Spoiler Talk: Is the Ending of 'Source Code' Open to Interpretation?

Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code
Photo: Summit Entertainment

Frequent reader and commenter "Ian" asked in yesterday's Friday box-office report that I post something discussing the ending to this weekend's new release Source Code. He said he'd read a few different interpretations and thought it would make for good discussion. This caught me entirely by surprise. Primarily because I didn't think there was anything to interpret.

Loving the prospect of a good discussion and curious to see what people were saying, I took to the web, genuinely interested in reading what possibilities I was overlooking.

However, before we dig into any interpretations let's remind ourselves of what we're discussing. Obviously, if you haven't seen the film yet you're entering massive spoiler territory. I'm also not going to explain the film (the clip to the right may help if you need assistance there). That said, let's get to it, and if I'm a bit off on something, please excuse me, I saw the film over two weeks ago.

At the end of Source Code Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers the bomber's identity, relays the information and the bomber is caught before he can detonate a bomb in the middle of Chicago. From here his character convinces Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) to send him into the "Source Code" one last time in an attempt to save the passengers on the train by disarming the bomb, capturing the bomber and turning him into the authorities.

Colter wants to do this despite the fact "Source Code" creator Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright) has told him it's a futile effort as he's only got the last eight minutes of Sean Fentress's life to live since the world, as far as Fentress was concerned, ended when the bomb originally exploded and Fentress died. Based on that theory, there's nothing Colter can do but relive the eight minutes all over again, save the train or not, and return back to the film's narrative reality after eight minutes.

Despite his request being denied by Rutledge, Colleen goes against orders and sends Colter back one last time. This time he disarms the bomb, captures the bomber and -- this is important -- sends Colleen a text message letting her know a crisis has been averted and the "Source Code" works.

As the eight minutes allotted him end time appears to freeze. At the same time Colleen, in the film's narrative reality, terminates Colter's life. The film then switches back to Colter in the "Source Code" where time resumes, he gets off the train with Christina (Michelle Monaghan) and they live happily ever after.

The scene is set... Let's discuss...

Looking around the Internet I found Christopher Campbell's interpretation of the ending over at indieWire. He believes that when Colter's eight minutes are up "this is when [Colter] would leap out of Sean’s body and return to his own body" back at the lab and everything we see from that moment on is his "heaven" for Colter. He also believes Sean Fentress is still alive and is adamant in saying Colter is "not in two places at once."

Next, I have one more piece to add to the discussion as Christy Lemire (co-host of Ebert Presents at the Movies), Matt Atchity (editor-in-chief of Rottentomatoes.com) and Ben Mankiewicz (host of Turner Classic Movies) discuss the ending. You can watch that to the right and I'll bring it up shortly.

I have to admit, I was surprised by both of these discussions. I, perhaps naively, thought the film was 100% straight-forward and obvious. Duncan Jones and I even discussed it at length in my interview and to put it simply, he says quite clearly, "[T]echnically it's a parallel reality film."

Let me explain it as I see it...

You see, each time Colter goes back into the "Source Code" he's creating a new parallel reality. The first seven times in, he dies as the infographic to the right (click to enlarge) suggests. So essentially, what Dr. Rutledge has created is a method of time travel, but a method of time travel that not only sends its user back in time, but creates a new parallel reality that the user now inhabits and will, theoretically, continue on with or without said user.

So, when Colter goes back for a final time and stops the bomber and saves the train it is here where he will now live on forever, his consciousness in the body of Sean Fentress in a new alternate reality. Meanwhile, back in the narrative reality Sean, Christina and everyone else on the train are still dead, but the bomber is captured, the "Source Code" is proven to work and Colleen terminates Colter's comatose life.

So, when Christopher from indieWire says Colter was "not in two places at once" I see it differently. Colter isn't in one or two places, he's in several places at once. Colter's physical body not only exists in the narrative reality, but in every single parallel reality created by the "Source Code".

As reason would have it, Colter's consciousness exists in each parallel reality as well. The only place where we know neither his physical body or consciousness exists is in the film's narrative reality where Colleen ends what's left of his life.

To answer Christy Lemire's question from the video above where she wonders what happened to Sean, the answer is simple... he's dead. Sean (or his body, depending on how you want to interpret it) dies in Colter's first seven trips into the "Source Code" and he's already dead in the film's narrative reality. In the final trip Sean's body survives, but it's occupied by Colter's consciousness.

Anish Kapor "Cloud Gate" sculpture as seen in Source Code
Photo: Summit Entertainment

Now I know that's a lot of rambling on my part. I read and re-read it several times, hoping it was somewhat understandable. But if not, perhaps this quick summation as Jones described it in our interview will help:

[T]echnically it's a parallel reality film, but it is also time travel. It's parallel reality, but the reality we're going to, we're going to a past event in that parallel reality. We're in this world, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright are sending him to what they think is the last eight minutes of someone's life, captured in a victim's brain state, in Shawn Fentress's brain state, but what they're actually doing -- by the end of the film -- is they're accessing a parallel reality, but still having to travel backwards in it because they're having to go to this event on the train. Then he is able to create this new reality every time he gets sent to a new "Source Code."

After that, if you still want more evidence to support how I see it, there are two things that give even further clarification.

The first is something Jones and I talked about briefly, but I didn't include in the interview. When you watch the movie again you'll notice during the opening credits when the words "Source Code" show up, a line is drawn across the bottom of the screen and as it continues a second line diverts off into a tangent, symbolizing the alternate reality. This was just a sort of second-time around clue Jones included in the film for those that watch it again.

Second is the text message. The text Colter sends is received in the final alternate reality and received by an alternate Colleen. It tells her the "Source Code" works and a crisis was averted. Shortly thereafter you hear Rutledge in his office say, "One day a crisis will come and the 'Source Code' will have its day in the sun." He says this because in this reality -- the parallel reality where Colter stopped the first bomb from going off -- the "Source Code" was never used. It is here Colter's consciousness exists in two places. His consciousness resides in the body of Fentress as well as in his body in the lab, waiting until a crisis comes along and the "Source Code" program can be used for the "first" time.

This "two consciousnesses in one place" aspect is certainly something I'm sure many will debate. However, it is clear Colter's consciousness still resides in Fentress's body as he and Christina visit the "Cloud Gate" sculpture and while we see Colter while they're walking and talking, Colter sees Sean's face reflected in the sculpture. I'm sure some will theorize this creates some world-ending paradox, but as far as the film is concerned it seems to work just fine.

Whew! That took a lot longer than I thought it would, and now for you to add your thoughts. Do you see it differently?

The great thing about movies is that it doesn't matter what I think or what the director or screenwriter thinks. All that matters is that your interpretation works for you, and honestly, I am more interested in reading alternate interpretations for Source Code than I was for Inception. So hit me with it.

  • Poke

    Pretty much exactly my thoughts. I felt as if the events in the film could be merely one source code event in a series of potentially infinite, that could have already happened and will continue to. It seems to me that vera farmiga could have received the text message from colter before the events of the film started. This simple text message is the trigger which allows colter to continue existing in all the parallel worlds, as farmiga will continually decide to set his conscious free. One thing i cant remember...did farmiga tell colter ' everything is going to be ok' in the film? This would signify that this source code event in the film isnt the first.

    One afterthought..if colter continues, with each source code event, to delay the 'first' use of source code, then eventually the project would become pointless from disuse and be shutdown in one of the realities, thereby ending colter's transferral. This seems logical to assume.

    • Chirurgie

      Yep, Goodwin def tells Colter earlier in the movie that 'everything is going to be ok' ie the original movie setting itself is an alternate reality, one previously saved by the same Jake Coulter, which remains unactivated in 'this movie reality' till the start.

      Having Colter see Sean's face reflected in "Cloud Gate" sculpture is fine as as far as everyone (but the audience) is concerned, only Sean exist in that body (mind now controlled fully by Colter).

      What bugs me is the "Cloud Gate" sculpture (and Christina reflected in it) clearly features in Colter's mind earlier in the movie each time he is 'brought back' from train crash. So was he seeing the possible alternate futures?

      • Mike

        When does Goodwin say "everything is going to be ok"?

    • Charles

      I really enjoyed this movie; it is a hell of a movie Mr.Jones…..
      This is my interpretation of the movie,
      1) ok! first things first, the source code indeed creates alternate realities/parallel universe…....here is the proof, in the scene where Stevens finds the bomber and get shot, the time duration inside the source code exceeds 8 minutes, 8.34 minutes to be precise, this is a clear indication that source code indeed creates alternate reality….....now if u think it is a major plot hole coz Goodwin and Rutledge should have known if he is more than 8 minutes in source code. But in other sense, they both deliberately misinformed Stevens that it is only valid for 8 minutes to prevent Stevens from doing anything irrelevant to the mission. This proves that the only way Stevens will come back to the castle is that he have to die..
      2) At the end, when the scene is frozen, it is a psychological thing. Stevens think the source code will exists only 8 minutes, the frozen scene was just a manifestation of Stevens just like being in a capsule. But Stevens didn’t experience the same when he get shot which is clearly exceeds 8 minutes, this is coz his concentration was completely on finding the bomber and he didn’t notice the time, hence it is purely psychological.
      3) As for the ending is concerned, it is not a paradox, Stevens caught the bomber, make everyone happy in the train, saved the explosions, lived happily ever after(sort of). Stevens lives in Sean’s body with his consciousness and also he is also awaiting his first source code mission in beleaguered castle. Yes, Stevens living with two consciousness in the same world just like back to the future movie.
      4) In the meantime, they have created several parallel universe in which every time thousands of people died coz of train and Chicago explosions, except for the last time. The worst part is, in every parallel universe created, Stevens will be send in the source code to create several parallel universe again….......

  • Rashad

    I really don't like the alternate reality aspect. I viewed the ending that when there was that time freeze in Source Code when Farmiga pulls the plug on Jake, he dies. Then everything after that was part of Jake's "afterglow," as Wright used that example, post-death. The brain still has activity after dying, so I accepted that and was ready for the end, but then came the text and the alternate reality. I didn't like that at all. It felt a bit tacked on, and the whole ending was a bit more protracted than I thought it should have been.

    Maybe the alternate reality stuff would sit better on another viewing, but right now it isn't even though I still think the movie was really good

    • Rob

      I think the afterglow/heaven interpretation is much better. They set up such a perfect and simple ending and completely whiffed on it. All they had to do was have Jake look into the mirrored crescent thing at the end and see HIMSELF. And just have the movie end right there. Have him look at himself in the mirror and then turn to Michelle and say "Let's get that coffee" or maybe she asks "Are you alright?" and he says "Never felt better." Something like that.

      It woulda been so perfect I can't believe they missed it.

      • Mark

        Sounds familiar...what could it be...hmmmmm...let me think...oh, right, the textbook hollywood ending. In all seriousness though, the purpose of a film is not necessarily to make you feel good. A good movie leaves the viewer contemplating the film, not going, "gee wiz, that ending made me feel soooooo complete." I guess, though, that's just an opinion, but I don't really thinking they whiffed on anything. This film seems to be incredibly well thought out.

      • Larry

        But if you think about it, wouldn't his "afterglow' in and of itself be an alternate reality as far as he's concerned? Yep. Problem solved. Two birds, one stone.

    • capnpaco

      For me, the alternative reality stuff was necessary. The explanation that Jake was just looking around in Sean's short term memory doesn't seem viable to me; Jake can't "get to know" the other passengers or find out who the killer was, because Sean didn't know that stuff. The source code needed to be "real" in some sense for Jake to have had any chance of completing the mission.

      The tricky part is that Goodwin and the scientist/boss must realize this also, and presumably the scientist guy has figured out that a Jake from a different reality could affect his reality, through the source code program. (I have thought of this possibility, and I'm just a layman watching a movie, so obviously the scientist in charge must have thought of it as well...)

      • Rome

        You stole the the words outta my mouth...or the thoughts outta my brain and typed them there!! Exactly my point was the fact that if they were Fentress's memories Colter was replaying them,there was no way of him knowing the other people or influencing their actions unless he was entering an alterate universe. However, whats stupid is the fact that the inventor of the source code (the scientist guy) does not realise this fact and insists that the the past could not be altered...or maybe he realises this but is indifferent to it because it does not affect him or his reality

        • isaiah

          I think they knew. But didnt tell him for the sake of the mission.

      • JayDelz

        You two nailed it. The whole premise seems stupid to me - the scientist built this for the purpose of living through another's memories; but in spite of knowing the past can't be altered (especially just through memories!), he expects the traveler to do things differently in the host's body to solve the problem? If this was the purpose of the machine, common sense tells me it shouldn't have been built at all.

        Throwing in the alternate reality allowed the movie to be made around a broken idea, but it feels like it was thrown in there just so it made half-sense enough that people would buy it.

        • asteriskrolled

          I personally took the purpose of the source code machine as it was described. It is simply meant to utilize the last 8 minutes of Sean's life, but also the lives of everyone there. For the simulation to have so much detail, I don't think having just Sean's memory was enough. One person can't take in that much detail or predict what everyone will say. So they not only extracted Sean's 8 minutes, but also the 8 minutes of everyone that died on that train to put together a simulated reality. Jake/Colter was just someone who could sync the best with one of the passengers. So I'm doubting the machine's capability to create alternate realities in REAL life... what it did do was prevent more terrorism but at the cost of seriously messing with a person's brain in the meantime.

          So basically, everything actually was just happening in Colter's head, aka I believe in the afterglow/heaven interpretation, up to the last moment of the movie. Sure, it IS an alternate reality-- like Dumbledore says, it's happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean that it isn't real.

    • Atif

      I agree about the "afterglow".But will that afterglow be long enough for cotler in Fentress body to live a whole life of a few decades.Are you talking about dropping in Limbo.

  • Ian

    First off, thanks to Brad for posting this since I requested it.

    That being said, I completely agree with Brad's interpretation. What this means though is that Source Code does not work how Colter is told by Rutledge and Goodwin that it works. Whether this was deliberate misinformation by them (more so Rutledge than Goodwin) or whether they honestly thought it didn't create parallel realities is debatable, though ultimately irrelevant. What Source Code actually does is create an alternate reality each time it's initiated; it doesn't simply expire at the end of eight minutes. There's further proof of this because in at least two instances, Colter's consciousness remains in Sean's body past the eight minute threshold...the time when he gets Christina off the train and is then hit by another train on the tracks after seeing the commuter train explode in the distance (presumably at the planned time of 7:26 am), secondly when he IDs the bomber and follows him to the van, where he and Christina are both shot. In that instance, the bomber says that Colter "messed up his timing," a clear indication that it's after 7:26, and yet Colter's consciousness in still in Sean's body until he dies. Death is what throws him back to the original reality, not the expiration of eight minutes. Now you could argue that this is a plot hole because Goodwin on the other technician monitoring Colter would realize that he was still "in" the Source Code after eight minutes had expired...of course you could also argue that time doesn't move at the same pace in both realities, but that opens up a whole new floodgate of possibilities.

    The only issue I have with this interpretation is that after Colter stops the bomb from exploding and remains in Sean's body, he seems to still be alive in the incubator at Nellis AFB in the very last shot of the film, meaning his consciousness is in two places at once in the same reality, which is a bit of a jump for me given the rules in place. But it's much better than my original interpretation upon walking out of the theatre, that Source Code works how Rutledge says it does. In that case allowing Colter's consciousness to remain in Sean's body would seem to be a huge plot hole and would violate the absolute eight minute rule because he is now dead in the original reality (the only reality in this interpretation). So to me, because that interpretation cannot make sense due to the way the film ends, the multiple reality interpretation must be true.

    The heaven interpretation is one I hadn't seen, but I guess that makes sense as well. Another big gripe I've seen is that people wanted the film to end five or so minutes earlier than it does, on the freeze frame shot. This would have been arguably more emotionally satisfying, but would lead to a much different interpretation in my opinion (namely, Colter is dead).

    Hope that all makes sense, I flew through this since I'm on the way out the door for a few hours.

    • http://biggiesplace.wordpress.com Biggie

      That's exactly what I wanted. For the movie to end on the freeze frame. It's satisfying, and it makes sense given the rules the movie has established. Having it continue gives it this super happy ending thing that you'd expect if Spielberg had directed the movie. Because where does Sean's consciousness go in the new alternate reality if Colter is now inhabiting his body? That's where the logic breaks down.

      • Sarah

        Yeah, finally--this is the problem I am having. If Colter alters reality such that the train never crashes and he gets to live happily ever after with Christina, as if the people on the train never died, what have they done with the actual Sean Fentress? Despite all the cues that this is an almost too-perfect "happily ever after" ending, that seems like a huge hole to me... it's not so perfect and happy if it involves eliminating the real Sean from the universe. It's also bizarre to imagine a "happy" ending in which Colter repeatedly does this: goes into other people's consciousnesses, averts disaster, and then inhabits the body of the person he's taken over. It is almost sinister to me, to imagine him colonizing all these people's bodies in infinite alternate realities!

    • Älskling

      I too thought that death was the jolt back to reality.

      I'd forgotten that Christina lived after getting off the train. I got distracted by the continuing story and didn't think what happened to HER when Colter/Fentriss got hit by a train.

      But I also thought perhaps it turned into a "Final Destination" thing where they die anyway because they originally did. After all, they both get shot and die.

    • Mark

      So, I thought that the idea of his consciousness being in two places at once is a stretch too, but the thing is, that the consciousness inhabiting Sean's body at the end of the film is Colter's initial consciousness, displaced into a different reality. The consciousness in Colter's body at the end of the film is Colter's consciousness created for that reality. Though they represent the same person, they are two, completely separate consciousnesses. Similar to if you were to travel back in time, you might run into yourself.

      • Chirurgie

        yep, agree with Mark above. Colter at the end, which inhabits Sean's body (only person to actually die or have his mind cease to exist anyway in this 'new reality') is different from 'virgin Colter' (ie never used in the Source Code yet).

        By the way, the movie the way we saw it IS an alternate reality (which is, as this movie's science goes, a real reality) since Goodwin 1 tells him at the beginning 'everything will be ok' something which Goodwin 2 only learns at end of movie. So Colter (version 0)has saved reality before and survived beyond the 8 minutes to inform Goodwin 1 to tell Colter 1 that everything will be ok.

    • Jef

      Nope, if the movie ended there the story is not complete for us to understand. It's not the directors fault if people don't understand parallel realities.

    • Josh_Penn

      I think the critical point to understand is that they are not "creating a new alternate reality" each time they start up the source code...they are simply accessing pre-existing ones, which would then exist in an infinite amount of dimensions, given that Colter is bound to always eventually going to gather enough information to survive, making crossovers between realities perpetually possible. It's an infinite loop, or an ongoing cycle in an infinite number of realities, almost like a universal anomalies existing somewhere in the ever-expanding and infinitely dimensional universe. In this realm of possibilities every imaginable twist of fate is possible, and the interesting part is we are just focusing on this portion of these alternate realities. What happens in one of realities, ultimately Vera Farmiga's character will spill the beans about receiving the text from Colter? Then I wonder how his story would play out in "that" dimension. Would he be considered a hero? Or would they seek out his new identity and assassinate him, since his job is done and he can now expose the mental slavery Source Code subjects people to? All in all, though, this then has an infinite amount of outcomes....population again another infinite level of dimensions...ugh...

  • david

    The movie should've ended when everyone was frozen in time.... That would've been a perfect ending... instead it went on and kinda ruined the rest of the movie for me.

    • criterion10

      agree 110%...movie was pretty good otherwise

      • maja

        Couldn't agree more with you. I felt that the ending was a bit of a mess with them trying to make the movie more complicated and important than it really was or should have been.

    • Zen

      Agreed, it really bugs me when the film creators feel like they have to make a nice tidied up story ending in a movie like this. I far prefer a film such as this to end it in an ambiguous way that leaves the audience thinking and deciding for themselves what happens next. If I ever rent this and show it to anyone else, I will stop the movie at the frozen kiss. That was the ending it was supposed to have. Great movie, poor ending. Just a hair away from achieving something really spectacular.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

        "I far prefer a film such as this to end it in an ambiguous way that leaves the audience thinking and deciding for themselves what happens next."

        There's an entire thread of comments here discussing different intrepretations of the ending. I only really see one, but others are seeing totally different endings.

        To end on the kiss would actually have made the ending much more straightforward.

      • Sue

        If you are going to self-edit a film because you personally don't like the ending, you should definitely let people know in advance before they agree to watch a film with you.

        I (and I think most people) would not watch a movie with someone who would do such a thing because I want to watch the ACTUAL movies, not other people's personal interpretations of them.

        Stop it at the scene if you're watching it by yourself. But it's rude to do that if you are watching the movie with another person.

    • m1

      I completely disagree.

  • Reading way too much into it.. just for debate’s sake.

    Just saw this today/// really really enjoyed it. Thought the chemistry between Jake & Michelle was very convincing and Vera played her part very well also.. Jeffery Wright was great also. It's not worthy of does it mean this or mean that.. it was a fun simple film really and the concept for the film was also original.. I feel the concept for this film is ten fold more interesting than the over hyped importance (Meh) of Inception a FUN film not a life changing, generation anything just a fun film not overly smart, not overly well acted, just fun summer movie it was that was blown way out of control with it's importance (Inception that is).. and this is up there too, in my mind it's no less or better than Inception just it was a fun film.. a good way to wasted a couple hours..

    • Roger

      I agree with the alternate reality interpretation. I thought that the movie should have ended with them at the mirrored sculpture though. But I have to disagree with "the concept for the film was original."... I see the film as a Groundhog Day + Back to the Future with a little Matrix added for action. I believe nothing original comes out of Hollywood anymore. I once thought Avatar was, then a friend showed me how it was basically an "alien version of Pocahontas."

      • Jason

        There was so much more to Avatar than what the average watcher will walk away with, namely the "Dances with Wolves" interpretation. Read up on The Law of Attraction.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

        A bit off topic - but I'd have to argue that Avatar is incredibly weak from a plot point of view.

        Are there some themes and messages in there? Yes, but very few, no original and at such a long running time - not impressed.

  • Winchester

    I totally agree with Brad - I'm more interested in discussing the options about Source Code than for Inception.

    I completely agree that in fact (but unbeknownst to Rutledge I think from Goodwin's line about not being able to change the past, but only affect the future. She's right, you don't change the past because you are in fact creating a NEW reality instead) every time Colter is sent back it creates a new reality. At first I was under the impression that in each of those realities when Fentriss' body dies though and Colter is snapped back into the reality HE originally came from (where he was injured in the helicopter crash and ended up in the laboratory) it would then 'end' as it would collapse back and end. A closed loop.

    Each reality comes into being but then ends when Colter dies.

    That would apply no matter how long Colter/Fentriss lived for in each loop, be it the eight minutes or the two loops where he was in the reality for longer. Only as long as 'he' is alive will that reality continue for as long as he does. But, also I could be wrong on that.

    Now, I have no idea why Colter believes that Rutledge is wrong when he says that you die and that's it when you get switched off.

    Anyway, towards the end Colter wants to try anyway. So, he saves the bomb and we have the 'freeze' moment (now, in fairness this is where I was suspecting the film MIGHT end, with a perfect moment in time frozen in Colter's mind forever with the day saved and everyone on the train happy) then the continuation. But this is when Colter's body dies in reality A, NOT his mind and that remains in Fentriss' body which is alive in reality B (where the threat never comes to be) - so maybe the pause is some sort of transitional moment as his consciousness moves into the new body between the realities?

    I don't know, I just threw that out there.

    Then there's the text - which I still don't quite understand how it travelled between realities but I'm starting to wonder if that's because it didn't. But I haven't organised that yet, I need to try and straighten it out in my head.

    But I think at the end of the film there are two realities. The reality that the bomb originally went off in, and then the reality where the day was saved, Source Code remained unused and yet Colter exists in both, as does his consciousness (somehow, don't ask me) but in one of them in the body of Sean.

