Signs

Cast
Father Graham Hess: Mel Gibson
Merrill Hess: Joaquin Phoenix
Morgan Hess: Rory Culkin
Bo Hess: Abigail Breslin
Officer Caroline Paski: Cherry Jones
Colleen Hess: Patricia Kalember
Radio Host: Jose L. Rodriguez
Buena Vista Pictures presents a film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Running time: 120 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for some frightening moments).

Central Theme
Each of us must decide if we are alone in an impersonal, random universe, or if there is an intelligence and purposefulness in the universe and our individual lives.

Story
Enter the theatre thinking this is a movie about crop circles. Leave the theatre knowing this is a film about belief. This is a film where the storyline is less important than the engagement of your heart and mind in an exploration of the metaphysical. Signs refers not only to the crop circles and mysteries associated with them, but to the myriad of everyday occurrences that often go unnoticed, but are a pathway to understanding the deeper meaning of life.

Mel Gibson plays a former clergyman, Father Graham Hess, whose faith has lapsed due to a personal tragedy in his life six months earlier. Where was the all-loving, all-powerful God in this situation? Hess refuses to pray because He has concluded we are all alone in the universe. He re-engages questions of belief when the mysterious phenomena of crop circles on his property are experienced worldwide and the whole planet recognizes that there may be aliens visiting Earth and they may seek to do us harm.

Shyamalan’s preoccupation with the spiritual and attentiveness to belief drives the story and filming. His production company is named Blinding Edge Pictures and he believes there is a blinding truth that goes unnoticed by most. From the opening black and white credits light is used to symbolize a purposeful and good presence. The repeated use of stars, sun and moon (curtains, shutters, gazebo, wind chimes) symbolize the elemental symbols harnessed by all religious traditions. The faded outline of a cross in Hess’s home reminds us of a symbol he once embraced that has now faded in his life, but its faint outline is still there on the wall as it is in his life. The younger kids and Hess’s younger brother are all more attuned to the spiritual than the father. Pluralism is subtle but near the end we learn that three small villages in the Middle East figured out how to defeat the aliens. Hess puts on the collar and believes, but in what? One senses Shyamalan does not care so much about the specifics He just want us to believe.

Beliefs num
–Everything happens for a purpose.
–There are no accidents.
–There are miracles in which ¢â‚¬Ëœsomeone saves us.’
–There is a miracle granter.
–Prayer is real communication.
–Belief is key.
–Crop circles are made by aliens.
–Aliens seek to do us harm.
–There two kinds of people. Those who think everything is random and without an underlying purpose and those who believe there is a grand design, a deeper plan and ‘someone’ watching out for us.
–The specifics of what you believe aren’t as important as belief.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Are our lives guided by random accidents, or is there a pattern, a deeper plan to it all?
–Is there someone out there watching over us?
–Do you believe everything happens for a purpose?
–Does it matter ¢â‚¬Ëœwho’ you believe in or what or is the important thing just belief?
–Are crop circles all of human origin or are there some whose source remains unknown?
–Could crop circles be the work of aliens?
–Do you believe UFO’s might be alien visitors to our planet?
–What do you think of the theory that they are actually demonic creations designed to attract our attention away from God?

