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Signs (2002) Poster

(2002)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Trademark (3)  | Spoilers (11)
The artwork in the book about extraterrestrials was actually done by writer and director M. Night Shyamalan's daughter, Saleka Shyamalan.
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The stories of the children's birth are actually the stories of M. Night Shyamalan's two children.
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Joaquin Phoenix replaced Mark Ruffalo, who had to pull out of the film due to a brain tumor. It was later found to be benign.
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The production used a new watering technique to make the corn grow faster, which the Delaware Valley agricultural college was then very keen to adopt for themselves.
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The crop circles are real, as M. Night Shyamalan doesn't particularly like using CGI.
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M. Night Shyamalan wanted Mel Gibson because he's "the guy you believe would protect his family at all costs."
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Mel Gibson didn't realize Shyamalan was playing the vet until the day that they came to shoot their scenes together.
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The "Brazilian Video" was shot with a household camcorder by M. Night Shyamalan himself.
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M. Night Shyamalan considered calling the movie "The Alien Bulletin" or "Visitors" before settling on "Signs."
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M. Night Shyamalan was so secretive about the script that Mel Gibson joked it "came with a padlock."
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M. Night Shyamalan insisted that the film posters be released without showing Mel Gibson's face, as it is an ensemble piece, and that it didn't refer to The Sixth Sense (1999), as it's an entirely different movie.
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M. Night Shyamalan said that this was the easiest of all his movies to write and direct.
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M. Night Shyamalan's scene, in which he talks to Hess about the death of his wife, was shot a day after a member of Shyamalan's family died.
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M. Night Shyamalan cites The Birds (1963), Night of the Living Dead (1968), and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) as the influences for this film.
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This was an unconventional role for Mel Gibson, who says he doesn't play characters so "introspective."
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Graham Hess was originally written as an older character. Paul Newman was offered the role, but turned it down, as did Clint Eastwood.
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The dramatic dinner table scene was filmed in only three hours.
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M. Night Shyamalan had the cast watch The Birds (1963) several times during production.
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Rather unusually, James Newton Howard started scoring the film before it had been shot, as he was able to work from M. Night Shyamalan's detailed storyboards.
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When he first read it, Mel Gibson said he "couldn't put the script down. It's suspenseful from the first frame."
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Mel Gibson's name was listed on the call sheet as "Lem Nosbig" to throw off any non-crew members wanting to know what days he'd be on the set.
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The "Brazilian Video" was shot in Miami, but the children were all Brazilians. A Portuguese couple was also brought to play their parents, but M. Night Shyamalan decided not use them, because he noticed that their accent was totally different. Brazilian portuguese and portuguese from Portugal are actually two different languages.
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The pantry scene took three weeks to film.
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The film grew out of M. Night Shyamalan's idea to show an alien invasion from the point of view of one family.
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Mel Gibson said that standing in front of the actual circles is awe-inspiring and "it helps you get into character."
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Just after the DVD is inserted into the player, and immediately after the Touchstone logo, a dark, fuzzy image appears in black and white, very quickly. It is a movie still, with Merrill, Morgan, and Bo sitting on the couch with the aluminum hats on their heads. The picture is shown even faster when "Play" is selected.
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Abigail Breslin's film debut.
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Composer James Newton Howard was asked to purposely reference classic film scores from similar genres, such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Psycho (1960). The opening music and main three-note motif is strikingly similar (a probable reference) to both the theme of Psycho (1960) and the theme of The Twilight Zone (1959).
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The birthday party scene in this movie has been named one of the scariest scenes of all time by movie critics.
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In the part of the "Brazilian Video" the anchorwoman says the video was taped in Passo Fundo city that means "Deep Step", and what the boy's saying all the time is "It's behind that garage".
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According to M. Night Shyamalan the movie's title has two meanings. "One is the crop signs, but it is also about faith and the existence of signs from above."
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The scene in which Graham has his last conversation with his wife, was scheduled for September 12, 2001, and was filmed after a cast and crew candlelight vigil.
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M. Night Shyamalan called this his "most popcorn movie."
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M. Night Shyamalan set the film in cornfields, because the stalks are taller and more ominous than wheat.
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Mel Gibson is 19 years older than Joaquin Phoenix who plays his brother.
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M. Night Shyamalan didn't want the trailers to make any reference to The Sixth Sense (1999) because he felt it didn't trust what was to come next, that it didn't give the film its own life, and audiences would assume Signs was exactly the same type of film as The Sixth Sense.