    I don't know if all that made sense either though as it's late here and I'm about to head off to bed so I may come back tomorrow and wonder what the heck I was rambling about!

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      My interpretation of the pause is simply that it's a movie technique and didn't actually happen. Basically just a slice of life on display. I should also add, I asked Jones about how he did that and he told me all they did was have everyone remain still and pulled the camera through the group. No special tricks or anything other than some CGI for spilling coffee and the like.

      • Älskling

        That's how I saw that pause as well. Just to mark a moment—the 8 minute mark—but just a moment.

    • Ian

      Agreed that the freeze-frame is just a cinematic technique. My interpretations regarding some of the issues you raise:

      I don't necessarily agree that each reality ends when Coulter dies, but ultimately I don't think it matters since we see everything from his point of view.

      The text doesn't travel between two realities. It's sent from Colter in the body of Sean in the final reality to Goodwin in the final reality, a reality in which Source Code was never initiated because the bomb never went off. However, by quoting the poem or whatever it was that they used to jog his memory earlier, and of which Goodwin would have been aware since it was part of the whole Source Code package they were preparing to initiate, he possibly clues Goodwin into the fact that it is him in an alternate reality in which Source Code was initiated.

      There are at least two realities at the end, but Colter is dead in the original narrative reality. However, he seems to be in two places (and two bodies) in the final reality...in the incubator and in the body of Sean.

      • Winchester

        Yeah, they might not end, but I'd agree it might not really matter - all that would be the case would be that there were several further realities where both bombs went off as intended and Colter didn't survive long enough to stay existing in them.

        Agreed on the text/email - I was momentarily going in a loop at that point trying to work out where the 'last' scene of the original reality was and the 'first' scene of the new reality started and was getting mixed. Basically, yep, the text is between the same two alternate people. Did the movie say where he got Goodwin's phone number though? To send it in the first place.

        I might be mildly disappointed if the freeze was just a technique but hey ho.......it wouldn't matter in the long run.

    • Dave Anny

      I agree with the freeze frame marking the slice of life aspect of the whole thing, which tied into the theme of the movie, being that you never know when death is gonna come and blah blah. That said, I was so happy when it didn't end on the freeze frame. That seemed so trite to me. I thought the ending they went with was much better, and I agree with the many simultaneous realities idea. If you ask me, the freeze frame would have been the real cop out.

    • Donna

      I just want to know how Colter knew where to sent the text to Goodwin ...

      • Chris

        Maybe he looked it up in a directory, I don't think it really matters how, but I agree that the text is not sent between realities, it is sent from the alternate reality Colter Stevens to the alternate reality Goodwind. In the original reality Goodwind most likely is arrested, discharged and maybe sent to jail because she euthanized Stevens and disobeyed an order.

      • Jef

        He googled for the instutute before texting.

    • Jason

      Yeah, the text didn't move between realities. The text was sent in reality B and was recieved by Goodwin in reality B.

  • austin

    Also in the film, Culter asks Vera Farmiga if, and I'm just paraphrasing, she thinks there's alternate version of herself living in a parallel universe, strengthening the alternate reality theory.

  • Priscilla

    I missed something. We have Colter living happily in the alternate reality even though Goodwin terminated his life in reality "A". That's good. Then Goodwin receives the email and checks Colter to confirm he is living. This means he will be used repeatedly in one horrible experience after another "for the ultimate good", but still... This would go on for as long as the powers that be can keep him alive. One Colter is living a happy new life, but the original Colter is a victim of his captors. Was his request that Goodwin tell him "everything will be alright" before he is sent out on his "first" mission a message to himself affirming he will rise above each experiment in terror to create happy new realities by the time each mission is over? This will leave the original Colter always a captive of his controllers (i.e. those who send him where and when they decide) and multiple Colters living happily in their new realities independent of whether the prime Colter lives or eventually dies. All this is really to say while I am happy for the alternate Colters, I am disturbed by the fate of Colter prime.

    • sleeptight

      Actually I think you have it backwards... The original Colter is technically the one who will keep being freed, creating more "alternate" Colters (those who haven't needed to be used in Source Code yet). It is a grim idea that gives the movie a little more depth, and I personally liked how the ending wasn't shallow enough to end at the freeze frame.

      • capnpaco

        My understanding is that when the original Colter "frees" himself, a "new" Colter who is a slave to the Source Code program is created in the new reality. So at the end of the movie, "Colter A" is dead in the original reality, but in the alternate reality he is alive in Sean's body. Meanwhile, there is now a "Colter B" half-dead and hooked up to machines in the source code lab.

    • Älskling

      I think you've hit it there, Priscilla. The original Coulter is a slave to be repeatedly used as long as the body/mind holds out. In the end there could be any number of Coulter consciousnesses happily living out an existence by supplanting the doomed consciousness.

    • Jef

      And what about the casualties in each reality? I'm not that happy about that.

  • Kris

    Completely agree, Brad.

    Austin-yes, that definitely was foreshadowing. He even asked if she believed there was another Goodwin, "the Goodwin that made different choices". (And each time Colter went back in, he made different choices)

    In a featurette for the film (on yahoo movies), they had interviews by producers, etc....one astrophysicist said that they physicists see time as a river, and many believe that river can be split into two (rivers). This also further confirms the alternate reality interpretation.

    Also, when Goodwin told Rutledge he made a call to him (from the train), Rutledge said that he would not have received it. That it would have been a different him in a different reality receiving the call. This further confirms the alternate reality interpretation, and also leads me to believe rutledge may have been aware that the device created alternate realities.

    Lastly, when Colter sent the text to Goodwin (it was actually an email), didn't colter say that they thought they had a device that could prevent future attacks, but they actually had a device that could create alternate realities...(or something to that extent)

  • Kris

    In the email Colter sent you Goodwin, he said "If your reading this email, then Source Code worked even better than you and Dr. Rutledge imagined. You thought you were creating 8 minutes of a past event but your not. You've created a whole new world".

    That clears everything up. No room for interpretation! ;-)

    • m1

      Now THIS I agree with. I don't see any other way the ending could have been.

  • Ian

    The biggest "complaint" I've seen regarding the ending is that it should have ended on the freeze-frame shot. While this is perhaps a more emotionally satisfying ending, I think it's much more open, though the straightforward interpretation is probably that Colter is dead in the original reality and that the alternate reality continues. But I think it opens up a whole new slate of interpretations that all have problems of their own and probably wouldn't make sense because I assume the film was made with one ending in mind. I think if you chose to end the film as is with the freeze-frame there would be issues, simply because it wasn't designed to end there.

    Another issue I have is...what happens to Sean's consciousness in the final reality? Is it simply replaced by Colter's? If so, where does Sean's consciousness go? Again, this opens the possibility of philosophical and theological debate, which is probably best avoided. I guess one possibility is that Sean's consciousness "merges" somehow with Colter's, which I guess means Colter would now have all of Sean's memories, etc. But if that was the case in the last reality, it would have to be the case in every reality, and there's no evidence of that, rather there's evidence to the contrary, because the first time Colter/Sean wakes up on the train he doesn't know how he got there. His last memory (we learn later when he's back in the pod in the narrative reality) is being in Afghanistan.

    • Sarah

      I can't help commenting again (although I already wrote this in reply to someone else), because that's the problem I have, too. What I don't get is the glowing "Hollywood ending" and "everything is all right" sense of the ending, when in fact Colter has just whacked the real Sean out of existence... unless, as you said, he has somehow merged with Sean. But as you also said, there's no evidence of that. And it also strikes me that according to this interpretation, Colter will continue to be used in source code to avert disasters, thereby knocking out countless other people's consciousnesses and inhabiting them, colonizing the world with Colters. That is a wee bit sinister, at least to me. That is why I can't help feeling the "afterlife" theory is more convincing, despite not believing in one myself and therefore not exactly wanting to grab up that interpretation.

  • http://www.spout.com Christopher Campbell


    Thanks for the shout out/link. I don't deny there are alternate/parallel realities, and when I said his consciousness can't be in two places at the same time, I meant within one reality/timeline. But now I'm confusing myself, because that can happen in the sense of them being of different times -- like how any time travel film can have multiples of the same person at the same time...

    never mind, I can't even figure out how to explain what I mean now. I've been reading way too many comments and my head is about to explode.

  • Kris

    @Ian- My interpretation was that colter IS Sean in this reality. You see, when this new reality was started, Shawns consiousness did not exist. Does that make sense? What I do not understand is how Colters consiousness could be in 2 places at once (though I do have a theory I will share later)

  • JohnB

    It might have made sense if the movie lasted 8 minutes after goodwin pulled the plug on colter. In this type of ending, colter has his own sort of post-mortum source code after he dies. No happily ever after.

  • Brian

    Apparently, I totally did not understand this movie. Prior to reading this article and comments I thought source code was an 8 minute simulation that Colter's conscious could enter in 8 minute intervals. Once the 8 minutes was up then simulation ends and Colter's mind returns to the capsule setting. Obviously I was wrong and all this talk of alternate realities is totally mind blowing.

    • Älskling

      That's the way Dr. Rutledge and the Nellis folks understand it or at least explain it. But in the end they're wrong.

  • Z Child

    This is the second movie where Gyllenhaal plays a person caught in a Multi/parallel universe plot. In both, He tells those he cares about, "everything will be ok" and I think that is plain cool on a meta level.

    • Winchester

      When I was thinking about the film during it, I did flirt with Tangenital Universes being something along the lines of what was created every time he went back............but it's been too long since I saw Donnie Darko so I couldn't remember entirely how they operated.

      And I think Source Code is about more 'straightforward' alternate creation anyway.

  • sleeptight

    This is how I interpreted the "2 consciousnesses in the same reality."

    So we know we see two Colters, but they're technically alternate consciousnesses. What I mean is, Original Colter has a completely different consciousness than Alternate Colter. Therefore it would be safe to assume that, given the same problem, both Colter's, like the Alternate Goodwin, would make different choices. Both men have memories of a similar past, but both are technically different individuals.

    Anyway, hope that helps to possibly clarify things. Just saw the movie and it rocked!

  • http://m0vie.wordpress.com Darren

    I don't know, I'm more inclined to believe that what Colter experiences isn't necessarily "real." I don't believe the Source Code is actually a means of time travel, I'm inclined to believe what Rutledge proposes about it (since he claims to have invited it).

    Rutledge claims it was generated from the "afterglow" of eight minutes, but there's clearly a certain amount of adaptation going on there - the very fact that Colter is able to actively engage with these people (and the world) rather than passively observing, suggests the device is doing more than playing a feed for him to interpret. It seems to be some sort of computer model that builds an artificial world. Even on the train, Colter can reach Rutledge's office, implying that the Source Code doesn't model the train, it models the entire world.

    My explanation is that the source code, running off Colter's brain patterns (even after he's plugged out), generates an alternate reality for him to live out. It's just far more detailed and in-depth that even Rutledge was aware (since he was only interested in those eight minutes). And so, within the programme, it branches. And, because of the fractal nature of Source Code, when this universe's Colter is sent into action, it's likely he'll create his own subset of reality where that crisis never occurred, and (within that subset of reality) that Coleter will do the same.

    Basically, you end up, down the line, with a perfect world where no terrorist attrocity ever occurs because Colter has always stopped it. Sort of like pruning a tree, where Colter always creates a subset of reality where he stops the next attack.

    Sure, it's impossible, what with the memory and space requirements, but no less implausible than honest-to-goodness time travel.

    • http://www.soulhonky.com SoulHonky

      It's not really "a perfect world" though. It's just a world in which Colter stops one terrorist attack, escapes his blown up body, and takes over someone else's. Well, not really "escapes" because a second Colter still exists in that reality in the Source Code.
      And if the alt. reality Source Code is used, does the second Colter than take over a different body?
      A lot of people seem to compare this to Inception but it almost seems more like The Matrix and asking, "What if Agent Smith was the good guy?"

      • http://m0vie.wordpress.com Darren

        Yep, but it's a much better world than the alternative, where Colter learns (painfully) each time he goes through the process and makes it a better. So, extrapolating from that, each world is a significant improvement on the last.

        It would obviously be a different body each time, as it would be a different crisis. The perfect world is one where Rutledge never has to put Colter through Source Code, if that makes sense.

        So our Colter stopped the bomb, so the second Colter wouldn't have to. Then, as Rutledge suggests, that Colter will be used to investigate the next incident - again, he'll ask to go in one last time to fix it, creating a world-within-a-world-within-a-world, with a new Colter. That third Colter won't be used to stop the train or the next crisis, but the one after that, and so on...

        The idea is that you eventually reach an artificial reality where Colter never has to venture into the Source Code, never has to die repeatedly or be exploited as a military experiment. In essence, by using Source Code, Colter can 9with enough time and infinite recursion, create a world where Source Code is unnecessary.

        Not sure if that made sense. Might elaborate on that.

        I agree with the Matrix comparison, actually. That's what I was thinking of when I watched the ending. "Source Code is not about time travel," indeed.

    • DL-SF

      The only problem here is when he comes up with information that Sean could not possibly have--for example, when he sees and diffuses the bomb on the train and when he follows the the guy out to his van and reads his license plate. There's no way the "source code" could extrapolate this information from Colter's mind because Colter never experienced it. The only two options were either 1) a parallel universe was created, complete in itself, that expired in 8 minutes (or after Colter dies); or 2) a parallel universe was created, complete in itself, that continued on whether Colter was thrust back into the prime reality or not. The end says, QED, option 2.

      • DL-SF

        Oops...getting confused in my characters...

        There's no way the "source code" could extrapolate this information from SEAN's mind because SEAN never experienced it.

      • Jo

        But Sean was the bomber in the train. He's the one that just left the toilet (that's what Christina tells him when he asks her)

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

    Brad nailed it.

    It took me the drive home to work all this out in my head which, in my opinion, is a great sign.

    I thought it was a very clever film that had some very original and creative ideas. The ending for me is exactly what Brad posted here (not sure if I'm pleased or disappointed my interpretation was the same).

    I thought this was massively more interesting than Inception (and Nolan's Memento is one of my very favourites, I'm a fan of his). The Inception ending for me was almost a carbon copy of Bladerunner and for all it's visual phenomenallness - it never lived up to the awesome ideas it played with early on.

    What I would say is that I feel a tiny bit more sculpting of the "Source Code" script could have made the ending a bit cleverer. What I mean is, many of the people who came out of this film felt it didn't make any sense rather that not sure how to interperet it. I think if they'd simply played up the angle of this being new science and not fully understood yet, people would have put more effort into interpreting the ending. When the science rules are laid down early on, the scientists are actually proven wrong. Those rules were laid with such conviction it makes it difficult for an audience to dismiss them in the current script.

    My favourite film of 2011 thus far.

    Checkout my film at:

  • http://www.soulhonky.com SoulHonky

    I too didn't see how the ending was up for interpretation and I thought that the fact that it ended on the Source Code being the main issue at the end was one of the reasons that the film was so disappointing.

    As a whodunnit, the film failed IMO because the time pressure was vague, at best, and the investigation was all trial and error with little stakes. When the Source Code was originally compared to the afterglow of a light, I thought it meant that they only had so many shots at it before the window of opportunity closed (i.e, the glow faded out) but that didn't seem to matter.
    Also, it's one of those cases in which the more you think about it, the less satisfying it becomes. (Really? A lone bomber who inexplicably a) blows up a train to warn of his bigger mission and b) just gives up at the end? Also, shouldn't it have been obvious that the one white van driving into Chicago while everyone else was evacuating was the bomber?)

    As a character piece, it's also has too many shortcomings. It has the same problem as Adjustment Bureau in that someone learns that they have a kind of special power or task but instead fall for a girl that they've known for only a few minutes. I think that angle was even less convincing in this film because Stevens was supposed to be saving millions of lives but was sidetracked by a girl that he's known for a few eight minute intervals.

    And finally, I thought the ending/alternate reality cutthe legs out of the morality play of the film (would you use a human essentially as a piece of hardware for the Code if it could save lives?) or the less interesting "Would you kill one person to save the lives of others?", which is essentially what happens to Fentress in the alt. reality; he ceases to exist. Jake gets the girl but family dinners are about to become awkward.

    To me, the question shouldn't have been "Was it time travel or alternate reality?" but rather "Would you have wiped his brain and left him essentially stuck in the tiny room until the next disaster so he could save lives or would you essentially destroy the Source Code device and let him die?

  • Leo

    I think your interpretation is solid. I thought I have to explain my side but we pretty much saw it the same way.

    My only problem with it is that a certain "law of conservation of consciousness" is violated. Whatever happened to the original Sean's consciousness if it was a parallel reality and not a computer simulation?

    Also I quite disagree with the idea that he was at "several" (or was it eight) places at once. Because technically, Sean died in the first seven attempts so Colter's consciousness only returned to the narrative reality whenever the train exploded. Only in the ending that Colter's consciousness drifted from the narrative reality to the parallel reality. That is, no replication of Colter's consciousness happened - it only traversed several frames.

    • http://www.soulhonky.com SoulHonky

      True but at the very least, Colter does exist twice in one reality in the end - once as Fentress and one that is still in his own ravaged body in the Source Code machine at the base.

  • JR

    Can it be that he DID affect and change the first reality? If we start with that point and walk it back, is there a way to interpret that the only reality that exists is the one where he changes history and time by thwarting the first attack, which causes time to revert back before the crisis ever came to be? That the ultimate effect of the source code is not in creating other realities in order to discover information about the event, but that, the event, being the only reason the first reality exists, once thwarted, returns that reality to it's pre-crisis status?

  • MajorFilmFan

    I think that when Sean/Colter stops the train bombing, something happens where the Source Code world and the real world become the same thing, and that's how Goodwyn can receive Colter's text. I also think that becasue Colter becomes Sean perminantly, Colter's bodt comes back to life, or something

  • The Source

    The ending ruined a fantastic movie. The ending was clear; in an alternate universe Coulter averted the bombing, and occupied Sean's body for the rest of eternity. That ending was unnecessary. The movie should have gone to credits after time froze and coulter should have gotten the happy ending to his life that he requested. This ridiculous alternate ending makes no sense. Also what about Sean? So now, Coulter inherits the body and life of Sean, a perfectly innocent and seemingly nice guy who is now what? Dead? In limbo? What happens to him in this rosey end?

    Also, Coulter is forced to live this lie with the woman of his dreams for the rest of his (Sean's) life? She fell in love with Sean, not Coulter and now Coulter has to live a lie.

    In sum, the writer should have left the audience sad, but satisfied that COulter got the ending he wanted and derseved, to die happy on the train.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

      I think this is an interesting angle - but I disagree.

      Sean in the ending, is dead - not a great ending for him... But it's important to remember that he was dead anyway once that bomb went off.

      Christina was obviously attracted to Sean, but it would be a stretch to say she was in love with him. It's actually interesting to watch the different performances of Monaghan reacting to different Coulters - she falls for him.

      It's not a perfectly rounded rosey ending - but who said it had to be. I did feel it was going to end on that frozen shot, but I was actually pleased with the additional material.

    • Omilio

      Sean doesnt have to live a lie. Women when it comes to love DONT KNOW WHAT THEY WANT. I coulda been a murderer inside and she woulda still been awestruck.

    • capnpaco

      I'm not sure to what extent Christina "fell in love with Sean"; we know that she wants to have coffee with him, and it hasn't happened yet. She even acknowledges to Coulter that he seems like "a completely different person", and she seems like she's happy with the change.

  • http://desertofreel.wordpress.com/ Kob

    Didn't give the ending much thought, I personally, was wondering how strange it would be since Colter, who's just stolen someone's identity, would fit into this new parallel reality. He'd have to swot up on those history books if he wants to be a teacher.

    Regarding the ending I thought it was slightly anticlimatic, delivering in the more intellectual and sci-fi themes but emotionally just not quite there for me.

    The idea of two colters existing (even if it is their consiousness) initially confused me a little. Colter died in one reality, created another instantaneously which diverged from original due to his decision. In this reality two Colters exist, one a broken man, the other in the body whose identity is not his but that's fine because in the other reality (the one we left) there are no Colters left so it made sense to me within the context of the film that it was possible.

    • Winchester

      To your first paragraph, yep that did occur to me as well.

      What happens when he turns up at the school and has none of Fentriss' memories about how to be a teacher.

      But then I figured I wasn't meant to think about that particular aspect of the aftereffects.

  • http://themoviedudes.blogspot.com Cody

    What I noticed was that in a couple of the trips inside the source code, Sean gets off the train and confronts the two passengers. In both instances, the train explodes but he wasn't on it therefore, leaving him inside the source code until he dies, which he ultimately does when he gets hit by the train and shot by the bomber. But if he wasn't killed by those two people, I'm assuming he could have lived in that alternate reality forever. In my opinion, that explains why he was able to live with Christina at the end. He never died in this alternate reality so he can't be sent back to the narrative reality. The source code created multiple realities.

  • Susan

    I just saw the movie and really liked it,much better than Inception. I like the alternate reality theories. It appears to me that the purpose of the source code was orginally to be used as a way to prevent future disasters from happening but in fact what happens in the end is that it prevented the original disaster from happening through an alternate reality hence "the source code is much more than you imagine" Why not just use the source code to go to the disaster that caused him to die in Afghanistan and create another reality where that disaster did not happen and therefore he is really still alive??

    • http://joyinspire.wordpress.com Muhammad Shadi al-Rajeh

      Me too compare this movie with Inception and its really much better but Inception still more close to reality and has no weak points as this one. I think its not possible that source code prevent what happened in Afghanistan cause source code as i understand has an access to someone memory for the last 8 minutes, that mean we can just see what he saw, not change it, so if the original person we have access on his memory had not seen the criminal in the last 8 minutes of his life, we will not see him too, cause the one we use to go in that 8 minutes Colter here, has no idea what that person didnt see.
      I think that's the most obvious weak point in the movie, but its still am AM A Z IN G movie :)

  • http://paradox.tv icewater

    I think this film is one of (if not the most) innovative creation myths ever put forth. yes it may have the typical hollywood devices, and gets a bit slow at one point... but that is secondary. Films are not - and I know this is an unusual opinion - about art or entertainment.

    They are how the universe is explaining itself to itself.

    If curious about my interpretation (and have already seen the movie as it's a spoiler)

  • Atherton

    Very well explained aboot alternative reality... I should say so. I had similar thoughts. Makes me really wonder that alternative reality does exist however we usually term it as DeJavu (typo) in the present world. Nice movie :)

  • http://www.kakalios.com JimKakalios

    I have been turning this over since Sat. night, and thanks to Brad and the commenters here, I think I've resolved the consciousness question(s). I agree that when Coulter goes back intot he Source Code, he is experiencing a parallel reality - as in the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. (by the way - there is no such thing as "parabolic calculus").

    (1) In the final reality - Coulter is NOT consciousness in two places at once. He is awake and aware in Sean's body and at the same time his damaged body is in the Nellis lab - IN A COMA. He is not awake and aware in the lab, he can not initiate motion or form an independent coherent thought. He is in essence brain dead, kept artifically alive until there is a time and need for him to be activated (if there is another terrorist attack).

    Even if he is activated - this would NOT influence or affect Coulter in Sean's body, as it would take place in Sean/Coulter's FUTURE. Remember he was sent back to Chicago at 7:50 AM - the bomb exploded at 7:58. Time progresses forward for both Sean/Coulter and Nellis/Coulter at the same rate. This was why Goodwin and Rutlidge were upset about how many trials it was taking - for each trial burned up a minimum of 8 min., and brought the second explosion closer to happening.

    What you are doing and thinking now is not affected by what you will be doing and thinking several hours from now. Nellis/Coulter may not be activated for weeks/months/years later. But even if he is - Sean/Coulter can live his life, unaffected by what is happening in his fiuture. There is no paradox, for Coulter in Sean's body is only awake and conscious at one point in time.

