Christopher Webster [Celluloid 08.01.12] scifi thriller
Is M. Night Shyamalan's crisis-of-faith movie Signs
even about aliens? Are there even aliens in it? Was it really so "cheesy" that they were killed by water? Someone out there has made a pretty damn good case that what we think the creatures in the film are might be all wrong.
M. Night Shyamalan may have fallen upon hard times lately, but there are still some of us who consider some of his films to be, not only smart, but seminal genre pieces. As a writer his work is always extremely thought out, the symbols and allusions embedded within all pieces of a complex character puzzle. Certainly Signs and The Village prove this which is why they have always ranked among some of my favourite films.
But what if we were all duped by the very nature of Signs?
Let this theory blow your mind:
When I first saw this film, I didn't realize that it wasn't about aliens at all. It's about the return of demons. Notice it's all about a priest's resurgence of belief, and a preordained moment of redemption-if-dared-and-attempted. There is no alien technology or weaponry or clothing of any kind, only a clawed, naked beast creature and lights in the sky.
Furthermore: The running joke throughout the movie is that people see these "invaders" in a way that's related to their particular frame of mind: The cop sees them as prankster kids, the bookstore owners see them as "a hoax to sell commercials," the Army recruitment officer sees them as invading military, the kids see them as UFOs... and the Priest sees them as test of faith. This understanding of the film removed my hatred of the "You've got to be kidding me; they were killed by WATER!" concept. In fact, the priest's daughter had been referred to as "holy" (as revealed during Mel's key monologue)–recognized by all who saw her at her birth as "an Angel;" and her quite particular relationship to water is shown to be very special and spiritual: In other words, she has placed vials of what are, essentially, HOLY WATER all around the house. (And the creature's reaction when coming in contact with this blessed liquid is EXACTLY like monsters/vampires being splashed by spiritual "acid.")
This view of the movie also explains the creature's actions: They act like superior tricksters, are not able to break in through closed doors, can be trapped behind simple wooden latches –all mythological elements of demons and vampire-like creatures of lore. It also explains the news over the radio at the end of the movie that an ancient method of killing the creatures has been found "in three small cities in the Middle East" - one would suspect the religious "hubs" of the three main Abrahamic traditions, each discovering the "mystic methods" of protection-and-dispatch that I’ve noted earlier.
Note also: All the Christian iconography throughout the movie, the references to "Signs and Wonders" (the true meaning of the title), the crucifix shapes hinted-at everywhere (check out the overhead shot, looking down on the street driving into town) and the ultimate fact that the entire movie is built around a Priest rediscovering he is not abandoned to a random, Godless, scientifically-oriented Universe but, rather, is part of a predicted and dreamed-of plan.
Now –these creatures may for all intents and purposes be some sort of extraterrestrial or inter-dimensional "aliens" –but the point of the movie seems to be that they are, in the ACTUALITY OF THE FILM WORLD, the dark stuff from which all the character’s tales of devils and night-creatures were born.
So there you have it. This theory that the visitors in Signs are not aliens in the sci-fi sense that we're used to is fascinating to me. The theorizer makes a good case when pointing out how all the references and symbols point to religion and that the usual bric a brac of alien invasion movies seems oddly left out of the film. Of course, Shyamalan likes to strip all that stuff away in general, but I like this theory a lot.
What do you think?
The theory was found on Reddit
Signs / The Village / Sixth Sense
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Charles Widmore (3 years ago) Reply
I always thought there was something else going on in Signs other than just an alien invasion, but I could never put my finger on it. This theory sounds plausible, and makes Signs fit better into the sensibilities that gave us The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.
agentorange (3 years ago) Reply
Agreed. The nature of the film doesn't change, but it's amazing how seeing it as NOT an alien invasion movie shifts your perspective on what the film is doing and how well it works.
I love the idea that what you think the creatures are depends on what kind of viewer you are and what you like. If you love alien invasion movies, they are aliens. If you love supernatural horror films they are demons. Either way they serve the same purpose to the story. Personally, I'm drawn to this notion that they are demons.
Desmond Hume (2 years ago) Reply
Couldn't help but read this in Charles Widmore's voice.
Missing (3 years ago) Reply
This is very intriguing. I DO believe that demons exist, and that they try to 'trick' us by being so subtle that we don't even notice their interference into our lives. (and subsequently, make it harder for us to release from their grasp).
HERP2DERP (11 months ago) Reply
Really bro....You believe demons are real...
If you believe demons are real, i should at least get to believe darth vader is real
ToddDanza (10 months ago) Reply
Perhaps, in a galaxy far, far away he is real. So go for it.
Keith (3 years ago) Reply
I always loved the film and thought the "ancient water weapon" was a cop out type solution to the alien invasion. I did really enjoy how each little element of the film and flaw of the characters ultimately saved them. This new take on the film is very intriguing.
