Spaceman Ending Explained: Making Sense of Hanus the Spider and the Chopra Cloud


This Spaceman article contains spoilers.

Jakub Procházka (Adam Sandler) has lofty goals. The first astronaut in the Czech Space Program, Jakub is on a year-long solo mission to study a strange violet phenomenon in deep space, dubbed the Chopra Cloud. “As I enter the Chopra cloud,” he tells the public via video-link from his ship the Jan Hus-1 (named from the 14th century proto-Protestant theologian), “I might just unravel some secrets of the universe.”

Despite Jakub’s grand ambitions, Spaceman director Johan Renck and screenwriter Colby Day, adapting the novel Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar, intend instead to explore the mysteries of the human heart. Jakub spends more time thinking about the death of his informant father and his estrangement from his pregnant wife Lenka (Carey Mulligan). Of course a lot of that soul searching comes via Hanuš, a giant telepathic spider who arrives to help heal Jakub’s distress.

Despite a wonderful and gentle voice performance from Paul Dano, Hanuš is essentially an exposition machine that explains everything going on in Spaceman. But Renck also draws from Andre Tarkovsky’s Solaris and other slow sci-fi films, which results in some surreal moments that could use further unraveling. Here, then, is what’s going at the end of Spaceman.

Is Hanuš the Giant Spider Real?

Named for a Czech scientist that Jakub learned about from his father, Hanuš claims that he’s been drawn to the meditative sounds in the Jan Hus-1. But is he real or a figment of Jakub’s unraveling mind?

Speaking with GQ, Renck minced no words about Hanuš’ origin. “[H]e’s one-hundred-percent real,” Renck said. “The minute Hanuš is not real, the whole film loses its meaning.” That doesn’t entirely track with what we see on screen, including the spider’s first appearance, in Jakub’s dream about a tiny Hanuš crawling under his skin and exploding through his mouth. But that can be explained away as either artistic license or the effect of Hanuš probing Jakub’s mind to make a connection.

Hanuš serves as Jakub’s counselor and confessor, helping the astronaut recognize his guilt and bad habits. Again, these developments usually end with Hanuš explaining in very simple terms the movie’s themes. When Jakub’s tells a dying Hanuš that he’s scared to learn about the spider’s fate, the latter responds, “Why fear a truth? This is not the way of my kind, but it is the way of humans.”

While the value of Hanuš’ insights might vary from viewer to viewer, they work on Jakub, who not only gets a big eight-legged hug from his new buddy but nearly compromises his mission by going out into the Chopra Cloud to save the alien alienist. Sadly, it fails and Hanuš calmly meets his end, getting devoured by the maggot-like creatures who destroyed his race.

Wait, What About the Chopra Cloud?

On paper, the mystery of the Chopra Cloud drives the plot of Spaceman. It’s why the Czech Space Program exists, why his Commissioner Tuma (Isabella Rossellini) sends him on the mission.

As the ship nears the cloud, glowing purple light particles start to phase through the hull and into Jakub’s living space. After staring at the effect with wonder, Jakub tries to grab one in a jar. “It cannot be held,” Hanuš observes when the particle phases through the jar and Jakub’s hand.

As annoying as Hanuš’ captain obvious routine is, it does come in handy for understanding the Chopra Cloud. When Hanuš and Jakub leave the Jan Hus-1 to explore the Cloud, the spider explains the function of the fuzzy purple CG space around them. “Skinny human, this is it,” Hanuš tells Jakub. “This is everything. This is the beginning and the end… Every vibration of all time, it is contained here.”

While Hanuš does get a bit more flowery here, Spaceman isn’t quite ready to stop being literal. As Hanuš explains how all of time collapses in the cloud and every moment of his life can be found there, Renck adds images and sound effects to clarify any confusion. “Your past and your future,” Hanuš continues, and we hear young Jakub calling for his father. “Your Lenka,” he continues, and we hear Lenka repeat a phrase she says throughout the movie, “I go where you go.”

As a scientific phenomenon, the Chopra Cloud contains all of reality. How? It doesn’t matter, because Spaceman is more interested in the Cloud as a thematic metaphor. On that level, the Chopra Cloud helps Jakub look back on his entire life and get the clarity he needs to move past his childhood trauma and open himself emotionally to Lenka. And then, like every other therapist, Hanuš pronounces that their time is up and dissipates, leaving Jakub with some practical steps to take when he gets back home.

Do Jakub and Lenka Get Back Together?

Spaceman regularly cuts from Jakub and Hanuš in the Jan Hus and to random scenes, often shot in a fish eye lens. Fairly quickly, we realize that these are memories, brought to the fore as Hanuš probes Jakub’s mind. And the movie also follows a very pregnant Lenka in the present, where she has left Jakub to live with her mother (Lena Olin). So if Spaceman is all about Jakub learning how to put down his boarders and let someone in, you can probably guess that, yes, they do get back together.

Sort of. At the end of the movie, while Jakub floats through the Chopra Cloud, untethered from the Jan Hus with no way to get back, we cut to Lenka on Earth. She walks through a grassy field and sees a purple Chopra particle float upward. As she watches its ascent toward the heavens, we cut to Jakub in space, with Chopra particles all around him. The movie cuts to its opening image, with Jakub in a spacesuit and Lenka dressed like a princess, mirroring the outfits they wore when they met a costume party.

In that moment, we understand that the Chopra Cloud has shortened the time of the duo’s relationship, making all of their love and suffering happen in an instant. The Cloud allows the couple to bridge the physical and emotional distance between them, giving them the chance to reaffirm their relationship, despite all that’s gone wrong.

It’s a pretty beautiful and poetic moment, one that finally takes advantage of the strange sci-fi trappings that Spaceman has been flirting with. Plus, Hanuš is dead now, so there’s no one to explain it all!

Well, for a moment anyway. Because that’s when a South Korean ship arrives, a product of the Czech Space Program’s rivals, and rescues Jakub. The movie ends with him calling Lenka and apologizing, with the two confirming their life together.

So, yes, against Kalfar’s novel, Spaceman does end with Jakub and Lenka reconciling, presumably to reunite when he gets back to Earth. And if, they, like every other couple, have anymore problems, they can just jump back in a ship and find a space spider to explain it all over again.

Spaceman is streaming on Netflix now.

The post Spaceman Ending Explained: Making Sense of Hanus the Spider and the Chopra Cloud appeared first on Den of Geek.

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