    (2) What happened to Sean's consciousness? Here there is a potential problem. Basically I believe Sean is dead. When Coulter's mind jumps into his body, it over-writes Sean's onsciousness. Rutlidge probably knows this, and ignores the ethical issues. Sean will be dead when the bomb explodes, and Rutlidge believes that can not be changed. By sending Coulter into Sean's body, he robs Sean of the last 8 minutes of his life. As he would be unaware that a bomb would explode, killing him and everyone on board, he would not do anything extraordinary in those 8 min. Rutlidge probably believes it is sacrificing the last 8 min. of one man's life in order to save millions of lives if they can prevent the second bomb blast. Everytime Coulter enters the Source Code, he essentially kills Sean. Sean will die in every reality where Coulter does not eneter the code, and in all N - 1 realities where he does - so this is an ethical problem of order 1/N where N goes to infinity.

    alternatively, Sean may be alive in Coulter's damaged body - but there was no suggestion that somethign like that was happening. Here I'm taking the Quantum Leap analogy too literally.

    Sorry this is so long. Never ask a Quantum Physicist a question about time travel in a Science Fiction movie - you always get alecture in reply!

    • DL-SF

      Only two things don't hold up here:

      1. Coulter is learning information that would not have been known to Sean (e.g. the white van's license plate number).
      2. Coulter stays alive, at least twice, after the train blows up, thus violating the 8 minute "rule."

      Rutledge should know from these two data that a complete, alternate reality is being created. He should conclude, at that point, that Coulter's mind is "replacing" Sean's and thus killing Sean at that moment. Interestingly, because Coulter has replaced Sean in the alternate universe(s), Sean will no longer live those 8 minutes and thus, no "recording" can be made of his last 8 minutes. In the alternate universes, those last 8 minutes are actually Coulter's consciousness.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

        Only thing I'd add...

        ...is that I don't think we know that an alternate reality is being created. It may just be that we're entering an alternate reality each time.

    • DL-SF

      I think Einstein would have preferred that each of Coulter's trips "creates" an alternate universe. The other interpretation, that he is entering an alternate reality in each case, would imply that there are infinite (or really close), already established realities in which Coulter's (and everyelse's?) alternate actions are already set. Coulter would then have to shuffle through that infinite deck and "find" a particular one. Reminds me of Einstein's problem with Heisenberg's observation theory. At least in the context of the movie, since Coulter seems to "restart" at the same point each time as well as recalling what he did in each other instance, it's his "will" or "intention" that creates a new reality based on his own previous knowledge. Sure, could be as you say but...I claim Occam's razor!

  • Jasphoenix

    ok ladies and gentlemen, lets get technical

    i despise more recent endings because they simply do not round it of for me, they do that childish try to stick in your head thing thats just a cheap trick

    right that aside lets talk alternate
    The 10 Dimensions of the universe
    1sr dim- a line
    2st dim- length and width (2d cartoon for instance)
    3rd dim- look around... (depth)
    4th dim- duration (simplified is time, from 1 point of time to another)
    5th dim- This is what we want, a strongly belived theory is that every choice ever made creates an alternative reality and carry on branching out into more realitys
    this theory inclines that there are infinite realitys or to be more specific universes,

    but it is very important to the mechanic of this film, everytime the source code is innitiated (wether he saves the train or even after the train is saved and he is living his life in the alternate reality) we can safely assume that it will always create a new reality or universe, the thing i think people are getting confussed about is when it keeps flashing back to the original reality

    the 4th dimension from the perspective of the film is that he starts in the capsule (in reality in his mind because his body is comatosed comunicating via the computer)
    and ends with the girl turning him off

    the source code moments including the last one are the alternative realitys are being created and lived, everytime he dies he returns to the 4th dimension as the perspective of the film dictates, if not he continues his life in the alternative reality as we saw at the end

    and lastly the finale scene were she recieves the text shows that the source code is capable of 5th dimensional travel becuase that last scene is yet another alternative reality to the 4th dimension were our hero was turned of, and that 5th dimension becomes the new 4th dimension for the lady who recieves the text

    ofcourse this means that the source code is eligable for 6 dimensional travel aswell with is infinite amount of alternatives providing that all alternatives that are wished to travel in are after colters accident when he is inside the source code machine, and have acces to a dead persons last eight minuets to which it can create the alternative ending for colter

    and lastly the question of colter being conciouse in seans body in these alternative realitys whilst sean is alive,
    for eight minuets colter has control of seans dying thought procces, but this alone is creating an alternative reality,

    i beilive that sean dies the moment colter hijacks his last eight minuets of life, the reason it keeps flashin back to colter is that in these realitys inside the sourcecode colter in seans body dies, now we cant sit there and watch nothing, so again it flashes back to the 4th dimension as viewed by us and continues,

    in essece there are litrally thousands of scenes not included in the film using this theory (obviously not thousands were shot its just what could have been in the films "world")

    but the director has chosen what realitys we veiw by constantly returning to the 4th dimension the place we start and moving back and forth to the alternate realitys (5th dimension) until we settle on we realitys, the one were colter dies, the one were colter lives in seans body, and the one were the girl recieves the text message

    and i must say its beautifuly inteligent filmography

    now dont get me wrong my spelling is terrible, but my inteligence is unrivalled by most, i hope youve enjoyed

    and just to show of, if we imagine all the infinite universes with all there different realitys playing next to each other at all the different time zones and then having the ability to move beetween them this is known as the 10th dimension or the verse (as oppose to universe)

    cya :)

    • Random Physicist

      Just to clarify some points.

      10 Dimensions? (Research M-Theory.. not 10 but 11)

      Every time he dies he returns to the FOURTH 4th dimension?

      Fourth dimension is TIME. (So where is he returning to? To Time?)
      4th dimension becomes the fifth dimension? WHAT???

      You need to brush up on your physics!

      ¨now dont get me wrong my spelling is terrible, but my inteligence is unrivalled by most,...¨

      Errr... yeah... ¨most¨... just rivalled it.

      • Random Physicist

        I know you said
        4th dim- duration (simplified is time, from 1 point of time to another)

        but the other comment (about him returning to the 4th dimension) killed the whole thing you tried to explain.

  • Ryry67dude

    I started like this, but then I started to take it in a separate direction. The paralell reality trick could be plausible, but it's based off of the memory of a dead man. He can't start a new reality if it ends 8 minutes after it is created. This reality can be plausible, but if it only lasts for 8 minutes.

    Which leads us to the problem: What about the last reality?

    The world that Colter lives in while he is in the Source Code is constructed off of the memory of Sean, who died after 8 minutes. He couldn't live at all after the eight minutes because there was no world created by Sean's memory.

    How was he still alive then?

    He wasn't.

    Goodwin hit the killswitch, and right at that moment, time stopped. This was Colter's full death. Everything else past that part was the afterlife. I apologize to the non-religious, but everything after that point was his rendition of heaven. A life he wanted to live after seeing an 8 minute preview.

    Well that's my wacked out conspiracy. Any questions or refutes? I'd love to see what you all think of my theory...

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

      This is the best expalnation of an alternate theory I've heard yet...

      Personally I think that it isn't an afterlife however. Coulter's conciousness overrides Sean's. Once the 8mins are up, yes Sean no longer existed - but Coulter inside Sean (and everyone else) does now exist beyond that fatal point.

      Coulter hasn't been just popping back into Sean's memory - this is a world in which he has control over Sean's body and can affect his surroundings - I don't see why this would have to end if no deathly event occurs.

      It's actually a sci-fi issue with the details of one conciousness overriding another I guess - and therefore I'd probably have to argue that both interpretations make sense and are valid. Therefore, yes - the ending is open to interpretation.

      • Ryry67dude

        Your last paragraph sums it up, good sir. I have the same alternate reality theory as everyone else. Mine is different because MY idea of the alternate reality is heaven.

        But, all in all, it is open to interpretation.

    • Rob

      I think this explanation would be perfect if only Colter saw himself in the Chicago Bean reflection AND if the movie ended right after that without the stupid text message and "the source code will have it's day in the sun" stuff.

      Just end the movie right after Colter looks at his own reflection. So perfect.

      • Ryry67dude

        The email does complicate things. It was a brilliant cinematic element, having people think about the movie for days or weeks after seeing the movie. It's what makes it memorable and one of my favorites.

        To fit it in to my afterlife theory, I see it as how Source Code itself fits in to his heaven. Since he was trapped in Source Code for so long, his heaven shows Source Code as something that isn't yet used or will not have to be used. It also shows the alternate Goodwin that was hinted at in his conversation about there being "another Goodwin."

        I agree with your statement of the perfect ending being with him looking at his reflection, but this movie took a gamble that I personally love. One that ends with open ends, hence this comment. It takes the risk of confusing those who don't understand but gives a blank canvas for the ones who did understand. For example, Inception was such a hit because of its confusing an frustrating ending, when its perdect ending could have just been Cobb hugging his kids.

        Fortunately, the text message also gave the people who didn't want to delve too deeply an out, stating that it was just a new reality inside the source code to paralell the narrative reality. But I and others in this blog have delved deeply into story and left us all to ponder the possibilities and make this a favorite...

    • DL-SF

      Well, we know that the 8 minute rule is broken twice, where Coulter continues to live AFTER the train blows up. So, there world clearly continues on. He only returns to his original reality when he DIES in the new one--Rutledge is clearly wrong about the 8 minutes. Of course, how would he know? Every time Coulter goes back, the train explosion flings him back. BUT, after he stays beyond the 8 minutes, Rutledge should have known what was going on.

  • Aaron Larios

    In regards to how the Source Code project works it is interesting to point out that if all the information available to Colter is derived from the last 8 minutes of Sean’s consciousness and nothing more then he wouldn’t be able to perform actions or experience details like questioning passengers towards any truthful conclusions or getting off the train to visit a mens room Sean had never visited or at least not visited in the last 8 minutes of his life. Colter would have stepped off the grid so to speak and this fact as Colter points out early in the film when amazed by the level of detail in what he then believes to be a simulation offers credence to what this movie is really about.
    Source Code is a movie about alternate realities not the afterlife or dreams. Each scenario in which Colter’s consciousness inhabits Sean’s body creates a diverging timeline of events or alternate reality from the central narrative. The character Dr. Rutledge who, as as an audience member we can assume is the most knowledgeable about the workings of Source Code eludes to this fact during his conversation with Colter shortly after Colter becomes aware of his own death in the narrative. Speaking to the point that even if Colter would try and contact him while in the Source Code he would be contacting another version of Rutledge not the one in the narrative.
    The question of what happens to Sean’s consciousness each time Colter’s is implanted in his mind is never fully addressed. Is Sean’s consciousness still in his mind, supressed only to return once Colter has left the alternate reality and returned to the narrative or is it wiped into obscurity by Colter’s consciousness each time? Interestingly a few of Colter’s trips away from the narrative immediately after testing Rutledge’s patience and Rutledge orders Goodwin to no longer give Colter breaks repeatedly sending him back time after time are given a yadda, yadda, yadda treatment and there’s no way we could no if all those trips ended with the death of Sean’s body. Maybe Colter took a break in one of those trips and just walked off the train. In the sequence in which Colter confronts the bomber for the first time he is shot but doesn’t necessarily die, in fact he’s alive enough to roll over and watch the train explode before being yanked back into the narrative. Will Sean’s conciousness return in that timeline? Wake up from a 3 month coma with no recollection of why he was shot in a parking lot alongside the woman he loves.
    The ending and it’s controversial text message can be explained as thus; Colter departs the narrative with the help of Goodwin and enters the mind of Sean creating the final alternate reality of the movie. Colter must believe to some degree that he has in fact been creating alternate realities otherwise he would have never bothered sending the text message at all. It turns out he’s right. During the freeze frame scene after Colter’s 8 minutes are up his life support in the narrative is terminated and in that moment the consciousness of Colter having not been pulled back into the narrative beforehand and with no body to return too after becomes a fixed part of that final reality. The main narrative or central reality of the film is over at that point. The film continues for the first time following the events of an alternate reality and it’s in this reality that Goodwin receives the text message about the thwarted train bombing.
    The only questions I was left with as a viewer are; what happens to Goodwin in the narrative, is she court martialed and imprisoned for her act of compassion, and if Sean’s consciousness was only being supressed in these alternate realities will aspects of him begin to emerge in the future of the final reality? If you’ve ever seen any other tv shows or movies involving time travel or alternate universes they’re all a little messy but this film isn’t nearly as bad as some and it’s worth saying very entertaining.

    • http://www.fuckherrightinthepussy.com 808ALLDAY

      Aaron, you hit the spot! The way you explained the freeze frame scene was on point! So the ending scene was actually the alternate reality, not the initial central reality. That's the only part I got confused and you actually made me understand that ending. Thanks. I just hope that Colter finds Goodwin in the alternate reality and explain to her about everything. She would have a shocking reaction.

  • CtSpartan

    First of all i just want to say that the movie was brilliant and the only thing stopping it from being perfect was the time after the freeze frame which causes alot of confusion but regardless of what the director's intentions where on how it should be interpreted for me there are only two possible options :

    1) There are only two main realities, the first is the narrative reality where the bomb attack happened, source code worked, second bombing was averted and Coulter's life support ends. The second reality is where Coulter saves the day, calls his dad, freeze frame occurs, which means he lives on in Sean's body after his life support ends in reality 1. The only plot hole here is that Coulters actual body is still in the lab in that reality which for me does not stick.

    2) The source code works, second crisis stopped and Coulter's life support ends. Once this happens he dies and what happens after the freeze frame is his purgotory/afterlife/heaven where he saved the day thus meaning source code did not create other physical realities but instead the second reality beng Coulters afterlife...kinda like 'Lost'. The plot hole here is that his reflextion at the end should of been of himself, the text isnt that important as its his heaven where he saved the day and all that.

    For me i agree with all of you that wished the film had ended with his life support/freeze frame or at least with his reflextion being himself as that would mean he did his job and died with this women he met who was a stranger but fell in love with. I think that its open to the individual to take it how they best enjoy it, i beleive the director's intention was actually multiple realites but didnt quite achive it in concrete which allows my second theory to come into play and thats what i will take from it as i feel its much more heartwarming and settling on the mind just like at the end of inception when i see the totem rock in the last second which means he is not in a dream as it never rocked in the dream worlds.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton


    I think it's great that we have some different ideas over the ending - but can anyone fully explain their "heaven theory"?

    A lot of folks are saying that it would be a perfect heaven ending if he didn't see Sean in the reflection at the end.

    Trouble is, he does...

    Not ruling it out, but it seems like a very visual way of the director giving us a clue to the fact that it's the same reality as before the kiss.

    • Ryry67dude

      I believe that in his transition, he still believes to be alive and believes to be Sean.

      Just my idea...

  • simmo

    I see lots of people wishing it had ended at the freeze frame - that this would have been more emotionally satisfying. Whilst I agree that this would have been a poignant ending, I think it is wrong to describe the actual ending as some kind of Spielbergian sop to the happily-ever-after brigade.

    The ending was not contrived, or unlikely. In fact, given the rules set up in the film, it made perfect sense, and you could be forgiven for saying that if it had *not* happened, it would have been inconsistent. Perhaps the director/writer should be congratulated for being able to portray a genuinely happy ending *without* having to contrive it - one that is unexpected yet completely in tune with the world he has created.

    Personally, I didn't even see the ending as particularly happy. The point of it for me was to illustrate exactly what had happened - i.e. that he had ended up in an alternate reality.

    • Jasphoenix

      here here

  • Rama2340

    I've been reading tons of explanations, but I guess I still have Inception stuck in my mind, because I can't shake the idea that all "alternate dimensions" are merely the dying illusions of a battered hero, and that the source code is not a parallel reality generator, but a computer program harnessing the "afterglows" of those already dead.

  • Skateblind

    Their is no paradox concerning Coulters consciousnesses, as they are not duplicate and therefore seperate and unique. The future alternate reality(the last one) Coulter has had different experiences and different memories, so in my opinion there is no paradox. He is in a different body and is also in a different mental state to the other Coulter lying in the box.

    • Skateblind

      I find in art people often put there own interperation into something and even make up things the artist/writer did not include. Heaven, there is nothing in the film about it and everything in the film points to alternate realities using physics/meta physics. People believing there is some religous meaning in the film are merely reflecting their own thoughts or beliefs and not something that was in the film itself.

  • Mario P

    Hmm. It's pretty clear that if Stevens becomes Sean (in the new parallel world created after Goodwin turns Stevens’ life support off) something bad must have happened to Sean in that parallel world. In that (final) parallel world, Stevens himself was still killed in action two months earlier, so in effect he’s come back to life in Sean’s body in the parallel universe (but with his deformed body – and presumably another mind? – also waiting for a mission in the alternate reality’s lab).

    As to the question, why isn't Sean in the parallel world too, as himself? Maybe he's effectively been erased by quantum physics (you can’t have two 'particles' in the same quantum state - Pauli Exclusion Principle) or something like that? In the ‘real’ world, Sean, Christina and all the others die (on the real train); so, in this parallel world, where the train doesn’t blow up, Sean should be there too, surely – and not just as a body? The only explanation that works is that Sean’s consciousness gets ‘erased’ from all the parallel universes because it’s been ‘occupied’ by Stevens. Which is, don't you think, kind of creepy?

    I originally thought the film-makers had just glossed over this loose end, or maybe even overlooked it; but Jones' own reported comments (in Boston) contradict that - there's MEANT to be this moral ambiguity in the film: by occupying Sean, is Stevens a murderer? I don't think most viewers will work it all out, or care too much, especially at one viewing? But we have to remember one thing here: if Stevens DOESN'T save the train in the alternate reality, Sean dies anyway. So it's not quite murder, is it?

    My problems come from other quarters... For instance, the basic premise is weak: replaying memories in one brain by hooking it up to another brain is a bit like playing a video tape or DVD – you can’t create NEW information from it, or explore things that Sean wouldn’t know. The notion that you enter some parallel dimension.... that’s a pretty big leap, even for science fiction - though no more so than time machines, I suppose.

    The bigger flaw is that if Stevens only has half a brain, he wouldn’t be all that sharp, would he, in reality or in alternate reality? He’d be rather confused, and pretty slow on the uptake to say the least… Also, the research guys in the ‘real’ world do seem to know a lot about the alternate world of the Source Code even though it hasn't been used (i.e. no one has ever been 'sent' there before) (... or maybe they have?).

    Okay, it’s just a film… but actually, for me, a ‘logical’ or internally consistent interpretation of the film (if that’s what you want) is that what we see is a crazed hallucination in the (pretty much fully functional) brain of a war casualty being kept alive in a special ops facility. Stevens uses the memories of the dead Sean to create a complex fantasy, the 'alternate reality' we witness, where he can make up with his dad and fall in love, be a hero, and live happily ever after… Wouldn't you?

    Mario P

    • capnpaco

      I don't buy that it's a hallucination; I think the alternative reality NEEDS to be the answer, or there is no way that the source code program could work, and no reason for Colter to be kept alive the special opts facility in the first place. Like you mentioned, if he's just exploring Sean's short-term memory, he can't possibly find the bomber, because Sean didn't know who the bomber was. Thus Colter wouldn't be able to get any new information within the Source Code; at best he would be making things up and speculating, and his conclusions wouldn't be true in the "real" world.

      • Rob

        How do you know that Sean didn't know who the bomber was?

        In my mind, the suspension of disbelief part is that this program is a REALLY good simulation that is great at extrapolating and predicting what people will do based on limited knowledge of them and can create a very acurate world from that info. Maybe Sean subconsiously knew that the bomber was suspicious. Maybe Sean had seen the white van earlier and could connect the dots in the simulation.

        Who knows. Seems more likely to me than the alternate universes and multiple Colters and Sean getting consumed even if he survives the crash.

  • jesse

    Hey Brad!
    I'm just a little confused about one thing that happened a bit before the ending. You know how Colter dies supposedly in the "real" world with the war. I know they had his body but how was he talking to Colleen and Dr. Rutledge if he IS dead in "reality"? How was he the one going to the Source Code back and forth. I know this was probably answered in the film somewhere, I saw a late night show and I really regret it about now because the film did not have my full atention. Can you please answer my question, it would mean a lot. Big fan as always!

    • Rob

      Colter wasn't fully dead yet. He maintained brain activity and could be kept alive in the tank they show multiple times. He was hooked up in such a way that they could transmit sound and visual input directly into his brain and also recieve output from him in the form of text as shown at the very end.

      • jesse

        Thank you very much! that clarified a few things for me very nicely!

        I've been doing research about this topic and I don't know if you've seen this but I found this on Youtube. It's a video about Duncan Jones talking about the movie and even the ending. Please let me know what you think after viewing it. SPOILER ALLERT!

  • sun-hawaii

    I haven't seen the film and that sounds like a good thing as the end seems confusing and I hate movies that creates more questions at the very end. It's a dissatisfied feeling. Just watching the discussion it seems a combo of Quantum Leap and Back to the Future. The one were doc is explaining that the future Biff went in time and created an alternative universe, the one that Biff is king of the world and that Marty has to go back so that the timelime vanishes and the 'old' or current one exists. Except that this movie, in changing the past creates different time lines, like the one that the bomb did not go off and everyone in the non-bomb now believes it never did since it does not exist in their past. Like Time Cop where every time Van Damm(sp) ret'd his bosses had no memory of what he did in the past because all their memories were then altered becuz of his actions and only Van Damm remembered. He was the active player and therefore he was unaffected or immune, otherwise he would forget why he went back or what he was doing in his recent time trip.

  • Bill The Dustbin Man

    Lovely simple film. Reminds me of so many great stories from the likes of the Twilight Zone, through JG Ballard and Jacobs Ladder. Throw Brainstorm in for good measure.
    To hell with the ending and trying to figure it out. The film should have faded to black after the frozen kiss and everyone frozen in happiness. A man thus creating his own moment of bliss for his moment of death. Very cool and a much stronger way to end a great story.
    The alternative ending was just at the whim of some young inexperienced Hollywood executive no doubt.

  • steve vigliotti

    The only problem I have with the ending is that Coulter is sent to live the last 8 minutes of Sean's life (before Sean dies in the train explosion). But since Coulter prevents the explosion and saves all those people...where's the real Sean? He would have saved him too, no? Why id everyone on that train survive except Sean?

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

      My understanding is that Sean is "deleted" or "overidden" everytime Coulter dimension jumps. He is essentially killed.

      The science isn't fully understood or explained so there's not really anymore understanding than that I don't think.

  • Andy

    The 'original' reality is the origin of the source code and activating it creates a new parallel reality. With each subsequent activation of the code another reality is created. In each of these Colter fails to succeed in identifying the bomber and is returned back to the original 'source' reality. This means that those alternates must continue to play out with a blown up train and later on a detonated dirty bomb as no one in those realities is still seeking the bomber, as Colter has returned to the source reality. Colter, in the penultimate reality, discovers the bomber's identity, returns to the source reality and the bomber is caught. When he goes into the final created reality and stops the train bomb and captures the bomber himself he is then 'locked into' the final reality by Goodwin who terminates his body in the source reality, thus preventing him returning. The text he sends is received by Goodwin in the same reality which Colter now exists within, where he inhabits Fentress' body as 'the new me'. The body of Colter at the source code lab also exists in this reality but is currently not active because there is no requirement, however Goodwin now knows that it does work. BUT in all the other realities that were created both bomb's did go off, except in the source reality where only the train bomb did and then the bomber was caught.

    This means that if the source code needs to be activated in the future of the reality that Colter now lives in, in the body of Fentress, there will be 2 Colter consciousness'.

    The problem I had with the film is that the ludicrousness of the logic was not executed clearly enough to be followable as the text was perceived to have been received by Goodwin in the source reality. This would not be possible because Colter has not returned to that reality to be able to affect it.

    Unless texts can be sent across parallel realities which is not logic to the film as Colter always has to come back to source to tell what he has learn't.

    The text is definitely received in the the new final reality in which Colter inhabits Fentress as Colter's body is shown alive in the tank. Goodwin killed him in the source reality.

