all nations of the Earth, including China, Russia, and India.

After Augustine contacted the crew aboard Aether, he explained that  he did not know all the details about what happened but he knew it was a “mistake.”

“I’m afraid we didn’t do a very good job looking after the place while you were away,” Augustine told Sully.

Augustine’s statement that the event “started with a mistake” led many viewers to conclude that the incident was likely a man-made disaster and not a natural disaster, such as a volcanic eruption or an asteroid strike.

Augustine looked at data about air quality and rising radiation levels in the surrounding area. This suggests that the incident involved deadly radiation levels from an unspecified source.

Later, when the Aether crew got their first view of Earth, they saw huge clouds of brown smoke swirling and rising over the planet.

When Sully asked whether Augustine knew of a safe entry point for their spacecraft, Augustine told her it was not safe to return to Earth because “all survivable areas are underground.”

Sully’s comment that “there’s nothing left for us down there” revealed that the destruction to Earth was total.

What was the nature of the event?

We aren’t told what caused the global catastrophe or the nature of the event.

However, suggestions that the event was a nuclear disaster are based on the reference to deadly radiation levels spreading across the globe. Thus, it could have been due to a nuclear accident or a purposely triggered nuclear weapon.

But due to the fact that the film is set in the future, the source of the radiation could also have been linked to a new type of power generation technology or military technology.

The Midnight Sky is streaming on Netflix.

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Ken Marks
Ken Marks
1 year ago

Disappointing about the event. Keeping it a secret did not enhance the quality of the film in my point of view. Spoiler Alert: the very end of the movie, which suggests that the child with Clooney’s character was a figment of his imagination, absolutely failed to work on so many levels it was laughable. That kind of cheap-shot writing spoiled the movie for me. Until then, I thought the work was pretty good.

It reminds me of the first release of the movie “The Book of Eli” with Denzel Washington, which reveals at the very end that his character is blind. Given all the things he had done during the movie that would have been impossible for a blind man —like killing a distant stealthy mountain cat with a bow and arrow in the very first scene sequence or spotting a shack in the distance to which he goes for shelter—it seemed like something an utterly stupid screen writer threw in at the last minute. The movie producers must have gotten so many raspberries from the blogosphere that they revised the ending and re-released the movie.