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FAQ for
Signs (2002) More at IMDbPro »

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FAQ Contents


A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Signs can be found here.

What is 'Signs' about?

A former reverend, Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), wakes one morning to find crop circles in his Bucks County, Pennsylvania cornfield (45 miles from Philadelphia). At first, he believes the circles are the result of pranksters but, as crop circles begin appearing all over the world, his children -- Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin) -- begin to suspect that it's aliens. His children are right.

No. Like most of M. Night Shyamalan's films, Signs was written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

What does the title mean?

Some viewers see the crops circles as the 'signs' that aliens are coming. However, the major point of the movie is not about an alien invasion but about the idea of coincidences and seeing signs from them. Graham sums up the point of the movie when he tells his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), 'People break down into two groups when they experience something lucky. Group 1 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 2 sees it as just pure luck, a happy turn of chance. I'm sure that people in group 2 are looking at those 14 lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation is a 50/50...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...But there's a whole lot of people in group 1. When they see those 14 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. 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?' Director M. Night Shyamalan verifies that on the DVD commentary when he says: 'Sure, people can say that the title 'Signs' stood for the crop circles, but the main theme and premise of the film consists of Graham's call back to his duty and family through signs. The signs are from God'.

What did the aliens want?

The film implies that the plan was to harvest people for food. This was the opinion of a news broadcaster, however, and not based on any direct communication with the aliens.

How does the movie end?

Graham carries Morgan upstairs to the living room couch while Merrill goes for his epinephrine. As Graham pulls in the TV so that they can listen to the news, he notices an alien across the room. The alien picks up Morgan, and Graham notices that he is missing two fingers, showing it was the same alien that he encountered the previous day and sliced off the fingers. Remembering his wife's words just before she died six months earlier, Graham tells Merrill to 'swing away.' Merrill grabs his baseball bat and begins swinging just as the alien sprays Morgan with his poisonous gas. The alien drops Morgan on the floor, and Merrill keeps swinging. The alien falls against a bureau and knocks a glass of Bo's undrinkable water on himself, causing his skin to turn red and blister. Merrill keeps swinging away, knocking over more glasses of water, as Graham takes Morgan and Bo outside. Graham gives Morgan his asthma shot, and it suddenly hits him how everything came together...Bo's water, Merrill's swings, and Morgan's asthma. 'That's why he has asthma,' he says to himself. 'It can't be luck. His lungs were closed. No poison got in!' Morgan begins to breathe and opens his eyes. 'Did someone save me?' he asks. Wiping away his tears,' Graham replies, 'I think someone did.' In the final scene, it is winter, snow is falling, and Reverend Hess is putting on his clerical collar.

It's possible, but the most likely explanation is that it was locked in Ray Reddy's (M. Night Shyamalan) pantry when the rest of the aliens took off, leaving this one behind. He then went back to the cornfield with the crop circles in it, hoping to find his comrades. Since that was Graham's field and his house was sitting right next to it, the alien went into the house to feed, whether by coincidence or divine plan.

Three questions to consider: What kind of environment did they come from? What are the rewards for coming to earth? How much did they know about earth before they arrived? People live and thrive in inhospitable environments on earth all the time. The sea is very unforgiving, but sailors manage to survive. Deserts and the Arctic north are very nasty places to live but people are there as well. The concept of aliens coming to Earth and finding a hostile environment is not new in film and literature; consider The War of the Worlds (1953), where they didn't anticipate that germs, like the common cold, could kill them.

Water vapor may have affected the aliens, but this is not shown in the film. Liquid water is more concentrated than that of water vapor and was shown to have a corrosive affect on their skin. Possibly, as the relative humidity approached 100%, the aliens would be at greater risk. Based on the radio report, the aliens left behind were injured in some way. It can be argued that these were the aliens that were most severely affected by water. The rest may have been able to tolerate small exposures.

Terrestrial lifeforms are all composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus elements, which were (and still are) abundant when life started to exist on Earth. Liquid water is also abundant and serves as the main solvent for the organic compounds within terrestrial lifeforms. Water serves as a source of chemical energy and can dissolve both positively and negatively charged particles, which makes water an essential condition for life on Earth. However, other elements and solvents could theoretically be the basis of life as well. Ammonia is another possible solvent, although its characteristics are less favourable than water. As excess ammonia is harmful to terrestrial lifeforms, too much water could also be toxic to ammonia-based lifeforms. In very rare cases, there have been terrestrial beings, including some humans, who have shown an intolerance or allergy to water, so it's a possibility that a race of extraterrestrial beings could do the same.

They were armed. They had a gas weapon that appeared to be part of the alien's arm (or suit), like a snake spitting venom or like a human using teeth or fingernails as weapons. Hubris, ignorance, and/or stupidity may have prevented them from carrying more advanced weapons. Given their level of technological superiority, they may not have considered humans much of a threat and so armed themselves accordingly. The film references this aspect explicitly. As Morgan is giving his father an outline of the information he has gleaned from a book on aliens, Hess asks Morgan, 'Did this book of yours say what might happen if they were hostile?' 'Yes,' Morgan replies, 'it said they would probably invade. They wouldn't use their technology or fight in airborne battles, because they know eventually we would use nuclear weapons, and the planet would be useless to them.'

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