    Overall it is a silly, dull film which utilises an excessively convoluted plot to masquerade as an intelligent thought provoking sci-fi in exactly the same trite manner as Inception. It is impossible to execute such ridiculous deliberately over complicated 'ideas' so dramatically seriously without coming across as load of horse crap dressed up as intelligent. 2001 employs much simpler but more abstract ideas with far greater success and certainly more intelligent thought provocation.

    • DL-SF

      I think you got the movie-logic right and I think the plot was complex but certainly not convoluted. It was consistent within its own logic. Dull? I can't believe you thought that.

      I love that the audience wasn't spoon-fed simple, clear, expository paint-by-numbers explanations. Everything's there. If people confuse the email message as being in the original reality of Coulter's, well, they are not paying attention.

      It's unlikely that Coulter would go through Source Code to Fentress in the last reality Coulter finds himself in. If you recall from the beginning, Coulter was specially matched to Fentress because their "neuronal structures" (or some such) were a close match, which we're told is very, very rare. Train didn't explode. Fentress's dead brain not accessible. No Source Code option for Coulter (since finding another match is unlikely). Interesting moral dilemma for the project though, in terms of what to do with "almost dead" Coulter...

  • Luke Edwards

    I just thought I'd add something... I agree with Brad's interpretation completely 100%, but I wanted to address something that somebody on here said about Colter's consciousness being in two places at once by the end of the film. I disagree.

    Let me explain, but it is a bit complicated... In my opinion, the consciousness that lives in Sean in the final alternate reality is a consciousness that was expelled from the dying body of Colter within the source code (the reality in which the film's narrative is rooted). Once Colter's consciousness left that reality, it spun off into its own reality stream.

    In this 'new' reality stream, Colter's physical body still exists in the incubator, yes, but his consciousness is not the same one that now inhabits Sean, largely because Colter's incubated mental state is pre-source code in this new 'reality stream' while his other post-source code consciousness now exists as an autonomous entity within Sean.

    Theoretically speaking, once they wire up Colter's incubated brain into a new source code scenario in this new 'reality stream', the same thing would simply happen again (i.e. Colter's consciousness would just keep jumping to different realities, creating new parallel universes, creating more post-source code consciousness states, etc.).

    None of this has any bearing on the independent nature of each of Colter's consciousnesses, as they reside within their own respective realities in some unique and differentiated form. In essence, they become disembodied consciousness states. In some respects, it's possible that some of Colter's consciousnesses may be co-existent within certain realities, but they are not interdependent. One does not depend upon the other to exist. For that reason, it's not a significant narrative flaw in my view.

    I guess my point is, even if Colter's body exists and Sean Fentress's body exists in the final alternate reality scenario, it doesn't necessarily mean they share the same consciousness. I hope that's easy to understand. It's very clever, if you think about it. It basically means that as soon as the source code is switched on in one reality, Colter's consciousness will simply exist infinitely and indefinitely in some form in another reality, replicating itself in different forms, in more widely varying multiple universes you can shake a stick at. Interesting thought eh?

  • Andy

    The fact remains that Source Code is not very clever, it is just deliberately complicated and convoluted. The fact remains that casting the science to one side as it really makes very little difference how the code works the film is a whole load of junk cliche's. Militaristic patriotism, an instantaneous romance, a cliche bomber plot, and a happy ending. Just as with Inception the deliberate twisting of the mechanics of 'what is going on' is simply a diversion from the dross that is playing out. Comparing it to Hitchcock is both outrageous and insulting.

  • Pavel

    My point of view.
    1. Goodwin unplug Stevens but his brain still living as the Dr. explain that we are not imediately death and Stevens making happy endings before really die.
    2. Stevens find way to solve riddle and he find channels to connect from parallel world to real world ” Illy has a red robe. In hands she has 5 cards” this is simullation to connect two world. He rechange time because see last scene didn’t start from same position he start more minutes before. Et the and Steven is still in castle and Christina and Forest in real world still live. They are watching how big instalation of paralel world.

  • Clay

    Wow... all of this parallel world concepts...must come from some sort of previous knowledge information that I am not aware of... Let me just throw this out... Maybe I am completely off base... But lets just say for argument... That Rutledge honestly does not understand the true power of his invention... In my opinion Sean died period. He had to die to allow for the process to begin in the first place... Stevens conscience was attached to Sean's body only after his death... I think all of the "rules" of source code were inaccurate... Once Steven's was on a trip he was able to glean new information... He was able to change the future... Just one world... He continues to go in again and again, but never really changes the overall outcome til the last two trips in. The time when the girl gets off the train is negated because on the subsequent trip back in, she is again killed thus making the trip where she lived moot... The next to the last trip when the 2nd bombing is averted is also negated by the last trip when he actually disarms the bomb and tells authorities about the bomber and handcuffs him to the train... He sends the text...just as proof that the last trip even took place... because since the train bombing was averted the source code was actually never used... He was never turned off... because in the changed reality, none of the trips ever happened... Therefore he is being kept alive in the lab.... but his mind is still experiencing the last trip...since his current memory has yet to be "wiped clean" by Goodwin since she is no longer aware that he has even been used yet....

    Sorry that is how I saw it...

  • Ella

    I have just seen the film tonight, and i mostly go with the alternate reality option. I can go with a new reality being created each time, with the final one being the 'saves th day' 'gets the girl' 'overwrites Seans identity' that has been discussed. I have two questions/ unknowns though.

    1. If the final reality has two Colters, one in Sean and one in life support ready to be used for the next crisis. When that crisis happens, if Colter behaves in the same way ie: saves the day, inhabits a new '8 min donar' 'lives on.. then there will be a reality in which there are three Colters(Sean, new donar and Colter in life support). This then could continue on and on until there is a reality in which many crisis have been averted but many Colters exist in 'donar' bodies. This is a very odd thought and a little disturbing.Perhaps they could all meet for tea!!

    2. And finally, and this is something that doesnt seem to have been discussed here and which kind of upsets the alternate reality theme. Why, at the end, when he comes to the big shiny egg scuplture thing(Cloud Gate?)have we seen this before? This is a future that neither Sean or Colter have experienced, and yet it appears in several 'reality jumps' during the film. This only seems to fit with the alternate ending, ie: he dies at the freeze moment, and he creates this moment because he wants it.
    Can anyone square the 'preview' of the future with the alternate reality scenario?
    Colter/Sean says something like.. "Do you believe in fate?" because he has already seen this moment somehow? He feels he was meant to be here?

    Loving all the discussions btw.. i like a movie to get my teeth into

    • Ashlee

      Just to give my two cents on my interpretations of your two points:

      1. I think because it is an alternate reality we have no way of knowing whether the Colter in the lab that is there to enter the Source Code will behave at all like the Colter that has inhabited and exists in Sean's body. Therefore, I'm guessing that we have no way of knowing if there will ever be another Colter to inhabit another body. But, if the Colter from lab in this alternate reality ended up in the whole "save the day, get the girl" scenario again as you described, then he would have created his own alternate reality. So, essentially, there would only ever be two Colters in one reality at one time. Does that make any sense?

      2. I'm having a lot of trouble interpreting this too! I don't understand why he continues to have these flashes of the Cloud Gate when in our reality he has never experienced it and in the alternate reality he has yet to experience it. The flashes that he has between Source Codes are supposed to be flashes of information that he has received from traveling between realities so I still don't know why the Cloud Gate appears since he never encountered it any Source Code trip.....probably the most interesting and confusing part of the whole movie.

  • Donna

    Ella ... love your idea of them all getting together for "Tea". I also didn't remember seeing the silver reflecting egg before ... and couldn't understand the "do you believe in fate" ... and thought I'd need to sit through another viewing of it to watch it more closely. But, I'm still trying to figure out how he got Goodwin's cell phone number to send her the text. Is it something else I missed?

  • max

    I think when Steven's dies in reality A his mind is permanently transported to reality B. Maybe his body in reality B is never used since they never had a chance to try the source code program out and he is never able to find out who he really was concluding he is put to rest and "everything is ok. Also since they will never be able to find a perfect match like Sean F that has the same physical attributes they terminate him. I'm sure he was able to find Goodwin's email off of the internet like how he was able to call Dr.Rutledge and his dad at the same base.

  • Ashlee

    The part that I'm focusing on has to do with Christina, which I feel affects the rest of the interpretations of the ending of the movie. In one of Colter's journeys into the Source Code he gets off of the train to follow the man with motion sickness and in so doing gets Christina off of the train. We watch as the train blows up in the background and eventually Colter gets run over by a train when he falls on the tracks. As he is jolted back he mentions to Vera Farmiga's character that his last trip to the Source Code wasn't a complete fail because he saved one life: Christina's, he got her off of the train. But, then when they check her information on the computer, it still reports that she's dead. Thus, in the end, when Colter captures the bomber and deactivates the bomb, he doesn't save all of the people on the train in our reality, just in this alternate reality. So, essentially, I'm agreeing with your interpretation of movie and just providing another piece of evidence. It's clear that through this little scene that we are told that no one who died on that train or Colter can ever truly exist in reality but could live on in alternate realities.

    • Clay

      Thought about this aspect as well... I am still going with the future was change and only one reality... When her name was checked after the trip back where he gets her off the train.. It was just a list... the train wreck was massive.. remember even the bomber tried to just plant his wallet on the train to make it look like he died on the train... My thought on that was... She bought a ticket to a destination beyond the place where the train wrecked... therefore she was assumed dead and ended up on the list. If Steven's had not gone back in again right after that, and again left her on the train to blow up she might have indeed turned up as being saved...

  • Chris

    I don't believe that the alternate dimension theory is quite accurate. My theory is similar but slightly different. When trying to understand this film I asked myself "what is the source code?" Essentially it is a computer running a very sophisticated piece of software - the last eight minutes of someone's life. A complete virtual reality. Everything seems real right down to the most minute detail. Now who is Colter? Colter is the user of the source code. He can jump in and experience it as if he was playing the most realistic virtual reality video game. How does he use it? By directly connecting his mind to the computer (the source code) he can experience the program as if he was actually living it - but he's not - He's essentially playing a game where he has the power to do what ever he wants and his decisions and actions effect the reality. And how can he enter this world and have this much freedom to manipulate it? He can do that through his avatar - Fentress. The final time when Colter runs the program he decides that he's going to save everyone. What's that going to do? That's going to break the program because after eight minutes there's nothing else. This is where the debate starts... I think the shot where we see Colleen terminate Colter's life is the last scene that is actual reality. Everything we see after that is happening in the source code. When we see the freeze in the movie that symbolizes the end of the program. When the world unfreezes we are now in a reality that Colter has built for himself. A reality where everyone is alive and the source code has yet to be tested... but this is essentially just a new computer program. One that is either playing out in the mind of a dying man... or an actual NEW piece of software that has now merged with the original source code to create a new reality within cyberspace. They were never opening rifts in time or space or travelling to different dimensions. They were simply running a piece of software, a virtual reality if you will, with a very dedicated user. Once the program is finished, that's it. The reality is the train still blew up, everyone still died, the bomber was still caught, Colleen's probably going to jail and Colter is still DEAD. Now what happened to his consciousness? His mind? His spirit? I think it merged with the source code to create a new reality that lives in a computer somewhere... and Colter believes where he is is the real world. But it's not. So I guess one could argue that it is a different dimension/reality but it's one that exists in a computer or in the last fleeting moments of a dying man's brain.

    • Julian

      ^This. He's got it right

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton


      I fully respect your intrepretation and I think it's brilliant that there are so many interpretations of this film.

      I think you're reading of the film can conceivably hold up until the ending. "I think it merged with the source code to create a new reality that lives in a computer somewhere… and Colter believes where he is is the real world."

      I'm not convinced there's any evidence to support this theory at the end. The very fact that he continues to survive suggests that it's a dimension that continued past the failing point. If it was software and Coulter was turned off - how does he continue to live? To state that it's a reality that lives in a computer somewhere is very vague and I don't think it's supported by anything.

      It's not neccessarily incorrect - but it's got nothing backing it up as far as I can see. It's a bit of a cop out, like the "it's all heaven" type reading - those sort of answers cannot be proved wrong because they are so expansive. Much like real life.

      Just because they can't be proved wrong doesn't make them correct. All signs, to me, point to alternate realities - pretty much exactly as Brad has laid out.

      • chris

        Thanks for the reply Andy. I see your point I still think my idea is sound. I should have mentioned this in my last post... You know when people talk about near death experiences and they say their life passes before their eyes in an instant? I believe that's the same case here. How time passes in our world is irrelevant. What may seem like an entire lifetime to Coulter in HIS new reality may only happen in a heart beat in OUR reality. The same theory could apply if he was in a computer somewhere. He could have an entire life happen in the time it takes someone to walk from his body to the computer and turn it off. There's nothing to suggest that time couldn't behave differently in Coulter's new reality.

  • Dennis

    I think that people may be overlooking the fact that this is a matter of perspective. A reality is a specific person's perception of the world around them. It is difficult to bring religion into this, but in the main time stream, Stevens IS dead.

    Steven's alternate reality seems to be a sort of eutopia, a posthumous experience. In the real world, the original train exploded, killing Sean and all the passengers. However, the source code read the past and prevented the additional attack. In Steven's new reality, he prevented both explosions.

    It is difficult to bring movies such as Inception into this, but if anyone has seen both, remember when Cobb explains that the subconscience creates the people and setting? This would explain the second reality. Steven's brain is living in his new world. Everything around him is created by his own subconscience, including the alternate version of himself. People from the initial time stream are not actually present in his new reality.

    This brings in the depressing, but possible subject that asks the question: what is reality? Instead of there being infinite realities, could there be none? Are people just creating manifestations of others in their own head?

    This was the only way that I could make sense of this movie. Steven's death sparked some sort of "heaven" where he could occupy another's body. His brain created additonial manifestations, including one of himself, to fill in the gaps.

    Does anyone agree or disagree?

  • Glide

    I agree exactly with your interpretation, and frankly was unsure why people had so much trouble interpreting it in a straightforward way, as well as why they disliked the ending so much.

  • http://www.mikelopez.com/ Mike Lopez

    Here's my short interpretation...

    - There is no alternate reality
    - Colter died when Goodwin pulled the plug
    - Sean, Christina and everybody else in the train remain dead

    All events occurring inside the source code happens inside Colter's brain and thus terminates when he died.

    Cogito Ergo Sum - I think therefore I am. But when the plug was pulled, he no longer thinks (even the afterglow would have ended) and therefore the entire reality (alternate or not) ends.

    I consider this more of like the Matrix in which nothing in the Matrix is real.

  • http://www.mikelopez.com/ Mike Lopez

    Oh sorry, I forgot...

    What about the text message and everything that happens after the time freeze? Well, I guess it's just fantasy or maybe Colter's mind (note: mind not brain) continues to live on and think therefore he continues to exist.

    - Mike

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

      Hi Mike.

      So what you're saying is that 90% of the movie (up to the time freeze) is about Coutler's path to death and then the ending is fantasy or Coulter's dead mind?

      I'm enjoying people's interpretations of the ending - but several people seem hell-bent on ignoring it. A lot of people would prefer the film to end at the time freeze, but it doesn't - there is an ending after it.

  • m1

    "Colter went to heaven."

    Yeah, ONE problem. How would Goodwin have received the text?

  • m1

    Wow, I just found a plot hole:

    In the movie, Colter's dad says that the only remain of his son was a pile of ashes. If that was all that was left, how did the other half of his body get to the source code?

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

      Good spot - but just because Coulter's Dad was given a pile of ashes doesn't mean they were Coulter's.

      Any military that would lie about a solider's fate and tie his conciousness to a machine without telling the family would surely pass on fake ashes?

      • m1

        Ah. Okay, sounds reasonable enough. I wasn't exactly sure how the military handles situations like this, but I guess I could buy that explanation.

  • Yates_111

    Whenever Colter commutes between his missions and the real world, there are visions of Christina and Cloud Gate. What do they mean? Colter can forsee his future in whichever reality he's going to be in? Or did that already happen?

  • Firefly

    One conscious in two body?!?! Here is my take on this! I might be off but i try, might solve some questions!

    Let's assume that every time he goes back he creates an alternate / parallel reality! Let's call the original reality (A)! So when he leaves reality (A) and goes back in time he creates a reality (B,C,D ...etc.). In reality (B,C,D...) he also have his alter. He has in his dying body (B,C,D...) his conscious (B,C,D...) and at the same time he has his conscious from reality (A) in Sean's body (B,C,D...).
    In the end his body dies in reality (A) but his conscious never returned to reality (A)! His conscious (A) stuck/ escaped to reality ("H") into Sean's body. At the same time his alter body and conscious is still waiting to be used in Source Code reality (H)! My question would be where is Sean's conscious? Is it kicked out every time Colter enters his body? Or maybe Sean's conscious from reality (B,C,D...) goes into Colter body in reality (A) and in the end Sean's conscious (H) dies in Colter's body (A).
    Anyway, sorry for the A,B,C things! I am sorry if it's confusing, English is not my mother language! The movie was great and raises good conversations here :)!

  • lesleyan123

    I wish the film had explained how Coulter was able to enter Sean's consciousness .. I mean given that Sean was blown to pieces in the original reality, there wasn't going to be much left of him (unlike the bits that were left of Coulter). Either a) Was Sean in some way special - had he done some scientific experiment so they had a map of his brain or something in advance! Or b) was the source code so smart that it could pick anyone at all for Coulter to "become"?
    If the answers b) then the ending isn't so cute-n-fluffy coupley happily ever after. Now the person in control of Coulter has the power to change any history they like (or rather, don't like!). Hmmm, I wonder how long before it ends up in the hands of the powerful and unscruptulous. Poor Coulter! (at least in one reality).

  • Sam

    First off, i can't just see the alternate/new parallel reality as others have because i just can't see the movie director having the source code create 8 different realities(for the sake of ascertaining info). Literally, if this was true, every time the source code was activated simply a new parallel/alternate universe was created, and certain people have 8 different realities playing out. For example, the guy who sits on the bench after going to the bathroom would have 6 realities where he watches the bomb explode from the bench, one where some random dude stalks and beats him up yada yada, and another where he doesnt have anything unusual happen to him at all during his day...Makes almost zero sense to me. I will come back to this alternate reality theory.
    Also, this heaven thing becomes irrational as well, since Colter sends Goodwin the text which she reads/interprets and is clearly not "Colter experiencing heaven". Clearly the information is ascertained by Colter using the machine, and sent through Sean's body around the time of his original death, but in order to make this movie he had to die once, even though Colter inherits his body and changes the past to making everyone live. The ending shows that Goodwin has had thoughts (along with the long pause when asked if she believes in alternate versions of herself) about the potential effect of the Source Code. On the other hand, Dr. Rutledge strictly believes that the past cannot be changed by activating the machine. And it becomes Goodwin and Colter vs. Dr. Rutledge.
    Although this Source Code Machine is unthinkable, for the sake of this movie OKAY, its a machine that links a brain (from a man in a coma/with only half his body too) into a body that recently died. The boss believes that the machine plays out 8 minute intervals before death, but really it jumps to that 8 minute memory point until the death of This New Person(Sean/Colter), thus creating a new reality of the past. This is displayed by him elongating the time frame on three occasions: run over by a train, getting shot, and then the last one where he lives happily ever after. Obviously the first two happened quickly enough that Goodwin didnt notice the time going past 8 mins. Think about how the computer system wasn't working properly after he gets nailed by a train, well after the 8 min explosion. Then for the gunshot death, he has the vital information to capture the villain so Goodwin and her boss are distracted by this news. Since the source code runs until the death of the user (Sean/Colter), he ultimately decides how long the reality created by the machine goes on for. His mind, after several trials albiet, believes he can change the past and thus derigs the bomb, handcuffs the killer, texts Goodwin, kisses the girl and walks off the train to live a new life it seems. This is where it all comes together. While creating his own new life, he also changes the past (from the beginning of the movie's standpoint) and since that reality has a different outcome (no train explosion) the Source Code isn't used again and Colter isn't awakened from his Coma according to Dr. Rutledge but Goodwin knows this all mustve happened because of his text. His mind is still trapped in Sean's body for the One and only reality that plays out, that's just the nature of the source code.
    Now yes there are some minor flaws to the movie (like all movies) like How did Colter get Goodwin's number? And if awakened again would there be 2 colter minds? (maybe goodwin realizes its power and somehow gets it shut down)
    While this entire movie is predicated upon a ridiculous machine that can transport this War Hero on life support's mind into a different mans body back in the past 8 mins before his death, its very hard to deny its entertainment and complexity...
    Even though i have yet to see anyone describe it quite as I see it, Clay from last week seems to have a similar view as mine. Is this off base, or do you guys agree?

  • Jacob

    Like the ending of the movie or not, you can't argue that it has got a lot of people talking about what it all meant. It reminded me a bit of when I would watch Lost on tv and we'd all jump on the board with more questions than answers after each episode. It would drive us nuts but I kind of liked that the creators didn't spoon feed us all the answers and let us think for ourselves.

  • ESB

    What am I mussing? If this was all a computer simulation, then how would it create parallel realities? I see it as just getting info to help catch the bomber in reality.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

      Hey ESB.

      The scientists outline the concept and rules of "Source Code" - but that doesn't make them correct. The scientists are wrong and the "Source Code" is in fact a tool for creating dimensions.

      It can't simply be a computer simulation based on Sean's last 8 minutes as too much of the story is out of his range. For example, the scene where Coulter interacts with the bomber and his van - this couldn't be in a computer simulation.

      It's a great testament to the director that he didn't spoonfeed the audience with the facts - we're all still discussing it.

  • MithunVaidya

    "Cloud Gate" sculpture ----
    One thing no one noticed is "Cloud Gate" sculpture...
    this sclupture resembled String Theory's multi dimension universe. IF you noticed "Cloud Gate" sculpture carefully, it seems to resemble Calabi curled up dimensions...in which there are 10-11 dimensions which are curled up.
    So the end scene of looking into "Cloud Gate" sculpture symbolise parallel universe in which the main cast of movie now resides.
    This is what i think...i may be wrong....:)

  • ian

    I agree with this. The time freeze was just the beginning of a Mobius strip twist. (and twist for the show). If anyone has watched Donnie Darko (another Jake Gyllenhall show) you would understand how it all fits in a closed loop with ambiguous realistic parts/events that somehow twists and twists logically with each successive event but cannot exist as a whole logical necklace of events in reality.

    The film does not have an obligation to end so typically at the time freeze. Sean was doomed to death, if not for the mission that Coulters had to embark on. When time froze, that was perhaps the beginning of the ambiguity of the show, in which the Source Code folds the reality like a Mobius Strip (this is after all a science fiction, with ambiguous quantum physics). If Coulter sent an SMS to Goodwin during the train ride, and it reached her only after his 'death' and saving the train from bombing, that shows that reality has forked differently in the river of time, and the 'present' Goodwin now receives the SMS because reality has now forked differently, it rejoins the past by showing the scene where the professor is discussing with his student about the crisis that needs to be created to make source code successful.

    This is a whole series of events that requires the mind to bend with the fork in the river of time, and invites the viewer to imagine that the fork of time has formed a separate reality in which it can be reconciled with the evening's reality in which there was no train accident. (notice when Goodwin walked into the office she was free of the police officers already and walked into the scientists office when he was embarking on the source code project because no train accident had begun yet.)

    Although the show would have been way more logical if it ended at the time-freeze, that would have been so so boring, like any typical hollywood show. Just the added ending makes the brain bend in so many more ways. Like this discussion here, which tries to add logic to a whole string of semi-logic.

  • Chirurgie

    Good movie and leaves a lot of food for thought if you care to analyse it. Here's my 2 pence:

    At beginning of movie, in this 'reality 1' we see Colter 1 (as I will call him) being 'activated' for the first time and used to investigate the train crash. Goodwin 1 tells him at some point, 'everything will be ok'.