Provocative Quotes byline
–I think God did it.
==Morgan, when he sees the crop circles.
–It’s contaminated, it tastes funny, and it has dust in it.
==Bo’s fear of water that is not pure
–There’s a monster outside my room. Can I have a glass of water?
==Bo, in middle of night.
–Please stop calling me Father. I’m not a Rev. anymore. I haven’t been for six months.
==Hess, to cop and girl at store.
–Why do you talk to mom when you are by yourself? Does she talk back? She never answers me either.
==Bo to Hess, wanting to know if mom ever answers back when he talks to her at night.
–Excluding the possibility that a female, Scandinavian Olympian was running around our house last night, what else might be a possibility?
==Merrill, to cop looking for explanation for intruder on the Hess property.
–Either this is one of the most elaborate hoaxes ever created or basically it is real.
==Journalists’s conclusion after crop circles show up worldwide.
–They’re trying to sell soda, plain and simple.
==Skeptic about news reports of crop circles.
–I’ve got it figured. It’s called probing. It is a military procedure. Not to engage but to evaluate the situation ¢â‚¬¦make sure things are all clear for the rest of them..
==Military recruiter to Merrill.
–We’ve got to tape this. Listen Bo this is very important. Everything people have written about in science books is going to change. The history of the world’s future is on the TV right now.
==Morgan, when lights over India are viewed on TV.
–100’s of 1000s have flocked to temples, synagogues and churches, God be with us all.
==Newscaster announcing impending attack.
–There are two reasons why ET’s would visit us. To make contact in the spirit of exploration and research and further the knowledge of the universe, or the other reason. They’re hostile. They’ve used up all the resources on their plant and they’re harvesting the resources on our planet.
==Morgan.
–Most of the ride home there wasn’t a car in sight the road in either direction, If I’d fallen asleep then, I’d have ended up in a ditch. It had to be at just that right moment¢â‚¬¦that 10-15 seconds. It was like it was meant to be¢â‚¬¦ I guess if this is the end of the world I’m screwed. People who kill reverend’s. wives don’t get ushered to the front of the line in heaven.
==R. Reddick, vet who hit Hess’s wife
–Some people think this may be the end of the world, Do you think it could be?
==Merrill to Hess who answers ‘Yes’.
–People break into two groups when they experience something lucky. Group number one sees more than a coincidence. They see it as a sign¢â‚¬¦evidence that there is someone out there watching out for them. Group # 2 sees it as just pure luck. A happy turn of chance. I’m sure people in group #2 are watching those 14 lights in a very suspicious way. For them the situation isn’t just 50/50…it could be bad¢â‚¬¦could be good. But deep down they feel that whatever happens they are on their own and that fills them with fear. But there’s a whole lot of people in group #1. When they see those 14 lights they’re looking at a miracle¢â‚¬¦and deep down they feel that whatever is going to happen there’ll be someone there to help them and that fills them with hope. What you’ve got to ask yourself Merrill is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs? Sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or look at it this way. Is it possible that there are no coincidences?
==Hess to Merrill.
–I never told you the last words Colleen said before they let her die. She said see¢â‚¬¦Swing Away. You know why she said that? Some of the nerve endings in her brain were randomly firing when she died. She was remembering one of your baseball games¢â‚¬¦.There is no one watching out for us Merrill.
==Hess to Merrill
–Don’t be afraid.
==Hess repeatedly tells his family not to fear.
–They are out there we just can’t see them.
==Merrill, after the lights over major cities disappear
–What’s the matter with everyone? Eat. No we aren’t saying a prayer. Eat! I’m not wasting one more minute of my life on prayer. Not one. Understood?
==Hess in anger, when kids want prayer at dinner
–Don’t do this to me again. Not again. I hate you. I hate you.
==Hess to God, when Morgan can’t breathe
–Believe it is going to pass. We don’t have to be afraid. It’s about to pass.
==Hess comforts Morgan
–They left real sudden. Everybody has a weakness right?
Merrill reports that the aliens have departed.
==There a couple of things I can’t handle in this world and one of them is my older brother, who is everything I want to be, losing faith.
Merrill to Hess
–Three small cities in the Middle East found a way to defeat them.
==News report on TV
–It was meant to be. Tell Graham to SEE. Tell Merrill to swing away,
==Hess’s flashback, when again faced with danger
–It can’t be luck. That’s why he had asthma. his lungs were closed and no poison could get in.
==Hess, amazed that Morgan survived the poison
–Yes, someone did.
==Hess, when Morgan asks if someone saved him.
–The lesson that ¢â‚¬ËœSigns’ imparts is ubiquitous in the culture. The movie’s fuzzy pop-spiritualism carries a disturbing implication. Unless you have faith (in something tactfully left unspecified), it says you are putting the integrity of your family and the very lives of your children at risk, and you no longer deserve to be called father as if skepticism, or indeed any but the most literal-minded expression of belief, were a form of child abuse. But Mr. Shyamalan never gives us anything to believe in.
==A.O. Scott, New York Times film critic.
–Signs plants Sci-Fi seeds, but its harvest is spiritual.
==Nancy DeWolf Smith, Wall Street Jornal film critic.
–There is a spiritual patness, as it were, a tying up of loose ends, that can be twice as vulgar as it’s narrative equivalent; look at the very last scene of ‘Signs’ and you will see what I mean.
==Anthony Lane, New Yorker review.

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