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One of the opening scenes shows the cornfield, swing set, and table at night through a pane of glass; crickets can be heard softly chirping as the camera pans backward into the bedroom. Suddenly, they stop chirping and Rev. Hess awakes, startled. The crickets motif is used several times in the film to lend an eerie air to the scene, much as the unnatural cawing in The Birds. Anyone who lives in the countryside or has gone camping is familiar with the cricket. They are the "alarms" of the forest - they "hear" vibrations, so when someone...or something...approaches, they go quiet. Their chirping is an "all's well!"; when they go quiet, you know that danger may be near...
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Only the scenes in the bookstore and the pizza shop were filmed in Newtown (Bucks County), Pennsylvania. The scenes of the house and cornfields were filmed on forty acres, that were leased to the film company by Delaware Valley College (an agriculture college) of Doylestown (Bucks County), Pennsylvania. After filming, the film company donated all the corn grown to the college's vegetable and fruit market. The house was built on the grounds and torn down after filming. Delaware Valley College is acknowledged in the credits at the end of the film. The drugstore scene was filmed in Morrisville (Bucks County), Pennsylvania.
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M. Night Shyamalan wrote the script over a period of six months.
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M. Night Shyamalan thinks the scariest thing in the film is that a good man could lose his connection with God.
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The film was shot on the property of an agricultural school, Delaware Valley College, where two areas of corn were already growing at different stages. The corn grown for the film was naturally further behind the other two areas of corn, so it was not a planned element.
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DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (M. Night Shyamalan): (Philadelphia): The action takes place just outside of Philadelphia.
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The prints hanging over the fireplace and Graham's bed in the Hess's home are "Stone City" and "Spring Plowing," respectively, by American artist Grant Wood (1891-1942), who is perhaps best-known for his painting "American Gothic." He co-founded an art colony in Stone City, Iowa in the early 1930s.
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Cherry Jones and Joaquin Phoenix also worked together in M. Night Shyamalan's next movie, The Village (2004).
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This film was shot in Newtown, Pennsylvania. The scene which takes place in "2 Aldo's Pizzeria" is really a family-run pizzeria called "Mom's Bake at Home Pizza".
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Johnny Depp was originally approached to star.
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M. Night Shyamalan also worked with cinematographer Tak Fujimoto on The Sixth Sense (1999). They would work together again on The Happening (2008).
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The scene where Merrill wakes Graham up in the basement the next morning has a different version of news played on the radios. This one features lights in the sky being talked about.
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3 out 4 of the Hess family members are played by actors or actresses who are the younger siblings of actors. Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, and Joaquin Phoenix are respectively related to Macaulay and Kieran Culkin, Spencer Breslin, and the late River Phoenix.
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Including Officer Caroline Paski, all of the main characters (the Hess family) have blue eyes.
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Although M. Night Shyamalan uses the motif of water to convey weakness of a character, and his character tells Rev. Hess that he's planning to go to the lake, because "it is known that they don't like water...", it's also a nod to other films in the sci-fi genre: the classic 1963 "The Day of the Triffids", in which carnivorous aliens feed on humans - and having been hit unsuccessfully with fire, chemical and other weapons - are finally vanquished by the simplest of elements - seawater! And, the more recent 1988 "Alien Nation", in which seawater behaves as an acid on the aliens' flesh and dissolves them, painfully. Or, as some would say, they were "liquidated".
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The aluminum foil hats worn by Bo and Morgan were actually made entirely out of chrome painted Beeswax paper.
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Vegetables are shown on the table that were being chopped with the shiny knife, shortly after Morgan's comment about the aliens probably being vegetarians.
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Roger Ebert, in his review of The Village, said the "aliens in Signs look like extras in long underwear".
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At the Parisian premiere of The Village (2004), M. Night Shyamalan was greeted by an American couple who were honeymooning in the French capital. Much to his surprise, the newly-wed husband whipped off his shirt to reveal an enormous crop circle tattoo inspired by Signs (2002) on his back. He had been sufficiently inspired by the film's optimism to get inked.
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James Newton Howard's third collaboration with director M. Night Shyamalan after The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000). Howard would be Oscar-nominated for his fourth teaming up with the director two years later for his work on The Village (2004).