    When he is on the train, he becomes Colter 2 in reality 2 (ie one in which he is in Sean's body). Of course he repeats this for (I think 7 times but exact number is uncertain) creating realities for Colter X in reality X.

    It is important to note that Colter does not automatically return to the Source Code after 8 minutes. He manages to stay longer when he chased after motion sickness guy and only returns when he dies (run over by the train). Ditto later when he (and Christina) dies by being shot by the terrorist. In rest of realities, he dies at minutes because the bomb on the train kills him.

    Each time he dies, his mind returns to reality 1. By end of movie, because he saves the train, Colter Z stays on in this 'new' reality Z. Naturally, despite his empty body being terminated back in reality 1, it does not affect reality Z. Should Colter Z die however, he will be dead, ie not returned to Colter 1 (which no longer lives).

    So at end of the movie, we see Goodwin Z looking at Colter Z+1's body, which has yet to be activated in reality Z.

    What is the real kicker is that, Colter Z emails Goodwin Z to tell Colter Z+1 in future that 'everything will be ok' allowing Colter Z+1 to go try avert whatever disaster he may be asked to do so and then form his own reality Z+1. Remember Goodwin 1 says same to Colter 1? That's coz reality 1 is NOT the first reality but one that existed after a previous Colter 0 has saved reality 0 and stayed behind in his 'newly created reality 1' and presumably told Goodwin 1 the same thing to tell Colter 1

    • Costaki

      Chirurgie this is the clearest explantion ive seen and I agree with it.

      The main sticking points I still have (after reading all the posts) are:

      1. What happens to seans mind when Colter comes to visit(many have mentioned this, i guess not so important)

      2. Why did he keep seeing the girl and the cloud gate sculpture every time he went back? I havent seen any reasonable explanation of this and i cant think of one. Is it because chronologically that happened previously? although in his realities it has never happened. Is he seeing something that happened in another reality? Is it some kind of weird de ja vou? none of that really sits well with me.

      3. Everything we are told about the afterglow and the 8 minutes is seemingly bullsh*t. Rutledge seems to know about the alternate realities when they are talking about the phone call. if he knows about the alternate realities does he just not care? is he only worried about his own reality? When they keep saying to him it doesnt matter, these people are all dead, shoot someone if you have to, he must know that he is shooting people for reals. Again this doesnt sit well with me. They really arent all dead at Rutlege knows it. They are however dead for Ratchet and Goodwin in their reality where the bomb has already blown up and they all die no matter what(the initial reality).

      The most disturbing part really with the 'happy ending' is that he now has to live this lie. Presumably when Christina figures out that he is not Sean (and she will very quickly when he knows nothing about his family, being a history teacher or his life) surely she will think he's lost his mind and ditch him. The happy ending really isn't a happy one. No-one is going to believe him, and he has to live out someone elses life. Will he feel bad about Sean at some point?

  • gachbash

    Good movie with good "logic" but in the last scene the professor should know that source code is working fine and better then that-source code can change reality.
    man mind can accept this change (no bomb) and still accept facts like source code was successful.
    i am not sure if i made my idea clear enough...
    i mean that our mind can accept reality changes without eliminating history fact...

  • Dark Anarchist

    I agree that this would have been better if left at the freeze frame, giving the watcher chance to let their minds wonder about reality and if it actually worked.

    If this was about alternate realities then how did Goodwin get the text, also how was it that she could remember what had happened but everyone else couldn't?

    This film is a perfect example of the film industry trying to be more intelligent than it actually is...


  • Chirurgie

    No, 'new Goodwin' of the alternate reality gets text at end of movie. But 'original Goodwin' knows because she got it from Coulter of previous 'crisis', one not shown in movie but resulted in the 'original reality' we saw at beginning of movie, which was actually itself an alternate reality!

  • Rishi

    I disagree. I was extremely happy to know that his life (what it seemed to him) continues instead of stopping or going to limbo. The part after they went to the big metalic jelly bean kinda confused me though, but was good nonetheless.

  • gachbash

    I have a question:
    Is The 8 minutes realities are based on the original one or on the last alternated one?

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGzeEhgyUg Andy Wilton

      They split off from the original timeline, each time, in the same spot.

  • Chirurgie

    As far as I can tell, it is based on 'original reality' (which itself is an alternate reality preceded by another crisis which created it, not shown to us audiences).

    Bear in mind they 'insert Coulter' into the last 8 minutes prior to the crisis but the scientist is wrong that it only lasts 8 minutes as it last 'forever' since the 2 times Coulter was off the train, he clearly stays beyond 8 minutes and only is 'forced to leave' when he dies (on the track and by being shot).

  • Sharon B

    Alternate realities--that's the answer, In the last reality we see, Coulter and Christina live happily ever after, BUT:
    poor Sean!

  • gachbash

    This movie is not a fairy tale and should be based on some kind of real logic and assumptions that we can analyze and try to understand.
    It is telling a story about an invention (a computer program called source code) that can leads to a change in present reality as a result of intervention in the past.
    Each 8 minutes episode is an execution of source code and leaves its results (trace) in the reality, creating an alternate reality which replaces (replaces and not coexists with) the one before.
    There is only ONE reality at a time.
    The idea of parallel realities (few or many disconnected realities existing in parallel) is in no way understandable and can not be accepted as a logic for a good movie of this type. If there are many realities existing in parallel , then they all create together ONE reality.
    each execution of source code start at the same point in the past (which is the last unchanged point of original reality before source code intervention) and from this point an alternate reality replaces the original.
    At the end of the movie the last alternate reality stays, creating an alternate present and future.

  • Knight

    The heaven/post-death theory cannot be true. This is because when a memory got accessed, it should only have the memory of what he saw in the 8 minutes.

    Every time Couter goes back, there were extra information added to the memory. The dead Sean would not have a memory of where the bomb is placed, how other people might react to his "different" actions. Let alone how the bomber has bombs in his van.

    You cannot change a memory of a person just by accessing it. So other two possibilities were that those extra information came from Couter's imagination (Similar to Inception) or he was sent back to alternate reality.

    The first is rejected by SMS to Goodwin upon the ending, thus latter must be correct.

    Hope this makes sense.

  • Dave

    I just want to share how I see the movie.
    Its like this:

    Source code turns on and sends Colter to another reality...

    -----Jake enters here-----8 minutes------ dies and goes back to his "alive consciousness" ------ but this alternate universe still goes on-------->>>

    and the same happens to all the other 6 universe, 6 times that he failed. The source code opens and make another parallel universe each time Colter enters Sean's body, leaves it and leaves the universe, but that universe still goes on.

    Now at the ending. There is no way for colter's consciousness to return to his "universe 1 body" cause its already terminated by Goodwin, so his consciousness remained in Sean's body, again this parallel universe ---- goes forward ----> now, i think if goodwin did not end colter's life in "universe 1" and just shuts off the source code. Colters consciousness would have returned after the 8 minutes to "universe 1", leaving Sean and Christina alive in "universe 7". -----> with Sean having his body back.

  • Daniel 1

    One question (the assumption is that the film is explained by the alternate univerese theory, as in the original post):

    Can someone please explain the faces and 'reflections' thing - what we see in each of the trips (alternate worlds) is a Colter's face on a man Christina believes to be Sean. This man sees a reflection of Sean's face whenever he looks in the mirror. Are we being told that Sean 'got' Colter's face at the moment of initiating the alternate reality (which clearly hasn't always been Sean's face in this reality (see ID photo) or, more properly, in the original single reality which now banched into the alternate one)? Or is it Sean's face that Christina (and all others in the train) see, while Colter's face is shown to us (film viewers) only as a cinematic effect - to evoke his feeling of confusion at the switch (an to be able to tel a cohernt story linking the Colter from the train and teh one from ths source code chamber)?

  • melissa

    just to add on to the list of evidence present in the film for the creation of alternate realities in the film.

    Recall that before his 8th mission in the source code, colter actually asked goodwin if she believed if she has another self, one that took on a different fork and never got divorced. That's really strong evidence to prove that Colter actually figured out how the sourcecode works, by creating alternate realities instead of recapturing the last 8 mins of sean's memories. And that's why he's so insistent and believed in going back to safe the world.

    love the movie, even better than inception!

  • Beamer26

    Could it be as simple as once Colter stopped the bomb and Goodwin pulled the plug, he figured he'd either be dead or time would continue and he'd be in real time in the real reality (7:26am or whatever)? So he sent the text thinking it may get to Goodwin as she's coming IN to work in real time. And then Goodwin does get the message because Colter is in real time as opposed to the source code. The other 7 times in the source code are just manifestations as Rutledge says, and just like Brad supplies, Colter's body is still in the lab, waiting for the "first" time in the source code. Instead of creating multiple alternate realities, it IS a rewriting of history, of sorts, but still leaving the time after Goodwin pulls the plug to be another reality- her getting arrested, blah, blah blah.

  • Rowan

    In one of the 7 previous visits to the source code, Coulter makes a phone call to ruttlidge or someone, we dont ever get to find out if that one worked or not?

  • Dethstarr

    My theory: (I believe the movie actually explains and proves the afterlife/heaven theory)

    The reason why alot of people are having a hard time understanding Source Code is because there trying to analyze it from the wrong perspective.

    1.Stevens is NOT in the body of Sean. Steven is in his own body

    2.Sean and the whole situation regarding the bomb is NOT REAL...It is a virtual world that has been created around Stevens conscious and/or the little 8 minute gap within Steven's mind and here why:

    A.Lets say that the whole situation about Sean and the bomb was real..then how the hell did they get a hold of Sean's consciousness if he blew up with the bomb??

    B. Lets say for some reason if was still possible for them to recover Sean consciousness after all, it still doesn't make sense because Sean had no way of knowing who the bomber was. On top of that, Stevens could only experience those 8 seconds from the perspective of Sean and clearly that didn't happen because every time Stevens died, he created a new realities of himself within one whole reality based on his individual choices. with leads me to my conclusion..

    That the world Stevens is experiencing is NOT the TRUE reality.Its actually a whole new reality( world) created by he help of Stevens consciousness and the Source Code.That is why at the end, Stevens says:

    ''If you're reading this email, then Source Code works even better than you and Dr. Rutledge imagined. He thought you were creating eight minutes of a past event. But you're not. You have created a whole new world''

    This also explains in one way why Stevens sees the face of Sean from the start because his reality, the projections and they way he experiences is all controlled to a certain degree. If they created all whole new reality for him then its highly possible that they can also control his SENSES within that reality aswell.Particularly his SIGHT.

    Now for me to further explain all this I have to go back for a moment and give you my definition of what consciousness is as simply as i can and here it goes as follows:

    1.Its an entity or something that's its aware of itself and knows its living

    2.Not only is it aware of itself, but also knows that its separate and different from everything else.

    Now where I'm trying to go with this is that the whole situation about the bomb/saving the world/Sean is all primarily based on those two principles.It was created to help Sean achieve consciousness within the world they have created for him. The reason why I make this conclusion is as follows:

    Let's say that that they were to create a world based on Sean's own memories and not the one mentioned in the movie, there will be a high probability that the project/mission would be a FAILURE because what will happen is similar to what happen to Cobb's wife in Inception. At some point within the reality, Stevens would have a hard time distinguishing whats REAL and what's not.Over time he would probably start to believe that the things that are happening really is happening and the LINE between whats REAL and whats FAKE starts to become blurred.

    The situation about saving the world/bomb/Sean is just a clever way of trying to ''wake up'' Stevens you could say within the reality they created for him. Its primary purpose was as follows..

    1''Wake him up''
    2.Give him a catalyst for him to continue with the ''mission''

    Remember guys that if anyone wanted to go back in time and change ''a past event'' they have to be aware of the fact that's whats happening in going on in another SPACE and TIME and is not really ''REAL'' you could say

    Another question alot of people might have as well is ''How is it possible for Stevens to find out who the bomber was''?

    That answer to that question is that I believe at the of day...not only do we have the ability to CREATE are own realities based on our individual actions but at the same time everybody else REALITY is also being shared with mines and vice versa for example...

    My reality(that one i am creating and projecting) + Everyone else reality = 1 Whole new reality combined

    This also explain how it was possible for Stevens to send the email/message to Goodwin because somewhere inside the world they created for him, there is a moment in SPACE and TIME in which both REALITIES (meaning the virtual and real) are connected and could influence each other. If that wasn't the case then there would be no possible way for Stevens to get in contact with the REAL world.

    So in other words the reason why Stevens was able to locate the bomb and stop it its because he had the help of everyone else's perspective in that situation plus his own.

    What people get confused is that Stevens is not creating different alternate realities separate from each other, he is creating different alternate realities within ONE WHOLE reality based on Stevens individual choices

  • Tele

    Real world:
    Colter dies because Goodwin turned off his life support. Goodwin probably got arrested after that for disobeying his boss. End of story.

    Alternate world: Colter lives in Sean body. Gets the girl. Sent text message to Goodwin. Goodwin received the text message.

    So, the ending scene was the alternate world. Not the real world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Suryateja-Vunnava/100001290987881 Suryateja Vunnava

    The movie and the ending are pretty simple enough for me. the source Code is a way of time travel ( though wrongly acknowledged by Dr,Rutledge as mere time re-assignment ). The proof is Dr.Rutledge accepts that he was paged early in the morning just before the bomb exploded, but, dismisses it to be done by Capt. Colter Stevens while inside the source code. Hence its not just a parallel or an alternate reality but a 'New Reality' created by altering a very important link in the chain of past events which if allowed to continue as they were would eventually lead to the narrative reality. That link here is averting the explosion. Or at least this is the ending with which i could sleep with peace after watching the movie,- "The entire present can be changed by altering the past"

    P.S: I am a fan of both Jake Gyllenhal and Michelle Monaghan. This is a very much awaited movie of mine and
    I love it.

  • thomaska92

    I'll have to admit that I haven't read the entire discussion here, but i've just seen the movie and there's one thing i can't understand:

    If we call the reality where they use his dead body in source code is "reality A", and the reality where he stops the bomb etc. inside the source code "reality b"

    Then what reality are we in just before the ending where we watch Goodwin recieve the text? Is it reality a or b? I would guess that it's reality b, since i guess you can't send a text into a parallel universe, but if i'm right, what happens in reality a? Has everyone on the train just died there, or is it unknown?

    Hope it makes sence.. :P

    • Dave

      To make it easier to understand, everytime they use the source code it makes another reality. not just B, it goes on and one like C D E F .... and so on.

  • Chirurgie

    IN reality a, ie one viewers watched Goodwin in most of the time, the train explosion was already the past but Colter saved the future explosions by catching the baddie.

    He continues to live in a reality b (but really like reality N+1, where N is number of times he was in Source Code)where Goodwin b received text from Colter a, explaining about Colter b, yet to be activated.

    Way I see it, Goodwin a has already received similar messages from a Colter -1 (ie before reality a) since she knew to say to him, 'Everything will be alright' which she must have received from previous Colter. So the 'reality a' is itself an alternate reality

  • thomaska92

    Ahhh, ok.

  • Kyle228

    I've been able to follow this whole story, but I'm confused.

    >Goodwin a has already received similar messages from a Colter -1 (ie before reality a) since she knew to say to him, 'Everything will be alright' which she must have received from previous Colter.

    When did Goodwin say this line? I've been all over the movie and I haven't heard this line. Was it when she appeared on screen or was it maybe some background voice over when Stevens was still on the train? Was it near the beginning or near the end?

    This is kinda driving me nuts. I'd like to confirm that the line is spoken, because that kinda shows that the director was able to think of the alternate reality idea a lot better than if he didn't add that line... (The original script apparently didn't have this catch phrase...)

  • Izatty

    I have the same question. I just saw the movie, so am late to the party.

    I originally had 2 questions, but I figured one out on my own.
    1.) the poem and the line "tell him everything will be ok" -
    Goodwin DOES NOT say this to Colter in the beginning of the movie. CHRISTINA says it to Colter in the very first 8 minute sequence. It is the first thing about christina that warms Colter and he holds on to it throughout the movie.

    Also, the Lilly story/poem was already in existence the morning of the train explosion. Source Code is already developed at that point and thus, so is the pattern sequence. This is true from the first reality through the very last reality (with the text message.)

    so, this is not some sort of circular time curve, or an ontological paradox. There is an origin to these things. Colter uses the Lilly story in the email so that Goodwin believes him. It is his opening trust moniker. After that the name of the culprit/bomber is the clincher. And, asking Goodwin to tell the final realities Colter that everything will be ok, was just Colter taking care of himself.

    Colter does seem to appear in two places at once, consciously, in the final reality. But, quantum mechincs addresses this "problem." it is an alleged possibility and a big part of all scientific time travel theories.

    2.) BUT, my question is about the "fate" comment. Why did Colter see flashes of the end game every time he flashes back to the the original reality? Obviously, his flashes coming to fruition led him to believe that this was all predetermined to happen and so he brings up fate. But, what role does this fate piece play in the movie?

    • Chirurgie

      Yes sorry you are right that it was Christina who said 'everything will be ok' not Goodwin.

      I am in the alternative universe camp but still am unsure of how to explain the 'fate' of seeing the final moments each time he seems to transfer in/out of Sean. Perhaps a loop of some sort if being suggested but would love to hear a logical explanation :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tinu-Abayomi-Paul/703357594 Tinu Abayomi-Paul

    Even though it seems that yours is the technically correct explanation, I find it hard to accept dual consciousness in a reality where 1- at least one dormant physicality exists, and 2- the original inhabitant of the mobile body is displaced - even though he would have died had the superseding consciousness not displaced him anyway.

    I can wrap my mind around after-life consciousness or even alternate reality consciousness, but not one consciousness occupying two physical places while there's one that has the first rights to that body still floating around somewhere.

    It's the same problem I had with Avatar - when that blue creature is displaced by the human occupant, what happens to the creature's consciousness? It's too big of a loose end for my mind to simply ignore.

  • untitled artists

    nice discussion!
    as far as i understand the theory of quantum mechanics, our mind is creating the reality!
    our thoughts actually make what we label as "real". there is no reality and never will be one.
    that is why quantum physics seems so "shocking" when you understand it.
    i love this film and also the ending. what colter experiences in the dozens of the 8-min trips is reality created in his semi-dead mind. it is more to him than a dream or simulation. it feels real to him, and he belives he could stop the bomb detonating. he is just choosing an alternate universe from infinite universes.
    the movie keeps you thinking about your own definition about reality.
    it is also interesting for me that more and more movies and tv series are dealing with the multiverse idea (with or without timetravel) in the last few years. i think espechially of the works of jj abrahams (like in lost, startrek and fringe) leaving the classic linear time travel paradoxon behind, and thinking more of the multiverse idea.

  • Chris

    I will not waste the time explaining the same things that many people have been explaining here ... but I do believe in the alternate reality theory for all of the same reasons as many of the posters in this thread.

    One thing that I would like to point out that I didn't see mentioned here is that the second or third time in Stevens says something like "It is the same train, but it is different" - To me, the train and various things about his surroundings would be slightly different in each alternate reality depending on the choices the inhabitants of that reality made. It is possible this was pointed out here somewhere and I just missed it... I only made it through about 3/4 of the posts here.

    One thing I do not agree with is that a new reality is made every time Stevens enters the source code. My opinion is that the alternate realities were already there and Stevens just enters a reality that happens to be at the right time to catch Sean sleeping so that Stevens can access and take-over his consciousness. Obviously it would have to be a reality where Sean is not dead and did not miss the train, etc.

    If these realities just started then how would Christina know about the comedian and that he was busted for a DUI? or how would the other characters know anything about each other?... They were riding the train together every day in the eighth reality just like they were in the first reality we see in this movie where the bomb first exploded.

  • liam

    Just a random thought.

    There was always a chance that the email he sends is received after the "source code" had already been used.

    I mean because its an alternate reality the source code in that reality could have been used to prevent an event before the train explosion was set to take place. In which case the email would have been pointless....

    • liam

      Also everyone appears to be picking out the one consciousness in two places. The way I see it is there are two consciousness, the first in the body attached to life support and the second now inhabiting Sean's body.

      The reason I see it this way is because both of these consciousness existed at the same time in separate realities. And each living out their lives within their own reality.

      Meaning that they are likely to have made different choices at some point when confronted with a problem (including how they end up on life support - it may not have been the exact same accident...)

      By making different choices they will be separate individuals because they have not 'lived out' the exact same life. And for this reason that they are two separate consciousness and not one consciousness in two places.

      Agreed largely they will be the same, but there 'could' be minute differences which would ultimately set them apart.

      Anyone agree?

  • Nick

    Okay i hear a lot about "what happened to sean?" and i have a simple explanation. Each instance the source code is used creates a new reality right? Meaning everything at that moment is copied and pasted into a new plane of existence. When that happens, colter overwrites sean's existence, making him null. Im not saying sean did not exist at all, but for the sake of taking his body, sean is erased from that state. His profession, his choices, friends, family, actions prior to colter assimilating him still exist, however his future does not. At least this is what i think happened if you explain it how files work. you can copy a folder, then you can go within the copy folder and make some changes, you now have a new folder.
    There is also the explanation that colter is suppressing sean for a while and eventually, sean's consciousness will come back or fuse with colter. There is no evidence of this that i know of in the movie, merely speculation on my part, but i would like to believe this. I mean, colter is a stranger to sean's loved ones, and when you've known someone for years, you know when they're being weird. even christina who said she didnt know him that well, noticed his oddness, so what will happen when he meets his mother, father, siblings? If sean exists somewhere within his consciousness, it'll be easier to assume his life, otherwise i am very interested in how he handles the life of a stranger.

  • Geoff

    So i just saw the movie and all this talk about alternate realities is all well and good, but something struck me throughout the film, well 2 things. his want to communicate with his father, and the message he sent to goodwin. many people are speculating that the movie did not open with the first use of the source code, and that it is possible that goodwin from reality 1 had already recieved a text message from another version of colter. if that is true, then a domino effect happens where colter sends a text message, and calls his father, every time he succeeds at his mission. That within itself creates a paradox. Colter died 2 months prior to the film's events, let us say he was initiated into the program and operational a month prior to events. it is very possible he was used for a number of source code operations. the world is a big place and a lot of terror can happen in 31 days, maybe 1 incident every 3 days. And if he completed all said incidents, this means goodwin could have 10 or so messages from 10 alternate colters. now if we move on beyond the end and fast forward it a year, she may have hundreds of messages telling her how well the source code program works. now i don't know about you, but getting hundreds of mystery messages from ghosts of the past/present/future might influence how i act when i finally get to interact with said "ghost". The same applies to his father, in a year he'll recieve hundreds of calls from people claiming to be from his son's unit. how many people were in that unit? and they were all there when he died? really?! And none of them could have saved him, smh. well im just making fun, it was a good film. i can only discuss like this because i thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • liam

      I think you are a little miss lead. The calls and texts are made from a different reality each time, so working on that basis they are a different Goodwin and Father. So they will only ever receive 1 call and 1 text per reality.

      It is true to say however that there may be numerous texts sent by the same Colter but each time in a different reality. I mean in this film alone he visits several realities (or generates several). But even still only 1 text/ call will be received per Goodwin and his father.

      • Geoff

        Liam, what i meant was not that there were several messages sent by the same colter during the train scenario, but if the train scenario was not the first scenario in which the source code was used, then there are possible other copies of colter's consciousness within other people. The best way to explain this train of thought is to think of it this way. terror event A happens, colter A is sent to deal with it. after repeat failure he eventually succeeds and is trapped in the host body in a new world. Since colter A adverted this disaster in this world (B), the sleeping colter B who is attached to the machine is never used for Terror attack A since it did not happen. Terror attack B now happens, and colter B is used. he succeeds in stopping the event and sends goodwin a message. Since the timeline stays the same up to 8 minutes prior to terror attack B, colter A's message was sent and recieved, and now Colter B's message has also been sent. This is destined to repeat, since the colters have no knowledge of each other's existence. So using this logic, even though colter sent many texts during his many tries, in the final world he made it possible for goodwin to recieve additional texts since he succeeded and left new opportunities for his dimensional duplicate to go back, advert another disaster, and repeat the same course of actions.

