Monday, 25 August 2008


I finally caught Signs (2002) last night. What a refreshing take on the War of the Worlds scenario!

I remember hearing some criticism of it because it didn't fit comfortably in the box of horror or sci-fi, but I felt that was it's strength!

I particularly liked the movie's take on faith - something I've often thought about in horror/sci-fi/thriller situations when people are pressed beyond their limits.

This central bit of dialogue is brilliantly written, and brilliantly acted by Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix:

People break down into two groups when the experience something lucky.

Group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them.

Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I'm sure the people in Group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way.

For them, the situation isn't fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they're on their own. And that fills them with fear. Yeah, there are those people.

But there's a whole lot of people in the Group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they're looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope.

See what you have to ask yourself 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 the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?

Phoenix's character then puts himself into group 1, a believer. Then - to our great surprise - Gibson's character puts himself into group 2:

There is no one looking out for us. We are all alone.

Not to give away any spoilers, but Signs is less about an alien invasion than it is about Gibson's character working his way through what he believes.

It made me think about life in general, and how my faith in God has often been borne out of an awareness of the otherwise overwhelming complexity of life.

Not that I've never disbelieved there is a God. In fact, sometimes, that thought can be kind of comforting. This world is all there is, and it's up to me what I make of it. But that thought only lasts for a brief while, and is only comforting when things are generally hunky dorey! :)

Major kudos to M Knight Shyamalan for tackling this most contemporary of issues in a genre (or genres!) that often ignores faith.

Having said all that, it was also a very human and funny movie, with great one-liners like "Everybody in this family needs to just calm down and eat some fruit or something."

In other movie news, Marie and I saw Tropic Thunder on Friday. Three-word review: best. laugh. ever!

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