Marina (3 years ago) Reply
Agreed - there are some intersting ideas put forth by this reading of the movie. It's been a whilse since I've seen it but I'll have to revisit it at some point soon with this in mind.
loempiavreter (3 years ago) Reply
Oh I thought this angle was common knowledge? That's how a schoolbuddy of mine explained the movie to me.
guido_jenkins (3 years ago) Reply
interesting take on the film...for the spiritual, it does add a new perspective... for me, I dont subscribe to any religious beliefs and thoroghly enjoyed it as a really suspenseful sci-fi from the Shamalama...the concept of water being toxic to aliens is not new ... Day of the Triffids, Alien Nation...
Craig (3 years ago) Reply
If this theory is true--and it's entirely plausible--then it portrays God as a psychotic nutjob. Is this really how we want to think about the possibility of a God? A crazy deity who out of the blue sets demons on the world to kill children?
Sacrifice (3 years ago) Reply
According to Christianity demons rebelled against God with their own free will. God honors free will and so they are free to do evil. However, God still uses people and situations to fight them and bring about good.
To be clear, I am just stating what they believe. I am not defending that belief. That being said, I don't think calling God "a psychotic nutjob" is accurate when you take that into account.
Craig (3 years ago) Reply
Of course it's accurate. Okay, so here it goes:
God is all-loving and all-powerful and all-knowing. He allows demons to rebel for some purpose. Of course, they can't win because God's all powerful. And because God is everywhere and everything, he is also the demons rebelling.
So in SIGNS, the demons come and this is done so God can--what? Have the demons slaughter families unless they have a child with a natural gift for creating holy water? So the lesson is: Keep lots of holy water around.
Huh? What is the point? It sounds like the theology of this movie is there just to give a cheap thrill (oo, it's GOD) other than to actually saying anything worthwhile.
I consider this movie along the lines of other dumb religious films where you have guys with shotguns thwarting Satan, angels, demons, whatever. First, it's ridiculous a shotgun could thwart a heavenly being. Second, it's ridiculous we would want to stop Satan. After all, if God is bringing about the end of the world with Satan as part of the plan, why fight it? Shouldn't we help? I mean, at the end, don't all the nice kids get to go to heaven? Total crap.
For me, the best religious films in recent years were BOOK OF ELI and FRAILTY. No sap, with a nice religious gotcha that didn't feel forced, nor made me think God was a bloodthirsty schizophrenic.
Just my two cents. I'm sure there are those whose faith is wholly strengthened and restored because in the story a priest sees his daughter kill demons with holy water she created accidentally.
Sacrifice (3 years ago) Reply
Thanks for the reply. I enjoy reading philosophy and theology. I find it fascinating. Here are my thoughts:
God is all-powerful, he can do anything that is logically possible. However, he can't do something illogical or contradictory like make a square circle, a married bachelor, or a rock too heavy for himself to carry. So he can't do everything.
Similarly, he can't make a demon rebel. If he stops their free will or controls them in some way, then he didn't give them free will. So they are in fact working against his will.
In this case, I think my original point is still valid: God works with people who are willing to align with his will, because not everyone is working for his purpose.
I think "The Book of Eli" and "Frailty" are excellent as well.
Scape23 (1 year ago) Reply
Old comment, but compelled to reply regardless. You do realize God as portrayed in The Bible is a psychotic nutjob right? This is the same guy who used a bear to kill forty-two children for calling his prophet bald. The same dude who asked his people to plunder villages, slaughter their children and take their virgin daughters as sex slaves. The same guy who requested one of his followers to kill his only son to prove is loyalty to him.
So, God appearing to be a psychopathic douche nozzle who allows demons to kill children -all so an ex-priest in some small town can regain his faith- is pretty fitting, given the nature of his character.
Kord (1 year ago) Reply
Context is very important... Give it a try.
Scape23 (9 months ago) Reply
Context doesn't make these things any less screwed up and doesn't portray god in anymore of a positive light.
donc48 (3 years ago) Reply
Sign's is one of my faves. Your theory makes me think. I'll have to rewatch it and ponder it. Curious had M Night every metioned anything? The film has been out long enough.
wtf (3 years ago) Reply
i went to see the movie with some of my friends and left the theater about 20 mins after the film started (alone). maybe i should give it another try now.