      • Lilly

        But the thing that no one is mentioning here - the ONE thing that does not connect with the alternate reality theory - is that in the final scene of the movie, Goodwin REMEMBERS the name of the terrorist. When she walks into Rutledge's office, she says the name simultaneously, showing that she REMEMBERS it happening. If this is a new reality in which the explosion, etc. never happened, how could she remember??

  • Liam

    I can understand what you mean. But they wont overlap realities, so there will always only be one text and call made per reality. Each time he attempts to avert a disaster he enters a completely new reality.

    The text he sends is not received by the Goodwin in the original reality of the film, it is received in the alternate reality where he takes over sean.

    So this means that one the alternate colter completes a mission and sends the text again it will be to the reality that he is currently in and not the reality he came from.... so it makes and endless cycle from reality to reality. But never more than once in each.

    • Mary Wong

      but still, isn't it creepy enough to receive one message from a "future/past SC ghost" who claimed to have stopped a crime when in the reality that you are in, the SC project has not been started yet? What would that influece the Goodwin b? Also, since in this reality b, the bomb never went off, Sean is still alive, then what happened to Sean's consciousness? After reading most of the comments, these are the two questions that still bug me.

  • Jackie longshot

    I haven't read any of the other comments, so sorry if its redundant. The problem isn't some world ending paradox, nor is his consciousness existing in two parallel realities. The idea of parallel realities is that the same person can exist in several places at once.
    I had a problem with some of the other things tougher to iron out.
    1. If the source code is creating separate realities independent of each other, then how dothe actions in one affect, an alter the other? That's a time travel movie and not an alternate planes movie. Even of a movie stayed highly fictional and pushed this idea forward- I could handle it, but still have a little trouble with a cell phone service so outstanding it sent cross-dimensional emails.
    2. Why did the movie make it seem like the female officer somehow understood what was happening? She would have no recollection of an expired reality after it had been altered.
    3. What I thought both interesting but kind of silly was that the source code project's success would never be observed, because a successful mission wipes out that reality. I think they'd lose funding pretty quickly. And then disasters again would insue.
    4. What happened to the "consciousness" of Sean? We accept this as a sort of 80's quantum leap thing, into forever?
    5. If the main character thought he could change the narrative reality, demonstrated by the email, could he have not source coded back to his helicopter accident, and changed that event?
    Whatever, I like the idea of the film, but they should have kept it simple. If he had just died when they pulled his life support, that could have been a movie without real issue, but when you try to justify something by just "mentioning" quantum physics, followed by "it's complicated, you wouldn't understand and we don't have time", it makes me hear the voice of the scriptwriter saying, "there's just no time, the movie has to end 45 minutes from now and I have to get this script done."

    Fun flick though.
    Thanks for writing!

  • Liam

    @ Jackie Longshot

    The cell phone does not send messages across realities/ dimensions. When the message is sent it goes to Goodwin in Colters current reality.

    Goodwin knows because she received Colters email, hence the on going cycle from reality to reality. Picture it this way, that the ending we see where Colter sends the email, has already happened with an alternate Colter in the current reality before the film begins....

    @ Lilly

    Goodwin knows the name of the terrorist when she walks in and sees it on the news broadcast, because she had then received the email from Colter.

  • James

    Well the way I see it is this.

    All the realities are intertwined with each other. Colter is in seans body from another reality so when he saves the people on the train the two realities came together. The source code never got started up yet because the people lived. So when he sent the text it was still the Goodwin from the normal reality but it was before everything happened. Thats my seance in it.

    So in other words.. Sean from the "Future" source code ended up in seans body so when he sent the text it was the Same goodwin but she does not remember anything, because the source code has yet to be used.

  • Alex R.

    First off, I'm going to post my theory without reading anyone elses theory, in order to preserve my own. Secondly, Let me label the realities/dimensions depicted in the film.

    Reality 1: Stevens in his "pod" speaking with Goodwin.

    Reality 2: On the train, living the last 8 minutes as Sean.

    Keep in mind, this is my theory based on my first time watching this film. I hope to watch it a few more times to really cultivate a proper theory.

    My Theory: Stevens becomes more and more aware of what "Reality 2" is capable of during his multiple run throughs, and also what Dr. Rutledge says "isn't" possible about said reality. Stevens seems to realize that he can operate outside of the boundaries of the train, even getting off at differnet stops. This realization is also confirmed by the fact that he can simply move about as he wants, without having to do exactly what "Real Sean" did for the last 8 minutes of his life. To put it simply, Stevens feels that, with an indirect confirmation from Rutledge, that he is placed into an alternate reality each time he gets transported back to the train, that he has full control of. A reality that supposedly only exists for 8 minutes, due to the fact that it is manufactured from the memory of the "Real Sean", who is deceased. Stevens seems to be fully aware that his actions will not effect Reality 1, but also believes that he can change the fate of the passengers of this train, in Reality 2.

    Here comes the stretch of imagination/interpretation...

    Stevens asks Goodwin to send him back for one last time, and also to take him off life support when the 8 minutes are up. As we know, Goodwin completes both of these tasks. If you notice, she terminates Stevens' life support right as the 8 minutes are up, and a moment of freezed time is depicted. This is when "Real Sean's" mind/spirit/aura dies in Reality 2, and Stevens' mind takes over in its place. The freeze, or delay, is due to Stevens' mind/spirit/aura attempting to return to his body, and then having to return to the body of "Real Sean" in Reality 2, since Stevens' remains are no longer living. From this point on, Stevens' now assumes the body/role/persona of Sean in Reality 2. His second chance at life. This is also confirmed by the fact that Goodwin in (future) Reality 2 receives Stevens' email regarding the Source Code mission his future self is about to embark on. Hence hinting at a continuing pattern of alternate realities of already alternate relalities.

    Again, this is my take after watching the movie once, but I believe it is a pretty good theory so far.

    • GregSL

      Yes, but what this also means is that every time he went in and failed to stop the bomb, that reality continues (just with Sean dying and returning Stevens to his pod). That includes Christina watching her co-worker get hit by a train after beating up an innocent person on the platform. She lives with that in that reality forever. And to go a step further, since the bomb explodes the first seven times he goes in, SC1 will be needed in all of those new realities, meaning he will either do the same thing eight times in those seven failed missions (and then eight more in those failed seven, and then eight more in those failed seven) plus the eighth successful mission infinitely. Or I guess it could be altered slightly if you believe that things can change slightly each time, and maybe he only needs 6 times once, or doesn't do it in time in some missions -- and Chicago blows up.

  • Rian Vorster

    Few things to keep in mind as I explain the ending .
    1.This is not like Inception.Inception is Dream-state/program.And not parallel reality.Dreams are not reality although it might seem like it.
    Source code is memory using a genius mind in a deep dream-state(coma) combined with Source code (They don`t explain Source code much.
    2.“Lily woke in an evening dress and an opera cloak….”
    3.Source code can copy the memory of minds (last 8 minutes or so) but Captain Stevens copied Source code into his own mind along with all the necessary data to create a parallel universe that runs with Source code.It is false what Dr.Rutledge says that he cannot exist after 8 minutes.
    4.Captain Coltor Stevens is SC1,he will always be SC1 in all universes.There is no psychic relation between him and his other versions.There doesn`t need to be.They are all the same,because parallel reality only started to exist from when he really died.All his childhood memories and experiences are the same up to the point when he will start his 'first mission'.
    Dr.Rutledge did talk about bringing in more Source code ‘candidates’ so to speak.But SC1 is the trial version.
    5.Dr.Rutledge is waiting for a crises so that he can use SC and proof it works.(he is greedy and doesn`t care for Cpt.Stevens life.)
    6.He sees his real reflection as he truly visions himself at the end of the movie and not as Sean.
    7.Time travel is possible within the context of Source code.They don`t reveal how many times he has done his mission but add that up with 8 minutes and you get the idea.

    Source code enables Scientist to capture (copy) the last 8 minutes of someones mind track.When Cpt.Stevens Died within the source code,he was already plugged into the Program at that moment within the visual memory of Sean.His mind was not in reality because we saw he was in a coma prior to his death. So the last 8 minute track of his mind wasn`t his reality but Source Code itself and the knowledge of this, although he still retained all his memories, and that`s how he copied Source code with his mind and created a parallel universe.In that universe he no longer exists as Cpt.Stevens in the 8 minute period(although he has all his memories)but as Sean.He transferred himself into this reality after the 8 minutes.
    The real Cpt.Stevens still exists in this new reality at Beleaguered Castle.This version of Cpt.Stevens will be send on another mission not the train one(Perhaps to stop a suicide bomber on an airplane or an assassination) ,because the bomb already has been defused on the train and he informed the law enforcement of this,remember when He took Derek Frost`s phone,and related all the necessary information.Now when this new Cpt.Stevens will solve his 'first mission', he too will be asked to be unplugged at the 8 minute end run and create another universe within the Original Source code universe. The original Cpt.Stevens knows himself and knows other version of himself would do the same.Thus eventually rendering Source code useless.Dr.Rutledge will for ever only have 1 successful mission under Cpt.Stevens and the more Parallel realities within realities that are being created the more 'a time for a crises' will be postponed until they shut down SC1.That`s the plot explained.

    Now this is really the important question.What is the source of Source Code?It needs a mind supported by a life source to interact with other memories.Source code is then in a sense 50% of the life source of it`s operator.The one cannot exist without the other.When Cpt.Stevens died in reality,Source code must have copied the last 8 minutes of his mind,which means it copied itself.So it exists within itself.It can exist within itself until there are no more Cpt.Stevens to create more parallel universes.Cpt.Coltor Stevens can only truly exist through other minds by saving their lifes and sacrificing his own...Awesome film,I`ll rate it 82%.

  • darren jessop

    i see it that the scientist guy who invented source code knew that it created parallel universes and that coltor could, if he defused the bomb and carried on living, continue to live in the body of sean... i think this is shown because he always seems very, very adamant on coltor not to deviate from the timeline and to stay on the train where he will die and come back again to them to try again, because if he survives he will stay in the parallel universe and not come back to them to help.
    Also at the end when coltor asks to go back in to save them, he doesn't let him... because he knows if he does he will stay in that reality, lost in the parallel universe in seans body meaning they can't use him again for more source code missions.
    this is just how i see it, the inventor knew he was creating new alternate realities and did everything to try to stop coltor from changing things by convincing him he could do nothing to change it. but actually he could just in an alternate reality, so the scientist knew all along, but wanted to keep him to do more missions, if he let him defuse the bomb he would lose him in that reality. the sientist invented it... im sure he knew what it did...

  • GregSL

    It makes sense, however it would have been a better movie, IMO, if the source code really was just tapping into another person's memory and having access to the world somehow -- Captain wanted to die a soldier, he would get a great death by saving an entire city in real life, and getting the girl around a laughing train, right after hearing his father say he loved him -- in his source code world. The end.

    They would just need to remove the quick cuts of his 'fate' and it works.

    But again, the alternate reality does work. The thing that bothers me about it is that Christina has to live in one of the realities having seen some co-worker get hit by a train after beating up an innocent person right before their train exploded (and then the city of Chicago afterward).

    But the question is also: does the city of Chicago explode in the alternate realities he created? That would mean that Source Code failed in those version. See, if the train explodes in the first seven versions, SC1 would later be sent in to find out what happened, in THOSE realities too. I wonder if he always saves each reality, however created seven different versions, where he dies on the train in many, gets hit by the train once, gets shot once (and maybe survives), etc.

  • GregSL

    The more I think about this, the more I realize that there would be infinite number of new realities, because each of those new realities he created in the movie needed SC1 to intervene, and who knows what happens in those -- maybe in one he doesn't find the guy in time and Chicago blows up. Maybe one takes him 10 times to see what happened. Maybe he does the exact same thing every time, and there are infinite realities of the same 8 things.

    • liam

      The thing is, when the film starts we don't know how many times Colter has entered the "source code". So in effect he may have tried to save the train 100 times before he gets it right. But that doesn't really change anything.

      A lot of people think that every time the source code is used a new reality is made. This is not true.

      The alternate realities have always existed, and run parallel with our own. The source code simply provides a means of passing into one of these realities. Its effectively the infinite universe/ dimensional theory. Where at any given time, somewhere across one of the infinite dimensions ANYTHING is possible. Even things which in this reality are not.

      So because there is an infinite amount of realities they can keep using the source code time and time again. The trouble is as GregSL pointed out, these realities continue after Colter leaves them. Meaning the choices Colter makes while in them effect the people he meets permanently. So Christina does have to live in on (in one of the realities) having seen some co-worker get hit by a train after beating up an innocent person right before their train exploded

  • FF22

    Indeed, the movie would have been plausible if they'd have just left the text message part out, because then it would be up to interpreation (even if the movie would have continued past the frozen second). However, this way it's just a mess.

    Let me first just get some things straightened out:

    1. People who say it's a problem to have two Colters in the new (created) reality just don't understand multiple realities. According to multiple realities theory there are an infinite number of realities and in each one a Colter (and you and me), which obviously exists parallel. They're all called the same, but they're just like identical twins (assuming the realities are very close to another) - meaning the're not actually identical or the same (that's why it's called _alternate_ reality, not _identical_ reality). So, two Colters existing in the realities where he got killed of or where he stays alive isn't a problem per se.
    2. Also those people who think that where the film begins isn't the first time the Source Code has been activated and that the Goodwin in that reality already got a message from some previous Colter, and knows about the implications, are wrong. It' because - contrary to what those ppl say - Goodwin actually never ever tells Colter that "everything's gonna be ok" (which would imply that she got a message from a previous Colter). It's not Goodwin, but Christina telling that to Colter before he's pulled back to 1st "reality", and then afterwards once more it's her (Christina) telling him the same, but just after Colter asks him to do so (to tell her that everything's gonna be ok). Also, if the 1st Goodwin would have suspected that Source Code creates new realities, she'd have not anwered Colter that she doesn't believe in another self of her when asked about that, right before she sends him "back" for the last time.
    3. Also people who think that Colter is kinda "killing" Sean by inhabiting his body are wrong. That because if it's true what both Colter and Rutledge tell&assume, that a new reality is created/formed by the Source Code, then that reality didn't actually exist prior to it's creating, so there was no actual Sean in it. Of course all the other "parts" or elements (including all the persons) of that reality must have been in some way "copied" from some other reality (because the reality starts off from the original, 1st reality), except obviously for Sean, who only had his appearance, and not his consciousness copied (unlike the other ppl). So no, Colter doesn't actually need to kill Sean or Sean's consciousness in these new realities for the whole thing to work. All existing Seans in all already existing (parallel) realities can continue to live and inhabir their own bodies while in the newly created reality a Sean+Colter hibrid (with Sean's appearance but Colter's consciousness) can be "instantiated" - without killing anyone or anynone's consciousness.

    Now back to where actually the film itself messes up:

    1. As already many pointed out, Christina - and other ppl in that reality who knew Sean beforehand - obviously will figure out sooner or later, that he's not the same; so Colter's new life won't be so happy after all. That's why the movies' ending is bad in the first place. Because it makes undebatably clear that we're having indeed an alternate reality here (because we see Sean's face reflected on the sculpture) - and not a kind of "heaven" or some kind of afterglow, where reality's rules wouldn't apply. It's obviously as real as it gets - just a different reality; but one that still obviously wouldn't "forgive" the new Sean+Colbert hibrid to not know anything about his past.
    3. Similar problem with Colters in newly created realities inside newly created realities. And that is, that none of those Colters will know of any of the actions of those Colters who created the realities they're now in. The problem with that is, that obviously each of them will keep calling their dads, and thus said dad will keep getting
    calls from an infinite number of "teammates"/commarades, which will get weird after a while.
    4. Similar problem with Colters tranisition from parent-realities to newly created realities slowly taking over the entire population in the new realities. Even though they will be all distinct persons with different looks and different experiences, they will all know that originally they were Colter Stevens, and that they transitioned from some other reality to the one they're living in. They will not recognize each other - unless they talk about their experiences -, but ultimately, after enough transitions and creating enough new "embedded" realities, no single human being will left with an "independent" consciousness, but they will be all the result of Source Code "cloning". Thus we'll have 7 billion Colters walking on Earth. Huge flaw too.
    5. The movie is also not consistent about how long Sean+Colbert hibrid can survive in the new reality. There are two instances ("jumpbacks") where he indeed "outlives" the 8 minute limit suggested by Rutledge and Goodwin, and also the last no-return jumpback seems to last longer - which implies that he might indeed be able to exist in the newly formed reality up until his death (and would have been able to do so also in all realities that were newly formed, if he just wouldn't have gotten killed). However, we also have a jumpback from which he's returned before he gets killed. That's somewhere at 47 minutes into the movie, when Christina tells him that Colter has been shot down in the war and died. He then also sees Christina's face getting distorted/pixelated before being brought back or returning to the reality we know as being real at that point, which is kinda weird. We never got explained why this happens, but this definitively contradicts the assumption that Colter can stay in a reality for any amount of time he wants to, assuming he doesn't get killed. There's no explanation why he's returned to the "capsule" at that point - but he definitively isn't returned because he gets killed. Also Christina's face getting distorted suggests that this is indeed not a reality but a simulation - in a true reality once's face wouldn't get distorted that way. And this is where the "Colter lives on in an alternate reality" narration gets defeated - the (now impossible) explanation which will be explicitly confirmed at the end of the movie by Colter's message.

    So, all in all the movie has huuuuuge plot holes, which all could have been closed (actually, just no exposed) if the movie would have ended without Colter texting Goodwin. If it would have ended at the freeze moment, then it would have suggested that Colter has died (and either ceased to exist of being frozen for eternity in that perfect moment). Or it could have continued with Christina and Colter+Sean hybrid going to the sculpture, but then they should either now have shown the hybrid's face or they should have shown Colter's face reflected in it; that would have also made some sense, as it (coupled with the lack of message sent to Goodwin) would have invalidated the suggestion that this new thing he's in now is the same kind of new reality (or whatever) that he was in each time when he was sent back BUT his body still living inside the Castle in the original reality. Then we'd have assumed that he either got integrated into this new reality seamlessly, or that it was his personal heaven, or whatever.

    But this way it just makes no sense, because the movie now tries to make perfect sense, however, contradicts itself at many many points.

    I still liked the movie, but it's definitively flawed and could have been better if some of the scenes from the end would have been left out.

    • Rian Vorster

      Although I think you make good points I feel you don`t understand the film as I did.I feel this isn`t like Inception where one can choose what ending you liked best.And I`m glad it isn`t as that movie was way more straight forward than anybody thought.Source code on the other hand is a little more complicated and I believe there isn`t many interpretations for it although some might argue otherwise.
      Source code in our reality is basically computer code that only humans can read and change; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Source_code
      To understand this movie we need to understand the premise that "Source code" is a code of reality somehow captured like a film or a sandbox game except there is no limits to it`s detail or the unknown for it is reality captured and contained and it can be played with and tampered with without damaging or effecting the real reality of Coltor Stevens or 'SC1'...but it did.(Rutledge even says shoot them all if you have to ,to just find to out who the bomber is)
      It`s like a simulation then with the purpose of keeping everything save for the future...but it isn`t.

      SC then can only be accessed with a deceased mind -the 8mm memory track -which a another mind or operator can then run.
      So we have Source code captured within the memory of deceased Sean and the Operator 'SC1'/Coltor Stevens(Note that his Names also contains the same letter as the Abbreviation for Source code, just like Neo/One in the Matrix.This indicates a clue that he is SC1 and always will be SC1 in all realities.
      Now I have explained most of the film in previous post but I`d just like to mention a few things:

      -"This isn`t time travel ,rather Time re-assignment":THis statement by Dr.Rutledge is false.He Hides many facts from Cpt.Stevens and we as viewer don`t actually know if Dr.Rutledge or Cpt.Stevens truely believes this or not.

      -Cpt.Stevens cannot exist beyond the 8 mm track.-This Statement is also false as we see him living just a short while after the Train explosion (when he fell onto the train tracks and got run over and when he was shot)These two scenes are put there just in plays for us to wonder,can he survive after the 8 minute run or will 'reality' find a way for Sean to die as meant to (sort of like Final destination).

      -When SC1 died in reality with his mind still in Source code,the Program basically copied the last 8minutes of his life and everything he knows(Source code copied itself because Steven`s mind was running Source code and tampering with it for many 8 minute increments),then deleting Sean`s memory at the 8 minute end run and replacing it with his own.Cpt.Stevens sacrificed his own LIFE in REALITY (albeit it be a potato) to save many other people even if they are just code.Sean and Christina are dead in reality/the Narrative of the film.Cpt.Stevens never knew them then but he got to know these people and save their lives.
      I do`nt know whether Sean`s mind dies and Stevens takes over completely at the end of the film,that would pretty much be dick but then again Sean is the hero and Cpt.Stevens got to save many lives through him.But keep in mind Sean`s memory cannot exist beyond the 8minutes so he will always be dead.He had his change to live and he indirectly then gave life to SC1 as Sean gave live to other on the train.Sean is then a unknown hero as much as Cpt.Stevens is for reality.

      -At the end of the film in the reflection of the Cloud Gate sculpture .Stevens sees himself as himself and not Sean anymore as he did on the train.This could imply that he might have accepted his circumstance(being in a coma and now dead and all) or that he replaced Sean`s memory with his own Reality.This is also a metaphor for his individual character growth as he has become himself and no longer rely on the recreation of reality for him to exist.

      -I don`t know whether the coma state he is in has anything to do with how strongly he can perceive/operate reality in 8minutes or recreate it`s entirety but I believe him being very intelligent and the Comatose state combined with Source code was a fitting combination to create Alternate realities.(They didn`t exist all ready,he created them within Source code because as was mentioned in the context of the film,the program cannot exist without a human mind to operate it.)

      -Yeah so that`s how Cpt.Stevens could create (by Time-traveling and breaking the source of reality)create a different path in reality and contain it and avoid an inevitable train attack and warn authorities of the event and delaying a 'time for a crises' and be a hero and stop feeeling guilty for killing his squad and stuff .Source code will always only have one Successful mission under SC1 (Cpt.Stevens) per reality until it will eventually be scrapped under operation of Cpt.Stevens in a continuing pattern of alternate realities.

  • FF22

    Small type corrections: "(and either ceased to exist of being frozen for eternity in that perfect moment)" was meant to be: "(and either ceased to exist OR being frozen for eternity in that perfect moment)."

    Some one more thing ppl are wrong about:
    4. at the end Goodwin doesn't actually "remember" (as suggested by many) the terrorist's name, but knows it because he just read/reads it in the message he got from the Colter+Sean hybrid (they both are now in a newly created reality)
    5. the original (to us unknown) Sean, whose body Colter inhabits in the newly created realities can't be a bomber or a pander to the bomber (as suggested by many), even though he indeed does get told by Christina, that he just came from the bathroom. He can't be, because when he confronts the bomber at his van the bomber doesn't act like he'd know him. If they'd have worked together the bomber with the Van would have recognized him, and just be surprised by his behaviour. Also, if Sean would have been the bomber he obviously wouldn't most likely be a suicide one, so he couldn't have been killed off on the train in the original reality either.

  • DMcG

    Before I proceed, let me explain that I am no scientist, just a history Teacher, but I wonder if there is a remaining option that builds upon what has already been stated. I agree with the parallel realities being created and I think that two colter minds existing within one reality is possible as well. The big "what if" question that seems to be nagging at me is: What happened to Sean Fentress' counsciousness (I realize that according to some sean's counsciousness never existed in the newly created reality, but lets assume it kinda/sorta did)? I am not sure if one's counsciousness falls under the rule of: matter cannont be destroyed or created, and if it does not, perhaps science has yet to proove it. Those who believe in an afterlife most certainly believe that one's counsciousness cannot cease (although most believe it had to start somewhere).

