- Signs (film)
M. Night Shyamalan
Mel Gibson Joaquin Phoenix Rory Culkin Abigail Breslin
M. Night Shyamalan
producer =Frank Marshall
M. Night Shyamalan
editing = Barbara Tulliver
August 2, 2002
runtime =106 min.
amg_id = 1:263250
gross = $408,247,917
"Signs" is a 2002
science fiction thriller filmwritten, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalanstarring Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, and Abigail Breslin. Although the plot revolves around aliens and crop circles, producer Frank Marshall said, "It's really about human emotions set in motion by a supernaturalevent." The film received generally positive critical reception and was one of the highest grossing films of 2002.
The Hess family lives on a farm in Doylestown,
Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Graham Hess ( Mel Gibson) is a former Episcopal priestwho lost his faith in God after his wife, Colleen, died in a horrific traffic accident caused by a veterinarian named Ray Reddy (played by M. Night Shyamalan). Additionally, Graham cannot come to terms with his son Morgan's ( Rory Culkin) asthma condition which causes great suffering. No longer practicing religiously, Graham and Morgan live with Graham's daughter, Bo ( Abigail Breslin), who has a strange habit of leaving unfinished glasses of water around the house, and Graham's younger brother, Merrill ( Joaquin Phoenix), a former minor league baseball star who never made it to the big leagues because of a habit of swinging at whatever pitch came his way.
Things are fairly uneventful in Graham's life until a mysterious
crop circleappears in his cornfield. Its origin and purpose is unknown; some townspeople speculate that it may be a prank while a few others think that it may have been created by intelligent alien life-forms. Meanwhile, reports of violent animal behavior has spread across town, supported by one of the Hess' dogs trying to attack Bo and Morgan.
As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Graham's farm is under watch. One night, he and Merrill chase a tall, dark figure who was spying on them from the roof of their barn. The mysterious being disappears into the crops, moving faster and disappearing far more easily than anyone can explain. Soon Graham and his family are shocked to learn that similar crop circles have suddenly appeared all over the world in ways too quickly to be merely a grand, elaborate hoax. Morgan takes a liking to a sheriff's radio walkie-talkie and she tells him that he can use a baby monitor but it will only work one way. He finds Bo has an old baby monitor in the basement and decides to take it into town. On their return home, strange noises resembling bubbling and clicking come from the baby monitor. Morgan, believing the sound to be aliens talking, climbs on the roof to get a better signal, but the noises soon go away.
That evening, Graham, investigating the other German Shepherd dogs barking, goes into the crop circle to investigate. There he hears the unusual clicking noises and glimpses what appears to be a long green leg disappearing into the corn. Startled, he sprints back to the house before looking back. He then tells Bo, Morgan and Merrill that they can turn on the television, something he had steadfastly objected to earlier. They turn on the news to discover that large, mysterious and unidentifiable lights have been spotted over Mexico City.
That night, Graham has a conversation with Merrill about his own faith. It's revealed that Graham no longer believes in God following the accident. He then says that there are "two kinds of people: those who see signs, miracles, and those who see coincidences. Which kind are you?" When Merrill asks him the same question, Graham does not answer.
Later, there is a flashback that shows Graham approaching the scene of an accident, still in his clerical suit. He sees his wife pinned to a tree by a truck, and the officer tells him that his wife won't live for long, being held alive only by the truck pinning her into place. The flashback ends.
The following morning, Merrill sees startling video footage on the news of an alien that was spotted during a boy's birthday party in
Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Graham takes a short visit to Ray Reddy's house, and finds Ray staring blankly out his car window and bleeding. Ray apologizes for the accident that occurred, tells Graham that "they don't like water" and that a lot of people have gone to the lake. Before driving away and leaving Graham in the driveway, Ray tells him that he trapped "one" in the pantry. In an extended scene, Graham investigates. He takes a carving knife from the kitchen and attempts to use it like a mirror to catch the intruder's reflection from under the pantry door. When he does so, fingers that are not human try to claw at his hand from the other side. Startled, Graham uses the knife to cut off the fingers and quickly departs.
Graham returns home and proposes to his family two options: go to the lake in hope that the aliens do not like water, or stay home. After a family vote (in which Graham says that his vote counts for two) the family decides to stay home and they board up all the doors and windows. While Graham and Merrill do this, Morgan and Bo watch the news and find out that the mysterious airborne lights are now visible over approximately 274 cities worldwide, appearing within a mile of crop signs, and the appearances are growing rapidly.
Before the family finishes boarding up the house, they decide to have their last full family meal, choosing their favorite foods. In an emotional scene, Graham holds his children and brother while they all cry, realizing how much the death of Colleen has affected them and how scared they are. Suddenly, the baby monitor begins making the familiar, mysterious noises. Graham checks the television only to see it's no longer broadcasting.