Papaswamp (3 years ago) Reply
Sixth sense, Unbrwakable, Signs, Villiage, lady in the water....all good in my book. Hopefully AE will step it up.
shocbomb (3 years ago) Reply
Yeah Demons that fly in from space and sit in there mother ships over are major cities and communicate with one another with crop circles ? The kids book was a huge part of the movie and it gives us the reason in the book and pretty much explained how they will attack with hand to hand to hand combat with small recon forces. He also went on to say they don't attack with there technology that is hundreds maybe even millions of years ahead of ours. Even though I always thought that reason was as dumb as all hell. I just don't see the Demon thing at all, They were Aliens and he did a horrible job in my opinion with his Alien invasion story Also why is it so far out there that they could be killed by water ?There are a whole list of reason why first thing that pops into my mind is They could be non-Carbon based Lifeforms that water is like Acid to. Who knows out of all the things bad about the movie the water thing was the least of my gripes
Better... (2 years ago) Reply
The water thing was absolutely one of the stupidest "twists" in any movie, ever. Anyone with the slightest bit of intelligence or understanding would see how dumb it was. Finally, by seeing the creatures in the movie as "demons, maybe," at least that sort of mitigates the water problem. It's the ONLY way the movie can be anything other than a complete fail.
jackofdiamonds (2 years ago) Reply
There is a crap load of water in the air at all times. How can splashing water on them cause death, but breathing it in causes no harm?
MoPed (2 years ago) Reply
I liked the movie alot, but the water issue has been a major problem for me. Anywhere on Earth where there are clouds, precipitation and warmth, there is water vapor. The creatures would start burning as soon as they entered are atmosphere. And could aliens (or demons) be so stupid to not wear some type of suit that keeps out liquid water or water vapor?
dbears (2 years ago) Reply
deus ex machina anyone?
BluSpykz (2 years ago) Reply
No. "Lights in the sky" is not accurate. There was a physical presence IN the sky, hence the news recorded a pigeon that flew into it, got its head crushed, and fell to the ground, dead.
Mac17 (2 years ago) Reply
"So guys where should we invade? And remember water kills us!"
"I know, let's go to that big fucking blue planet, the one that's mostly water"
"Good idea Steve"
TRULIGHT (1 year ago) Reply
What would lead you to believe that "aliens" aren't demons...the fallen angels depictedin the Bible? And I don't mean in the sense that we labeled E.T.s "angels". I mean the vice versa. The possibility that we've created a false sci-fi "aliens" mythology around the reality of actual angels.
Biblically, fallen angels are confined to earth. You'd think that if what we see are beings that come from outer space, we'd see WAY more activity outside of, and further away from, earth's general area. But that's not the case. We see them HERE.
The bible describes fallen angels as rulers "of the air".
It also prophecies about them perpetrating some kind of grand deception on the whole world in the last days.
Research the COUNTLESS abduction stories in which the abductees state that the abduction abruptly ended when they started praying or spoke the name "Jesus".
Gebesis chapter 6 begins by talking about how fallen angels were mixing genetics with human women, producing hybrid children (the reason God flooded the Earth, according to the Bible).
What you picture when you think "angel"...that winged image is something WE created. the truth that we all may be outright overlooking is that we have no idea how Biblical angels look, how they travel, etc. Which means every sighting we've seen...we actually MIGHT have been seeing angels.
The truth may be stranger than fiction.
ToddDanza (10 months ago) Reply
It's an interesting theory. The only problem I have with it is all the foreshadowing indications you get that the creatures are afraid of water are suggestive that they are afraid of all water, not just holy water.
Either way though, I think the ending still ruins the movie. Even if these creatures are Demons, they're the weakest rendition of Demons ever to be written into a story. No telekinesis. No attacking from the unseen world. No possessions (well, there was the dog, but that didn't really come to anything) A baseball bat and a gas mask and you could take the lot on yourself. You don't need holy water or messages from the divine to defeat such a benign threat.
Still, it makes more sense than Aliens who can travel across the universe but can't design a waterproof suit.
Reason (8 months ago) Reply
"What would lead you to believe that "aliens" aren't demons...the fallen angels depictedin the Bible?"
Because the bible isn't true.
Adrian (6 months ago) Reply
I too don't see anything new here. Its obvious that this sophisticated and brilliant film is about the concept of 'faith' being tested when faced by threats that a personal God is powerless to prevent. Actual as in The death of a loved one and existential as faced by the fear of alien/the unknown/ demons. The priest looses his faith and then at the high point of the film there is a brilliant dialogue on the subject. The film is called signs because its about wanting receiving or interpreting things as signs from a God. "swing away" being the message from a God that empowers humans to over come their demon/alien.
Rohit (2 months ago) Reply
Why is there such a fuss about this movie being great or horrible? Right, because something that few people didn't really get what they expected. Tell them that if they don't like a movie, it doesn't mean it's really bad because there are a million others who loved it. And some people even say that the aliens' water weakness was a terrible twist or in other movies shooting and killing demons with a shotgun is ridiculous. Why? Have you tried pouring water on an alien and it didn't kill him? Or did you try shooting a demon with a shotgun and it didn't work? Maybe those aliens in the movie were in mays the exact opposite of us. Say for example, we need water to survive and we are killed by lava whereas the aliens need lava to surivive and water kills them. It's all speculation people. No one has really encountered demons or aliens to know what their weakness is. It could be anything. Learn to respect ideas people. It'll prevent misunderstanding.
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