    Given this line of thought, we know that Colter's mind is linked to Sean's body between the two parallels, but what if they are linked within the existing reality that is created? In other words, when Colter inhabited sean's body, did sean's counsciousness "upload" into Colter's comatose torso in that reality? Since this whole premise is based on quantum physics, and scientists can spin one atom in california and another atom in New Jersey will "randomly spin" at the same time, would it not be possible for two minds to be linked because of someone tampering with "the source code"?

    This begs another question: when the source code project finally "gets its day in the sun" in this newly created reality, will sean fentress be up to the task of stopping a terrorist attack? If not, will there be anyway that Colter could help him?

    Director Duncan Jones, feel free to email me if you want to use this as a sequel idea! :-)

  • AAC

    The message that he sent on the phone is different with the message recieved. Try to compare it side by side. That needs to be interpreted...

  • Rushil

    My interpretation.....

    *What is the Source Code(SC)?
    According to the movie, the source code is supposed to Re-assign time according to Dr.Rutledge. There is strong proof however that the SC creates new parallel universes each time it is used. The SC is connected to two people. The person who holds the memory of an event(Sean), and the user(Colter). The SC creates a new reality based on the memory of Sean, and colter enters consciousness in the new reality through Seans body. The SC memory is limited to the last moments of Seans brain(or is it?). While in the SC, the user can gather info by any means neccessary. The full mechanism of the SC is not fully explained, we just understand the main concept based on what we see.

    *The source code definitely creates parallel universes. That is the intention of the movie, otherwise the ending would make no sense at all.
    *Secondly as many others said above, the source code does not neccessarily span 8 minutes, that is just a perception based on prior events, because that is how long it takes the bomb to go off from when he arrives in the parallel universe. It is also evident when he gets out of the train to confront the terrorist, he goes overtime, so that in itself clears the 8 min theory, and also at the same time proves that there is most certainly a parallel universe.
    *There is definitely a parallel universe created, because it is impossible to gather all this information from people on the train from a person who only seen them for 8 minutes. You cant get that by just looking at them, and then recreating this scenario and extract this info. Fact is that the source code creates parallel universes each time it is used, there is no two ways about it.

    Now that ive explained the parallel theory, lets get to the "double consciousness in same reality". According to one of the dialogues between colter and colleen, they speak about how different things could have been in another universe, or how different their lives could have been had they made different choices. This means that even though they may share the same appearance, they are different personalities or people entirely. This basically means that it is possible to occupy the same reality as your parallel self, because its not actually the same frame of mind/soul.

    When the plug is pulled, colter dies in "our" reality, however he still exists in the parallel reality as he has not been killed yet. So basically he will ultimately die when he dies within the new parallel reality. That is proven in all previous source codes. He is still alive in his original reality, so when he dies in the parallel universe, he simply comes back to this original reality.
    Perhaps his soul moves/jumps to the new reality when the plug is pulled(instead of going to heaven), but that is entirely debatable, there isnt enough evidence to support that theory.

    The only issue i have with the souce code, is how it is possible to occupy another persons mind while they are still alive. If they are moving to parallel universes, how is it possible for somebody to jump into another persons mind, and live their life? Maybe the source code creates a new universe based on colter, and what he perceives through seans mind. Remember that they are using seans mind after he has died to create each new scenario. Its a loop hole, and i dont believe that there is a 100% correct explanation to this based on the events in the movie. I believe that this can only be derived by each person separately for themselves.

    *The ending
    I honestly believed it is self-explanatory. Colter goes into the source code one last time. He doesnt know what will happen after those 8 minutes, thats why the screen freezes. Nobody knows what to expect. He could die, disappear, or stay alive. The movie however depicts colter continuing to live on in this parallel universe within seans body. What happens to Sean? I dont know, but thats where you use your imagination. I personally believe that Sean does not exist at the time, because the Source Code is creating a new universe when colter first starts this process. Hence i dont believe that Sean actually exists at the time, he is created like everyone else, except that colters consciousness is the one in Seans body.
    It is evident that colter also believes that there is a possibility that he will continue living on in this new reality. Otherwise he would not have sent the sms to colleen notifying her that Source Code works.
    Colter basically saves the people on the train in the new reality. The source code is therefore never used in this new reality, however colleen is aware that it will work better than they initially believe, because she has been notified by colter through the sms.

    "Everything will be OK"
    Colter tells colleen in the SMS to let the cubicled colter know that everything will be OK. During some of the source codes, colter is given flashes into his future(which is the point where he looks at that mirror thing, and sees Seans reflection). Thats how he knows that this is the way it was all meant to be. I cant really say how he gets those premonitions, but he does.
    During the movie, we hear colleen telling Colter that everything will be OK. It is possible that the source code could have already worked before, and these are the events after the sms was initially sent for the first time, in other words, this could be the crisis that the doctor was talking about in the end, where the Source Code will have its day in the sun.

    *Dr.Rutledge and the truth about Source Code
    During the movie, Dr.Rutledge isnt exactly telling the truth the whole time. He seems to be manipulating information to get what he wants. They constantly tell colter not to deviate from the objective. The question is why? Do they know something else that we dont, or is he not fully sure of the capability of the Source Code. He may be learning as the process continues, he may still be experimenting for all we know. I like to believe that we get snippets of the actual truth. They clearly withheld information from colter, so they were certainly hiding something. In the end, colter tells colleen that the SC works better than they think. Colter has experienced it, so he is the only one who can really give a true indication of the power that the SC possesses. I think we can safely assume that the SC is still in its testing phase, and all its secrets are not yet uncovered.

    *To sum it up, everything in the first post is probably correct. With a few areas that are unexplored in detail, which are left to you to fill it with theories of your own. The movie itself is pretty straight forward. Nobody can say what will happen after colter and christina move on with their lives, maybe the world will end, maybe it wont. The movies boundaries obviously do not extend that far.

    • Liam

      I am sorry to disagree but the Source Code does not "create" new parallel universes. These parallel universes are already existing along side our own, the source code provides a means to pass across from one into the other.

      This is working on the infinite universe theory, which at present seems the most recognized theory about how our universe works. And its certainly the theory I feel has the most credibility.

      In every parallel universe the choices made prior in its existence shape the universe itself. So say we are present with the choice to move house, in one reality we may move, but in another we may not. And this would change the entire outcome of the reality itself. Think of it like the butterfly effect but this time just across multiple realities.

      Another thing I want to pick out is how people are having trouble with the idea that Sean's "soul" simply disappears. Well in each reality Colter passes into Sean's death is predetermined to happen on that train by the choice made by all of its passengers (Sean) included prior to stepping on the train. Meaning that if Colter never enters that reality Sean will always die on the train.

      So when Colter takes over and survives, Sean would be dead. The only reason the body is alive is because of the choices Colter made. So in effect Colter hasn't taken over Sean, he has simply inhabited an "empty vessel".

      As for the 8 minutes before Sean is set to die, I can not pass judgement on where Sean's "soul" goes. But personally I treat it that he has died, and that's good enough for me :). After all he was going to anyway....

  • Liam

    Just a silly thing to point out, at any given time when Colter inhabits Sean's body we can actually see 3 realities. 1) the one we are in 2) Source Code experiment universe with Colters body on life support 3) The universe Colter steps into.

    Don't forget the Film itself presents itself as a new universe to us ;) The Reality of the Film.

  • Lori123

    @Liam: Every movie creates this paradox, though. I have always wondered if, for example, in a George Clooney movie, is there also an actor George Clooney? If there were, wouldn't people be constantly coming up to the character in the movie saying, "Wow! You look just like George Clooney!"

    My point is that I don't think you can count the audience's reality as a third reality, because that exists for every movie.

    • Liam

      And for every movie it is another reality. I'm not saying this movie is special, but we can't overlook this additional reality which most people would.

      But it was just a "silly point" no real need for it just something I thought I should point out ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-F-Benvin/1136354816 Sean F. Benvin

    I dont think a parellel reality was created and I am not sure how Goodwin got the text. I think he went back in time and changed the timeline and as a result he is stuck back in the new time line as the Sean character. Similar to the way Sam used to travel back in the TV show, Quantum Leap.

    • Liam

      This is a valid theory but I unfortunately have evidence to disprove it. Colter states, and I quote "its the same train, but different".

      If he was simply going back in time to 8 minutes prior to the explosion, the train would be EXACTLY the same every time. There would be no differences. No matter how many times he went back...

      • Rian

        Yeah I have noticed him saying it.What was funny was how small the different reactions of Christine was every time he woke up in the the train.Everybody would more or less react the same and say the same things and spill coffee on his shoes but she would show different responses to him, sit differently etc.But I agree that source code doesn`t create parallel universes (Not on it`s own)but I disagree that their are ones already running along the original one.Because this is a sci-fi film it does`nt have to abide by the rule of the sci-fi or rules of quantum physics we know.It`s a creative and unique take on this topic.Quantum leap or groundhog`s day ? This doesn`t realy take many of those films mechanics to drive the story.This is more in a sense like the film ; Primer.
        Source code is a real word in software mathematics,that means computer code that computers can`t read,but humans can.All the universes that will be spawned can only exist within the original Colter Steven`s mind/Source code.It really is easy to fathom if you don`t restrict yourself with the possibilities of the rules of Source code.However their might be parallel realities that exist along the original Steven`s character.The one he lives in at the end of the movie is the Source code of realities and not a parallel reality as we think we know it.That`s how I understood the film.Bu then again he might just have transferred his conscience to another already existing parallel or alternate reality...who really knows?

  • Liam

    Duncan Jones (director) and Ben Ripley (writer) know. But much like all films, its down to the audience how they prefer to intemperate the film.

    So working along this logic, there really is no right or wrong way to perceive the film (within reason)

    But Rian, I like the way you feel that the film can differ from the physics we have in place in reality. After all its just a film, and our real world physics do not necessarily apply.

    Brings a fresh outlook into the the discussion board ;)

    • Rian

      I fairly enjoy sci-fi films especially when it has some thriller elements.I have to admit though,Memento ,Inception and Primer were slightly more enjoyable.I really hope some genius sci-fi writer can give us Sci-fi junkies and 'nerds' something really unique.Perhaps they can take some inspiration from not just books but games like Mass effect,Dead space,Half-Life as those mediums of entertainment had some of the best sci-fi ideas i`ve ever seen.

  • Chris B

    Just watched Source Code in the UK, and having read the first few posts on this site, it annoys me that several people do not appreciate the ending, which is clearly an amazing and necessary twist. I believe that the text was an important confirmation that the Source Code works, but that in solving the bombing in a parallel universe, the Source Code has become unnecessary. Rutledge confirms this by saying that he still awaits the day that Source Code will be required.
    Our protagonist makes it clear at one point in the film that if a soldier has fought and died for one cause, he should deserve to be left to die- not keep on fighting missions. In demonstrating at the end that the Source Code is useless, the machines and the whole operation will be shut down and he will be allowed to die with dignity and in peace. The very machine that they created for spying back in time will betray them... ironic huh? And a headache for Rutledge.
    As for Sean, the body Colter has consumed, I would like to think that after the freeze frame on the train, that Sean the teacher takes back his life- even if we see him later in the park.
    I believe that after the Source Code is shut down for its clearly unethical operations, Captain Colter ceases to exist and there is simply the memory of him dying in Afghanistan. Period.
    As for all those parallel universes... gloss over them. Get sucked in by them and you're snookered. Move on... Colter saved the day, gave Sean his life back with the girl of his dreams and got himself off those leads in that tank. RIP.

    • Liam

      but Sean doesn't come back, we see Colters face in the reflection at the end, not to mention Colters conscious is present with in Seans body to. Sean is gone... he doesn't come back

  • Nick B

    I don't believe the source code creates alternate universes, but rather taps into alternate universes that already exist. One reason I believe this is because on the second time he goes back he states, "it's the same train but it's different". This is because she has joked to him about moving to India in the first universe and not the second. She wiped off his shoe in the first universe and not until after her ex called in the second universe did she wipe off his shoe. The universes are already slightly different and he hasn't been in them long enough to alter them.

    • Liam

      I totally agree with this comment, in fact I made a similar post a while back. The universes already exist, its just a case of crossing into one ;)

      • Nick B

        The only whole in my theory is what happens to Sean. I can only assume that if this was real, and fate had some part to play in this, (since Colter was seeing that chrome monument before it happened) that since Sean was going to die anyway on the train, that his soul, or essence, was taken from that body and sent to where ever we go, and replaced with Colter.

        Also on a side note, and I hate to disagree with you Liam, but I’ve skipped it back several times on my 40”, and the reflection at the end looks to me to be Sean’s body. You can even make out the part in his hair. Colter has more of a buzz cut. I don’t think it would make sense to have two of Colter’s bodies in one dimension, plus his original back in the other dimension. We only see Colter walking and moving around to make it easier for us to recognize that Colter’s conscious is in Sean’s body.

  • SP

    Your explanation makes sense except for one thing: if Colter's text to Goodwin was in the same and finale universe before anything happened, how did she know the bomber's name?

    • Liam

      Because it was in the text. She read the text, then walked into his office when she saw it being reported on the news. She then relayed what she had read in the text while watching it on the TV.

  • Nick B

    Something a little funny to point out is that Colter sends an email to Goodwin in his final trip, (the universe he stays in). In his email he states that not only does the source code work, but even better then they imagined. And that they’ve created a whole new world. In other words, Goodwin in world “B” is reading an email from Colter, FROM world “A”, (currently resinding in world “B”), that was created by a Dr. Rutledge from world “A”. I don’t think that Colter understands how multiverse’s work…lol

    The universe had to already exist.

  • Sophea

    One thing I found illogical at the beginning of the film but ended up supporting the alternative-reality ending is the fact that Colter is able to explore outside of Sean's experience on the train in the source code. Logically, if he was reliving the last 8 minutes of Sean's life, his vision and actions would be limited to what Sean's brain has registered. He would not be able to get off the train at Glenwood or notice suspects that Sean has never seen before. And likely not being able to know where the bomb was to start with. On the other hand the alternative-reality would allow Colter to explore outside of Sean's perceptions and diverge the timeline from the narrative universe.

  • steve

    I think everyone's spot on with the alternative parallel worlds.

    I think the reason why rutledge lied/ misleading was because in the world where source code worked, the train still blew up, but he managed to capture frost and prevent the larger explosion going off. At the end of the film he's on the phone discussing funding etc for the new source codes.

    However in the alternative parallel world, he's in the office and says one day the source code will work/ be need to stop a crisis.

    If Colter was to realise that his life extended the 8min mark and he could actually have an impact on the 'real world' then this would stuff up rutledge's plans to get more funding/ financial gains.

    That's why ruledge gets crazy when Goodwin disconnects Colter. In the 'main real' world in the end there is no colters and rutledge's experiment or source code is effectively gone.

    By secretly letting goodwin know in the parallel world she can figure out the full extent it works and prevent source code being used for personal gains. I dont know something along those lines

    I just get the feeling ruledge was dodgey
    while goodiwn was the full package on the same side

  • john

    At the end of the movie, my interpretation is that Colter is now living in the body of Sean. We'll call this Reality "B". He got there through Source Code, and he survived there by Goodwin terminating his body in the original reality (Reality "A").

    Now, Colter is also still alive in Reality "B" in his deformed body at Beleaguered Castle, waiting for an opportunity to enter Source Code.

    At some point in time, there will be another instance (say another terrorist act) where they will want to use Source Code in Reality "B". At that point, Reality "B" Coulter will be Source Coded into someone else in Reality "C", call him John.

    Reality "C" .. let's say it plays out like Reality "B" did. Reality "B" Coulter enters the body of John, in Reality "C", and ultimately saves the world. Coulter is also existent in Reality "C" as Sean. Reality "B"'s Goodwin terminates Reality "B" Coulter, and Coulter lives on in Reality "C" as John.

    Now in Reality "C", we now have Coulter as John, Coulter as Sean, and deformed Coulter in Beleaguered Castle who has yet to enter Source Code.

    The end result is that you could have X number of Coulters running around in different bodies. Right??

    • Liam

      Im sorry, but why would Colter be in Seans body in reality C?

      Because he took over Seans body in reality B. Sean will still occupy his body across all other realities. Colter is not necessarily used to find the train bomber in every reality, so there for will not always take over Seans body...

  • Rian

    I have agreed with Liam before on certain things but John said the same thing I have.I do believe this movie has a bit to do with Identity but not in a 'Being John Malcovich' weird way.If Colter from Universe A occupies Sean`s body in reality b? But Cpt Steven Colters still exists in B.He will be send on his 'FIRST' mission (I thought being 2 months at Beleanger Castle he would have done many more missions, but it isn`t true.)So In Universe B Cpt . Colter`s will prevent a sequence of assassinations or airplane bombings or whatever by inhabiting the identity of those deceased individuals.However,will Colter Stevens still inhabit Sean in Universe C or D,E...?Or will it be the original.Keep in mind no matter how many universe`s Colters create, it will always only be source code within his dead mind.It will be endless time captured in a memory of 8 minutes.Because this is a sci-fi film , it doesn`t mean it has to abide by the laws of other Sci-Fi`s.There won`t suddenly after 13 new universes be flying cars or whatever like in 'the one'.The memory of a deceased enables source code and it`s operator (CPT.Stevens)to relive reality.What happens if the 'operator' dies within Source codes end run?Source code copies his last 8 minutes (Entire life and itself) and creates a reality within reality within reality (not parallel or alternate reality)

    • Liam

      I would just like to add that I am basing my view points on our current understanding of Physics (which are always changing). And you are right in saying that this is a film, so the laws we abide by do not technically apply to the film.

      So there is plenty of space to think outside of the box ;) After all thinking about things in a different way is what leads us to the great scientific revelations!

    • Liam

      Just noticed this piece at the bottom of your post.

      "What happens if the 'operator' dies within Source codes end run?Source code copies his last 8 minutes (Entire life and itself) and creates a reality within reality within reality (not parallel or alternate reality)"

      I can see what you are pointing at. But for a reality to be sustained within another in this way, when Colter is "switched off" the new reality would collapse. Simply because there is no longer a server to house this new reality...

      Parralell realities/ universes are running along side our own continuously. And it makes more sense to think that they have manipulated them enough to cross Colters Conscious from one into the other. I don't think any realities are being "created" as such. Simply crossing from one into the other.

      This explains why there are subtle differences with the trains each time. Its the butterfly effect, choice for any one passenger that differs to the original reality will ripple across the entire train...Thus making things different (if only a tiny change).

  • john

    why has no one commented on the scene in which Colter is dialing Rutledge while using the phone of the ex-walter reed staffer, Christina's image becomes "pixelated", starts to disappear as she explaining to Culter that there's a news report of him dying 2 months prior.

    • Rian

      John I think it was just to not give to much of the suspense/Answers in the story away.We don`t really see Colter speaking to Rutledge on the phone but later in the film he says he talked to him and maybe next time he will send him a pizza to see if that will make a difference.
      It`s very much the same with the scenes of him dying of the train just a few more seconds after the 8 minute run.The film makers wants us to start questioning whetther he could really exist after 8 minutes if he just simply walk of the train but unfortunately it runs him over and he gets shot and dies of bleeding and we automatically think reality will find a way for him to die ,Sean cannot live beyond his time that he died in the original reality of the narrative.

      I think as for Christina flickering out of focus/filter ,this might have to do ,when she told Coltor his friend Cpt Stevens is dead I think he had some sort of a shock (electric currents in his mind R.E.M) which effected his mind in the coma and made his mind unstable (remember he is hooked up to life support)I think realizing this he sort of almost awoke himself from the coma even if just by a very small percentage.However at the end of the film we realize he is in fact Brain dead.
      Also note the scene where Goodwin sees him for the first time and his eyes display severe R.E.M.

  • Liam

    I think the whole aspect of him on life support is a little bit...warped if it were. We are lead to believe his body and mind is DEAD, and the life support simply grants them access to his mind.

    But as Rian has pointed out, Goodwin views his body and his eyes are certainly in R.E.M! And so provides the possibility that he is in fact being maintained in a coma like state, as opposed to brain dead. They could be lying about Colter being brain dead to get away with the tests, I can't imagine they would be allowed a living subject in a coma to experiment with. So to get cover themselves, they inform the higher authorities that the body is in fact brain dead, but it doesn't mean it really is.

    I will hold my hands and say I had not noticed the Loss of focus/ flickering on Christina. But again as Rian has pointed out, seeing as Colter appears to be in a coma like state, this traumatic information and the realization of what happened could well begin to "wake him up". Which in turn means the source code becomes a little unstable...

  • Rian

    Right you are.I do think it might be parallel realities he crosses over to.But that reality he crosses over to is still sort of simulated by a program I think.They never explain whether Source code is a mathematical construction of reality or whether it allows people to actually cross into truely real depictions of the past.As Dr.Rutledge said it isn`t time travel rather time re-assignment ,but we all know he is a big liar.The butterfly effect is also consistent as you mentioned.
    I think I short circuited myself just thinking about all these realities.
    But always come to understand parallel and alternate realities are much the same except it isn`t.This film really got me thinking whether it`s a parallel reality he enters or does he simply alter his own reality and existence by choosing death in his own but proceeding to live in another, although altered in another parallel universe , one running 8 minutes or much later to his original reality.

    I understand parallel as for example there are two realities with two Liam`s , but you both have an individual conscience.You cannot think or feel or share what the other one does.There is no connection.At the end of the film Stevens still retains his conscience in this new reality.Yet there is another Cpt.Stevens with his very own conscience in that same reality.So it must be parallel even if he did altered it?
    It reminded me of the Droste effect I saw on the cover of Christopher Nolan`s Memento where a man holding a photo of himself holding that exact same photo and you can see an endless stream of photos within each other until it becomes to small.Like Charles Foster Kane standing between TWO mirrors creating a stream of parallel images in Citizen Kane or filming the TV with the video feed plugged into the same TV.It`s quite bizarre.

    How do however with all this revealing info I still Retain although only in the context of this film and this is something they don`t reveal in the film but it`s questionable ; Even if no 'operator is plugged in does Source code still keep running even after it kicks colter out when he dies.I think he gets kicked out of Source code not because he doesn`t belong in that reality and isn`t suppose to die but Sean is but because he is alive in his own reality.
    The exact same time his live support was switched off and at the end of the 8 min track of Sean`s memory when he defused the bomb, Source code must have somehow copied the 8 min film that was left of Steven`s brain and that reality might play out within Source code even if no one is plugged into that anymore from an external source.Steven`s in the end became one with the program.I think this make for an interesting sci-fi movie ending an gives an explanation to how he ended up at 'Cloud Gate' sculpture still alive with his own conscience.As for Sean`s conscience in this parallel reality inside Source code,I still have no idea what happened.Perhaps a identity switch...?

    • Liam

      The ending of this film is an interesting one because it leaves so many options both open and unexplored! Which is one of the reasons, in my opinion, it is a successful ending (I know some will disagree).

      The fact is, there really is no correct explanation for the ending. It is simply down to the individuals interpretation, which for this film, works perfectly.

      It would be interesting to hear from the writers, directors and producers of the film and find out exactly what the film portrays.

      My viewpoints on the film are based on logical comparisons with our understanding of physics. But because its a film our laws of physics don't have to apply, so anything is possible.

      We could all be wrong lol!

  • Saraya

    I hate to burst everyone's bubbles here..yet there's far too much squawking over theories that are irrelevant. I'm really dissapointed in two things :

    A) The utter lack of logic used by the writers
    B) The utter lack of logic used by the audience

    The majority of viewers are resorting to the fail-safe that is 'multiple/alternate reality' theory. Which is nonsensical in this context.

    The movie and logic itself indicate that the machine/source code simply allows one brain to access the last eight minutes of another. This is useful because it can provide vital information that would otherwise be lost.
    That's it..and it's a great concept for a film.