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Having an asthmatic little boy character with an anxiety problem suck on an inhaler every time danger presents itself is an incredibly corny and cliched character detail. It's been used in this movie, also Goonies, Jimmy Neutron, It, and Superman Returns. Also Hitch the Simpsons Tv series. Friends, the tv show, used a variation on this when Janice starts breathing into a bag asthmatically as Chandler confronts her about having an affair. All of Me uses a variation on this when sickly Lilly Tomlin sucks on her oxygen inihalator from her hospital bed every time Steve Martin confronts her about something.
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Director Trademark 

M. Night Shyamalan: [things reflected on television screens]
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M. Night Shyamalan: [Acting in his own film]
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M. Night Shyamalan: [Home Invasion]
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The aliens were originally going to be invisible, but M. Night Shyamalan couldn't get the effect he wanted.
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Ninety minutes into the movie, the aliens have only been on-screen for eleven seconds. In total, they're only in the movie for about one and a half minutes.
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The aliens were originally scripted as having feminine builds and movements, thus the movements of tall, thin actresses were used as models for CGI tests, and some shots ("Brazilian Video"). However, it was decided that female bodies did not convey a threatening enough posture for the creatures, and a male CGI stand-in ended up being used in the final scene with Morgan, as well as on the rooftop.
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The script originally called for the aliens to have a camouflaging ability, much like the one used by the Predator in the Predator franchise. However, when M. Night Shyamalan's saw the ILM test shots of the creatures, he decided that it was too effects-heavy.
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The Hess family hides in the basement, which Graham Hess says was once used for coal storage. In H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds", the main character hides from the aliens in a coal shed.
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The scene at the ending where Mel Gibson pushes the tv set into the living room and then the alien's reflection suddenly comes into view for an audience jump scare is stolen from a very similarly shot scene in North by Northwest. When Cary Grant, looking at a television, suddenly sees an assassin pop in the reflection on the screen, coming up behind him.
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Unbreakable and Signs both directed by M. Night Shyamalan share common themes of someone having a weakness and that weakness being water.
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DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (M. Night Shyamalan): (car accident): Graham's wife died in a car accident.
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When Hess family are watching the TV about Mexico lights news report, can be seen Mexico DF at night with two formation of seven light points making two hexagons with center above the city. It's loosely inspired on the famous UFO sighting known as the "Phoenix Lights"; in March 13, 1997 it were witnessed by thousands people in parts of Nevada, other parts of Arizona, and even some parts of Northern Mexico an UFO formation in V above Phoenix, Arizona. Reported by diverse news channels, it turned in a global news in entire world.
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The movie is loosely inspired in a famous UFO case known as "Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter" happened in the Sutton farmhouse located in open field between the towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville belonging Christian County (Kentucky, USA). In the evening of August 21, 1955, the inhabitants of the house composed by Elmer Sutton and his wife Vera, John Charley Sutton and his wife Alene, Billy Ray Taylor and his wife June, O.P. Baker (Arlene's brother), Glennie Lankford and her children Lonnie, Charlton and Mary plus two sons from a previous marriage reported in the police station of Kelly have been a close encounter with little men whose were walking by the rooftop, hearing their footsteps above their heads, keeping a shooting against them for four hours. Worried about possible hostilities and a gun battle between citizens, four city police, five state troopers, three deputy sheriffs and four military police from Fort Campbell arrived to the farmhouse to find traces of the shooting made by the Sutton family but no one victim shot to dead. The authenticity of the close encounter remains controversial between the skeptics that consider it a fraud and an example of pseudo science and the ufologists and believers that take it as a true example of contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. The Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter established the concept of "little green men" (a term used by the press that covered the incident after some depictions of the witnesses) related to alien beings, turned it since then in popular icon of the UFO phenomenon. Eventually the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter was referenced in the Steven Spielberg's masterpiece Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), when UFO close to Jillian Guiler's house to abduct Barry, they two hear a footsteps above the rooftop of the house, with the camera focusing the room ceiling and aliens walking by the rooftop off-screen. Shyamalan's movie pays tribute to the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter and Spielberg's movie when Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) and his younger brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) run out of their farmhouse to chase a possible intruder, learning suddenly that the intruder jumped from the ground and it's walking on the farmhouse rooftop.
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The film was largely shot chronologically apart from the final scene where Mel Gibson's character takes his asthmatic son outside to save him. This had to be moved up the schedule as winter was fast approaching.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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