They then board up the last doors and windows and go to the living room, waiting for the aliens. The dog, who was accidentally left outside, begins to bark alarmingly, but is quickly silenced with a yelp. Soon after, something can be heard climbing onto the roof and getting into the attic. When Merrill realizes that no one boarded up the attic access door in the ceiling, the family decides to hide in the basement and use a
mattockto prop the basement door closed. Graham and Merrill manage to ward off an attack. However, something finds a way in through a coal shaft and grabs Morgan's neck, attempting to strangle him but is repelled, resulting in Morgan having an asthma attack.
The next morning, they hear on the radio that a method of fighting the invaders has been developed and they are now retreating, even leaving behind their wounded. Graham decides to venture out for medicine to treat Morgan's asthma attack the previous evening. Seeing that there is no signal coming in from the walkie-talkie, Graham and the family head upstairs. Suddenly and unexpectedly, they come face to face with an alien for the first time and it grabs Morgan before anyone can react.
As the alien holds Morgan hostage, the remainder of Graham's flashback to Colleen's death is revealed: she is still coherent as she dies and tells Graham that she loves him, to look after their children, and to tell Merrill to "swing away," referring to his love of baseball.
Back in the present, Graham sees Merrill's trophy baseball bat on the wall and tells Merrill to "swing away." Merrill grabs his bat and attacks the alien. As Merrill moves in, Morgan has another asthma attack at the same moment the alien sprays gas into the boy's face. Graham then rescues Morgan and Merrill quickly realizes that water is deadly to the alien. Merrill uses the unfinished glasses of water Bo left all over the house to defeat the alien while Graham takes Morgan outside and administers his asthma medication. Morgan soon recovers, his asthma attack having prevented him from inhaling the alien gas.
Realizing the Colleen's dying words meant something after all, and that they actually saved his remaining family's life, Graham's faith is restored. The final scene shows winter weather outside as Graham is back in his clerical suit preparing for church.
Mel Gibsonas ReverendGraham Hess
Joaquin Phoenixas Merrill Hess
Rory Culkinas Morgan Hess
Abigail Breslinas Bo Hess
Cherry Jonesas Bucks County Police Officer Caroline Paski
M. Night Shyamalanas Ray Reddy
Patricia Kalemberas Colleen Hess
Ted Suttonas Sergeant First ClassCunningham
DVD, there are some deleted scenes:
* "Flashbacks 1 and 2": Two scenes with Graham's wife, Colleen. In the first, she sits with a toddler Morgan and baby Bo in a rocking chair while Graham watches. In the second, she dances with him. She hums the same tune in both scenes.
* "The dead bird": With no sound, this scene shows Graham going back home from Ray's, and after a short time, a dead bird near the road (after supposedly hitting an invisible forcefield) is shown.
* "The attic door and the third story": The longest one, it starts with Merrill finding out about the not-boarded attic door. Despite Graham's efforts to call him back, Merrill goes up the stairs and manages to hold the door by climbing up a chair and putting his hands at the door. Trying to help, Graham looks for a way to hold the door. He gets a tall shelving unit, and places it under the door. Knowing this is only a temporary solution, Graham gets his family and takes them to a small room and puts some chairs at the door to hold the aliens out of the room. There, he tells the "third story", about Merrill, in which he broke his arm. Then everyone goes down to the basement, the only safe room available.
"Signs" garnered mostly positive reviews from movie critics. [ [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/signs/ Signs Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes ] ] , most notable of which is
Roger Ebert's review:
M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs" is the work of a born filmmaker, able to summon apprehension out of thin air. When it is over, we think not how little has been decided, but how much has been experienced ... At the end of the film, I had to smile, recognizing how Shyamalan has essentially ditched a payoff. He knows, as we all sense, that payoffs have grown boring. [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20020802/REVIEWS/208020305/1023 :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews :: Signs (xhtml) ] ]
Like all of Shyamalan's work, "Signs" is not without its detractors, with "Variety"'s Todd McCarthy writing "After the overwrought "
Unbreakable" and now the meager "Signs", it's fair to speculate whether Shyamalan's persistence in replicating the otherworldly formula of " The Sixth Sense" might not be a futile and self-defeating exercise." [ [http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117918322.html?categoryid=31&cs=1 Signs Review - Read Variety's Analysis Of The Movie Signs ] ]
It grossed nearly $228 million domestically and $408 million worldwide [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286106/business IMDB.com, "Box office-business for Signs"] ] at the
box office, ranking only behind " The Sixth Sense" in Shyamalan's box office success and grossing more than "The Village" and "Unbreakable" combined.
In 2004, it was listed as #77 on Bravo's "100 Scariest Movie Moments" for the
Brazilian birthday party scene.
* [http://media.movieweb.com/galleries/81/notes.pdf Movieweb: Production Notes]
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