    Nothing about the machine's purpose whether stated or in the undertones, has anything to do with M-theory, String-theory, multiple universes, alternate realities and anything of that such nature. Nor does it have any relation to time travel.

    If the film had been about a dead guy who accesses another dead guy's brain for information, that would have been fine.

    But it's not - it's some extremely far fetched fiction that has no way of explaining itself, and nor does it bother to.

    Viewers cannot seem to accept that the writing is just full of holes and are resorting to fictional quantum physics theories in order to justify it.

    The film was good until Captain Stevens decided to get altruistic and somehow think that he could 'save' people whom were already dead. They should have just had him figure out the information about the bomb and then ended the film.

    Ultimately, because they kept it going, there is no explanation - it simply is what it is, terrible writing from that point on.

    Do yourself the favor and accept it.

    • Rian

      Your argument is biased and full of plot holes out of context and a bit authoritarian unlike free thinking sci-fi writers or the audience. I`d try and proof you wrong but I get a feeling you haven`t read many other people`s opinions.Wasn`t the best sci-fi film I admit.But if their were plot holes they were in your own mind.

  • Scott

    There are a couple liberties taken with science/logic in this film but it was still entertaining to watch and I would recommend it to friends.

    1. Just because Sean Fentress was on the train and they can access the last 8 minutes of his memories doesn't mean his memories would have any information on the bomb, it's location or anything else that he hadn't experienced in life.

    2. The only explanation I could find for the end, when Goodwin hits the button to turn off the life support, yet Colter continues on, is that he has died and gone to heaven and met up with Christina there.

    3. How in the main reality line do they even know there is a dirty bomb since it has not gone off yet? The only thing I could figure about this is that Frost (The bomber) must have called in to the authorities telling them about it before the train bomb went off (Letting him know he was for real, as they found out when the train bomb explodes). The authorities seem to take it as a fact that this complex dirty bomb really exists but there has been no way for them to confirm it, at least it was not explained in the film.

    I was actually thinking the film might have made a bit more sense if it he Colter were actually traveling back in time somehow. That way he could discover data that would not be present in Fentress memory since Fentress was never privy to that info when he was alive.

    Still really liked the film, very suspenseful and well done I thought. Let's face it; you're always going to run into these kind of paradoxical plot issues when dealing with a film like this - that's one of the things that makes them interesting IMHO.

    • http://www.crestiezoo.co.uk Liam

      Just to clarify a few points in relation to the 3 that you have raised. I will number them accordingly in response to you're post.

      1. Yes it does state in the begging of the film the Colter is able to re-live the last 8 minutes of Sean's memory. However we come to realize, after Colter manages to survive beyond 8 minutes off the train. Colter is also able to consciously decide to do things differently each time he goes back. If he was living Sean's memories then he would not have this freedom to choose what he does.

      So Colter was told he would only re-live the last 8 minutes, to prevent him leaving the train and continue to live in Sean's body (which he later does anyway). Think about it, they already said how rare it was to find someone compatible to use the Source Code, so they needed to try and keep him to continue to run Source Code.

      2. Colter has not died and gone to heaven. Think of the Source Code as a gateway, Seans Body is one door and Colter's is the other. Colter's consciousness is able to pass between the two because they are compatible. When Colter's body is turned off, it dies thus closing one of the doors. Colter's consciousness is unable to return to his body so if forced to remain in Seans.

      The real question is, where did Sean go. Did he swap into Colter? Or was he simply over-written, after all this is all Digital in origin and when you run out of storage space, you over write the original file. In this case...Sean.

      3. It could any number of reasons. I agree the bomber may have made threats claiming to have a second, larger bomb. Or it could have been an informant, or simply the CIA could have been watching this man and predict he has a larger bomb from his recent "movements". But to be honest, this isn't really too important to the film.

      Hope this helps a little ;)

      • http://www.crestiezoo.co.uk Liam

        Just to edit my last point:

        3. It could any number of reasons. I agree the bomber may have made threats claiming to have a second, larger bomb. Or it could have been an informant. It isn't really important, I don't think. Most likely I think they received a tip off, either from the bomber to either get press coverage to panic the public or like you say to make them believe a second much larger bomb is in place.

        Please ignore the last part of my original point 3 :)

  • sufi

    this movie are interesting but confusing,
    Can u explain to me what happen at the end??
    When goodwin receive e-mail from steven, the train has been bomb or not?? or the train was fine and everybody was ok??
    Goodwin receive the text before or after the train was bombed?

    • http://www.crestiezoo.co.uk Liam

      Goodwin receives the text in the alternate reality before the train bomber had been stopped. Which is why after receiving the text she saw it live on the News report.

  • Garcia


    For Cetics the movie ends in the wagon on the frozed screen.
    Your life, Identity, Personality, Consciousness, Your Whole Existence, is only part of your brain. Brain's dead = Life's end.

    For Believers your consciousness can be something more than your body and brain, if that's possible I don't know why there is so many people arguin about the movie "mistakes" you have to be able to acept the UNEXPLAINABLE or Whatever that came from the writer's mind.

    sorry for bad english.

  • dethstarr

    My theory: (I believe the movie actually explains and proves the afterlife/heaven theory)

    The reason why alot of people are having a hard time understanding Source Code is because there trying to analyze it from the wrong perspective.

    1.Stevens is NOT in the body of Sean. Steven is in his own body

    2.Sean and the whole situation regarding the bomb is NOT REAL…It is a virtual world that has been created around Stevens conscious and/or the little 8 minute gap within Steven's mind and here why:

    A.Lets say that the whole situation about Sean and the bomb was real..then how the hell did they get a hold of Sean's consciousness if he blew up with the bomb??

    B. Lets say for some reason if was still possible for them to recover Sean consciousness after all, it still doesn't make sense because Sean had no way of knowing who the bomber was. On top of that, Stevens could only experience those 8 seconds from the perspective of Sean and clearly that didn't happen because every time Stevens died, he created a new realities of himself within one whole reality based on his individual choices. with leads me to my conclusion..

    That the world Stevens is experiencing is NOT the TRUE reality.Its actually a whole new reality( world) created by he help of Stevens consciousness and the Source Code.That is why at the end, Stevens says:

    "If you're reading this email, then Source Code works even better than you and Dr. Rutledge imagined. He thought you were creating eight minutes of a past event. But you're not. You have created a whole new world"

    This also explains in one way why Stevens sees the face of Sean from the start because his reality, the projections and they way he experiences is all controlled to a certain degree. If they created all whole new reality for him then its highly possible that they can also control his SENSES within that reality aswell.Particularly his SIGHT.

    Now for me to further explain all this I have to go back for a moment and give you my definition of what consciousness is as simply as i can and here it goes as follows:

    1.Its an entity or something that's its aware of itself and knows its living

    2.Not only is it aware of itself, but also knows that its separate and different from everything else.

    Now where I'm trying to go with this is that the whole situation about the bomb/saving the world/Sean is all primarily based on those two principles.It was created to help Sean achieve consciousness within the world they have created for him. The reason why I make this conclusion is as follows:

    Let's say that that they were to create a world based on Sean's own memories and not the one mentioned in the movie, there will be a high probability that the project/mission would be a FAILURE because what will happen is similar to what happen to Cobb's wife in Inception. At some point within the reality, Stevens would have a hard time distinguishing whats REAL and what's not.Over time he would probably start to believe that the things that are happening really is happening and the LINE between whats REAL and whats FAKE starts to become blurred.

    The situation about saving the world/bomb/Sean is just a clever way of trying to "wake up" Stevens you could say within the reality they created for him. Its primary purpose was as follows..

    1"Wake him up"
    2.Give him a catalyst for him to continue with the "mission"

    Remember guys that if anyone wanted to go back in time and change "a past event" they have to be aware of the fact that's whats happening in going on in another SPACE and TIME and is not really "REAL" you could say

    Another question alot of people might have as well is "How is it possible for Stevens to find out who the bomber was"?

    That answer to that question is that I believe at the of day…not only do we have the ability to CREATE are own realities based on our individual actions but at the same time everybody else REALITY is also being shared with mines and vice versa for example…

    My reality(that one i am creating and projecting) + Everyone else reality = 1 Whole new reality combined

    This also explain how it was possible for Stevens to send the email/message to Goodwin because somewhere inside the world they created for him, there is a moment in SPACE and TIME in which both REALITIES (meaning the virtual and real) are connected and could influence each other. If that wasn't the case then there would be no possible way for Stevens to get in contact with the REAL world.

    So in other words the reason why Stevens was able to locate the bomb and stop it its because he had the help of everyone else's perspective in that situation plus his own.

    What people get confused is that Stevens is not creating different alternate realities separate from each other, he is creating different alternate realities within ONE WHOLE reality based on Stevens individual choices

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Ross/100001478530184 Nick Ross

    You nailed it! ... That's exactly how I see it. Just watched this movie a second time and wanted to check out any discussions on this movie... May I also add that the scenario the writers of this movie set up is geared such to spawn an infinite number of parallel realities growing at an exponential rate...and something like 99.99% of these "parallel" realities are completely identical to one another. Minus perhaps different positions of a few dead bodies from the train bombing due to Jake Gyllenhaal being in a different locations when the bomb goes off and whomever may have been in a different location as a result of his actions... but that's about it... each one of those realities would have its own source code program and each would send back Gyllenhaal creating even more realities with their own source code program and so on and so forth. The only realities with a discernible difference from one another are the ones where he got off the train.. the end where he stopped the bomb ... the fight with the Indian guy and the time he got shot near the bombers van by the bomber. Kinda silly but still mind boggling.

  • condro

    kowe do ngomong opo... sutradarane pekok...

  • SeenAll

    Ok Guyz, here's my take on it-

    Source code is only as a computer program, a simulation which is the making of Rutledge's team. The captain, Colter, is only a test subject. Although the film blows scientific principles severely, though, if we were to assume that the 8 minute experience and the EM theory is valid, what I see is that the conditions of those 8 minutes are embedded as data/input to the simulation. The entire experience is only Colter's perception/imagination (1). Colter is allowed to move through those conditions just like we move around in a virtual world created by video games, which also have pre-existing conditions which we are free to modify. Its like playing GTA, if he gets the mission done, then woohoo!!, gr8!! If not, then it's "Game over" for the poor man. So it is the 8th trial that Colter gets through for the completion of the mission. The bomb doesn't go off, and all is well for the peeps in that train. SO, Colter, continuing his quest, goes on exploring the future possibilities after finishing that mission, just like we'd continue to play GTA to the next mission after we are able to complete the last mission.

    Now, suppose in his next mission, or even in the previous mission, Colter does something which changes his progress, that is, makes a phone call, steals a car, kills a man, whatever, that particular act will be saved by the simulation, just like it would be saved in a game like GTA or Elder Scrolls. So, comparing that he sent the message to Goodwin during his 8 minute adventure to stealing a car or killing an extra/additional dragon in a video game, will have it's repercussions. So, considering it's consequence, that the message brings a change in Goodwin's attitude towards Colter's body (in Colter's imagination of course[refer to (1)]), can only alter the future in Colter's perception, but not the in the real world actually.

    So, actually, what the director has depicted in the last scene is nothing but Colter's(in Sean Fentress's body) perception of what is happening, but has nothing to do with absolute reality. Neither Colter has magically transferred his being in fentress's body, nor is their any actual parallel reality. It all depends on what Colter is perceiving. Although, people would argue that Colter was taken off life support in one world whereas he was seen living in another, so an alternate reality must exist. I debate that was there ever any parallel reality?? Colter was manipulating things in his dream as he saw fit. And frankly, the continuation of the movie after when Colter's life was ended by Goodwin, is only an image, of what might have happened if nothing was left undisturbed, and Colter was free to enjoy in this virutal world.

    And yeah, I don't believe in heaven/hell/afterlife. :-D

  • amy

    You've got it wrong - you are ignoring colter's last comment! that it works but it changed reality. I think he altered time. no parallel realities. Colter stopped the bomb, no one died and lived on in Sean's body. The next day when they come in and there has been no bomb it's because he changed the past.
    Does anyone agree?

    • SeenAll

      @Amy, use ur own brains to analyse it, not basing on what the characters have said it. We all know that almost every sci-fi movie has one of the dialogues by one of the characters written in such a way that it tries to test a person's take on reality. Colter's comment was similar to that. He says it's changed reality. But has it really? If u realise, the events of the movie took "after" the explosion, and the entire exercise was to prevent the subsequent attacks. So, what the jake Gyllenhaal did seemed pretty real to him, hell he is gonna be spending a lifetime in that virtual world. But thats not that has happened in the real world with you and I.

      So, I still stand by my GTA theory, and that the present has been benefited by Colter's efforts, but in no way has it altered the past. There is no point of a parallel reality. Its all in his mind.
      Peace out!

  • Liam

    Sadly not.

    You are overlooking the first few times he goes into the source code and on to the train:

    "its the same train, but different"

    There are small subtle differences with each passenger. And these differences would not happen if he was simply going back in time, traveling back in time would only change "sean" everyone else would remain exactly the same each time he goes back.

    And this suggests is a parallel reality.

  • Louise

    I understand that in the narrative reality, the people on the train had all died from the explosion and Colter's physical body was taken off life support.

    However, in the alternate reality where Colter's consciousness is left in Sean's brain, everyone was saved and he now lives in Sean's body. The confusing thing is Colleen in the alternate reality receives his message about the failure bombing and walks into the room where Colter is kept in the capsule and still alive. Doesn't this mean Colter's consciousness is alive in two places at once?

    For Colter to send a message to Colleen and for her to receive it they must be in the same reality.

    Even though he is living happily with Christina, what happens when Dr. Rutledge uses him in the source code for another project?

  • Louise

    The only way it makes sense to me is that at the end there are three realities.

    1. Everyone on the train died from the bomb but with Colter's help the police got to Derek Frost before he could use the other bomb. Colter's conscience is transferred into Sean Fentress's brain to save everyone from the first bombing before he is taken off life support and dead in this reality.

    2. Colter saves everyone on the train but as he is taken off life support, he dies but continues to live on in his virtual world or his "heaven".

    3. Right after Colter dies, I assume that Sean Fentress resumes life when Colter dies (since there was no explosion) so Sean & Christina are together in this reality. And because this is in the past before Colter was put in the source code, he is still alive in this reality.

    So it all works out, Colter does not exist in two places at once. His message got through to Colleen in the alternate reality because Sean's body did send that message and he is still alive, even though the conscience that previously embodied his mind is dead.

  • Moiyeah

    Did any one noticed that Colter sends the email message to Goodwin before he realize that sourcode is making a new reality instead of an 8miniute re-run. (this happens just before he talks to his dad on his last trip in the source code) He does not send the email after which should have been the case. A flaw in the movie script or editing.

  • Alex

    I'm confused. How can Colter's conciousness remain in Sean's body in the alternate reality if Sean ended up living because the bomb never detonated? Does that mean that Sean died but his body remained because Colter's conciousness took over Seans because of the source code? It makes sense of it's just a simulation, but it then it doesn't because of the way it ended. And the afterglow heaven theory can't be right either because how is continuing to exist in someone elses body in an alternate reality heaven? Sean had a family and new people and was suddenly taken over by Colters's conciousness. Did Sean's mind just vanish? What would everyone that knew him besides chiristina think of him? Colter wouldn't know anyone that Sean knew, it's like he took over his life and the fact that the source code creates alternate realities, wipes out conciousnes's and replaces them with already existing conciousnes's in the same reality is just freaky and confusing.

  • Tim

    I only got about half way through the comments so apologies if this has been said. People are wondering what happened to Sean but surely there is no Sean? They created this reality so the original Sean never existed. Nobody existed until they created them. Only Colter-Sean exists.

  • confused

    I really don't get the part where Colter was able to send the text message to Goodwin.

    How was he able to send that message from "alternate-reality (a reality created by the source code)" to Goodwin who's actually and obviously in the "real physical world"?

    • Apoel

      I am a bit confused as well but i think the answer to this question is that he send the email in the same universe as Goodwin received it. This is the universe that Colter lived after the explosion in Sean's body and this is the same universe in which he sent the email and Goodwin received it (thus no explosion took place).

    • understood

      now there are 2 worlds according to the movie.

      first, in which the source code has worked, colter is dead(as in terminated by goodwin in the lab) and just the train had exploded.

      And the second, in which colter resides in sean's body and is alive in the lab as well, source code has not been used (only goodwin knows that it has worked because of that message by colter), and the train has not exploded.

      these 2 worlds have different events going on.

      and if they plan to make sequel then it is possible that colter (as sean) might be able to meet goodwin in that respective world (lol , i guess i went a bit too far)

      thats what i understood from what author stated and thats what i feel is correct. cheers!

  • understood

    thank you very much for your interpretation. you did a great job.

  • Amanda

    I liked the film but my main problem was the existence of the alternate universes/time travelling in the first place. The premise was the source code allowed them to view a person's 'afterglow' last minute memories like you would watch back cctv footage not to travel back in time. If they were viewing Sean's memories then they shouldn't be able to change anything or explore anywhere that Sean had not been himself as they would not be a part of Sean's memories.

    Also he should not have been able to speak to people he hadn't originally spoken too as it's Sean's memories not the psyche of all the other passengers that are saved in Sean's memories so he couldn't possibly know what the other passengers would say or how they would react to him. He also couldn't know what the station was like when he never got off there.

    The film stated one thing at the beginning then went off on a tangent in the hope the audience would forget that the Source Code was for viewing memories only not for time travel/creating alternate universe. In that sense the whole plot falls down.

  • Ellis Mason

    Ok, first of all I feel like I should say that I did really enjoy this movie and I actually thought the narrative was reasonably straight forward. What did confuse me and kind of disappoint me was how the end was made out to be so perfect and happy, for two reasons; 1. Sean has died and Colter has just taken over his life? Is he even going to tell Kristina anything? 2. There was only a happy ending in 1 alt.reality (unless you count colter being able to die a happy ending), all passengers die in every other reality. Also, Colter was reliving the moment through one persons memories, which presumedly meant that he had no idea about any of the other passengers, their voices, things in their bag, bombs hidden on the train and he certainly wouldn't of known Derek frosts name, or about his van of explosives. The subconscious mind is underestimated, but it is not that underestimated.

  • Andre

    Remember that Colter asks Goodwin if she has ever thought of how her life would have been if she had made different decisions. This is an allusion to the ending where he--instead of Goodwin--makes a different choice for his life and it brings him to a whole other could-have-been Colter, also know as a different reality of the captain. The director seems to clearly point to alternate realities and parallel realities.

    I hope I find others that agree, or at least others who were enlightened.

    Great movie!

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  • Jackson

    But you seem to have missed the part in the end where Steven and Christina arriving to the plaza to the huge medal ball, which was an image that was constantly flashed everytime he was shocked into his 8mins missions. That would suggest that he was seeing a vision of something that was nowhere in history. That vision appeared only after the "killing" happened and he went into his "afterlife", yet he saw flashes of it before all that happened. So it seems like the source code transcends both time and alternate worlds.

  • Ali

    Christine went to get coffee and used her phone to find out on the web that Coulter had died 2 months earlier and broke the news to the Sean-Colter. How does this affect the alternate reality situation. Surely in each reality you would not find out information from another one using the internet?! I cannot find out if 'me' in another reality has just won millions and is in the newpaper! They run separate and in parallel surely?

  • Stachu

    THIS IS NOT A HAPPY ENDING. Read more and you'll see why.

    The film goes with the assumption that we have infinite parallel universes - they may differ as little by a single molecule of hydrogen in the other side of the universe being just a tad warmer, everything else being the same.

    The machine takes two brains - a driver, Colter, and a donor - Sean. Once source code is activated the machine finds the nearest similar universe, searches for a brain matching the donor and overwrites it with the driver's brain pattern. The machine then streams the stimuli from the other dimension back into Colter's brain.

    This means that each time Source Code is run a copy of Colter is inserted into the brain of Sean of a given reality. This obviously erases Sean. And whenever Colter dies in the parallel reality that copy of him really does die - however the "real life" Colter can remember the event since the machine streamed the other Colter's stimuli. They're both the same person essentially - like a program it doesn't matter where you run it, if the inputs are the same the output should be the same as well.

    So the "real life" Colter has an illusion of free will. Through Source Code he sees, smells, feels what parallel Colter does. Both Colters see the nasty terrorist. The parallel Colter rushes after him. The "real life" Colter responds in the same way - only that the "real life" Colter has no legs or arms and is paralyzed. He's experiencing the parallel reality and responding as if it was real, just like the parallel Colter, but his "soul" is still very much in the life support machine. He can't affect the parallel universe - he just thinks he can because both Colters are doing the same thing.

    Now this is why there's a time limit. Body chemistry affects brain function. Even though both Colters have the same brain pattern, they're in different bodies. One is in a healthy body, the other is half a body kept alive by machines in a semi-coma. Those changes affect how the brain work. For example Sean's body may have higher sugar levels, more oxygen, different minerals. This makes the Colter in Sean's body react faster, think different. Those minute changes compound and eventually the two brains desynchronize. The "real life" Colter doesn't notice an object the parallel Colter does. The "real" Colter goes forward, the parallel one stops and investigates. At that point the two brains become too distinct in their state and structure for the Source Code to maintain a 1:1 mapping and accurately copy stimuli from the parallel universe to the "real" one. The synchronization aborts and the "real life" Sean is disconnected from experiencing what the parallel Sean is experiencing, and goes back to his geodesic sphere - a primitive simulation of reality run by a computer, unconnected to any parallel worlds.

    So Colter truly does die. Several times in fact. He dies 7 or 9 times in the parallel universes in Sean's body and once in the "real world" in his own mutilated carcass when disconnected. Out of all those "instances" of him one copy survives in the Happy Ending universe. And it's not the original Colter - the original Colter is dead. The pause you see before the end is the last thing the "real" Colter sees before he's disconnected from the happy parallel universe. The parallel Colter lives on.

    If you think about it, the ending is pretty dark indeed.

  • mike

    no you're totally wrong.

  • Chris

    The Source Code will, in one (or many) reality(ies), never be used because it will have no problems to solve, because by being built, it automatically solves the problem it was built for in another reality...

  • Colter

    Hello everybody

    Great movie i think and my idea here it is:

    If Colter sends message to Goodwin and Goodwin should see it after message sent. Let's say in train Colter should live in 21st Feb 0700am.

    Goodwin should see the message in 21st Feb 0701am. Then when she was in the room she can hear them about solved problem. So Colter solved problem in 21Feb0700am.

    Colter diverts the future about happened things. in the movie while Colter is living 21 Feb 0700am Goodwin was living 21 Feb 0730 like.

    for Goodwin between 21Feb 0700 and 0730 things has changed. For Colter , he is living in Shan's body and his body at the same day. 2 Colter in same place i think i couldnt any parallel worlds.

    any idea? about my writings

  • Jasmine Quek

    What I would like to know is, where is Sean's consciousness?

  • James Paterson

    My view about the ending is that it doesn't make any sense at all and completely violates the premises on which the story had been based up to that point. What I think it's about is that Colter gets tired of being used as a tool by these military people and wants to do things his own way, in the belief that, in contradiction to what they tell him, he will be able to bring about the best possible result (to prevent the train from being blown up and to get the girl). So the ending is about Colter taking control of the situation in which he finds himself in. Thus we get a feel-good ending that panders to the part of our brains that tells us that, if we could do something all over again, we would be able to get it right.

  • John Edwin Jemmott

    In a way, this is a dark film because although Colter seems to go through this zen phase trying to make everybody feel optimistic and happy about life, and yet he basically steals Sean's life. As I understand it, if he had gone back to the narrative reality at the end of the 8 minutes, presumably Sean would have regained control of his body. I don't blame him for not wanting to go back to his own broken body and die or continue to be used for Source Code, but Sean is the real victim of this movie.