The Happening (2008) Poster

(2008)

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  • The Happening is based on an original screenplay by American director M. Night Shyamalan.

  • The Happening is a breakdown in individuals' mental state, beginning with mild confusion and memory loss, progressing to complete disorientation, mutism, and eventually compels individuals to commit suicide.

  • The happening is caused by the trees and plants in the Northeast section of the United States. In an apparent self defense mechanism triggered by years of pollution and global warming, plants release toxins that cause people to kill themselves. After a sufficient number of humans have been killed, the release of the toxin is stopped. After the epidemic, however, people are seen returning to their old ways of life and continuing to pollute, dismissing the epidemic as an inexplicable phenomenon. At the end of the film, plants in France develop the toxin in a secondary event closing with the presumption that more events are to follow unless humans heed the plants' warnings.

  • This is a popular myth in many circles, but science does not bear it out. What is known in such circles as the "Backster effect", named for the notion's originator, Cleve Backster, is the idea that plant emotions can and have been measured via a polygraph machine, and that the plants tested showed the ability to react to human actions and even intents. This study was first conducted by Backster in 1966; it was subsequently refuted in 1975 and again in 1977, the later scientists citing the original experiment's poor design and lack of controls: an overall pseudoscientific approach. With controls applied, no reactions were found in the plants tested. In actuality, plants lack a central nervous system and any sensory organs, meaning that not only would it be impossible for a plant to feel or respond to emotions. They would also be incapable of consciously detecting the presence of humans or assessing the number of members in a group of humans. Nevertheless, belief in plant perception continues to enjoy popularity.

    Being that every lifeform is like a machine to a degree and, more importantly, reacts to its environment, the mechanisms that comprise animals, plants, fungi, algae, microbes etc. are triggered by stimuli (e.g. sunlight). Any class of lifeform could evolve or adapt to respond in interesting ways to the overall human "signature" or that of man-made things (structures, substances or signals). It really has nothing to do with emotions, as the concept of "emotion" is generally understood to mean/entail. (Note: Not much is actually known about the physiological basis of emotions or why exactly it exists.) It's believed that some emotions can cause the body to release pheromones or other compounds into the bloodstream or otherwise, which in turn, are be deposited deposited in sweat which vaporizes and manifests as one combination of odors or another (even if too faint for the human sinus to notice). There are many other strange things the body can do based upon emotions. However, there is no correlation between particular pheromone/odor production and particular emotions.

  • No source for this quote has ever been found amongst Einstein's writings or in records of oral interviews with him, and Einstein was not a botanist or biologist of any sort. The quote was likely invented in order to bring awareness to the issue, by attributing it to a man whose name has become synonymous with "genius". This question is further explored here.

  • This is answered in the script more clearly. The plants affect people who give off "bad vibes." The first time the wind caught up to the group, they were unaffected. The girl in the beginning, the construction workers, the guy in France, and many other people were unaffected. It's probably because they gave off "good vibes." While only large groups were initially affected, the lone old woman at the end was poisoned because she was behaving in a hostile manner. Elliot and Alma were at peace with themselves, and therefore did not provoke an attack.

  • The mood ring was to show that the characters never gave off bad energy. That is why they remained unaffected. In actuality, of course, mood rings react only to temperature, which can fluctuate in response to many possible moods. On this matter, no exposition is provided in the movie.

  • There's a small backstory stated in the "making of" feature on the DVD: She lost her husband in a war years earlier, so she decided to isolate herself from society, ultimately turning paranoid. She was in the film to foreshadow how Alma could turn out if she continued to behave as she had been doing (not showing her emotions, isolating herself from her husband, etc.).

  • Alma somewhat regretted her decision to marry Elliot, so Julian's line meant that she should only take his child if she was serious about the responsibility.

  • At the moment when Julian asked the penny question, he was not affected by the toxin. The penny question is a math riddle. By posing a math riddle, Julian was hoping to counteract or negate the effect of the toxin by getting the vehicle's passengers to focus on something other than the fear of being infected. He was trying to take the girl's mind off all the dead bodies and keep her calm.

  • If you received a penny on Day 1, two pennies on Day 2, four pennies on Day 3, etc., you would end up with over 10 million dollars in a month (unless the month is February). Here are the amounts you'd receive on each day:

    Day 1: $0.01 (= 2^0 cents); Day 2: $0.02 (= 2^1 cents); Day 3: $0.04 (= 2^2 cents); Day 4: $0.08 (= 2^3 cents); Day 5: $0.16 (= 2^4 cents); Day 6: $0.32 (= 2^5 cents); Day 7: $0.64 (= 2^6 cents); Day 8: $1.28 (= 2^7 cents); Day 9: $2.56 (= 2^8 cents); Day 10: $5.12 (= 2^9 cents); Day 11: $10.24 (= 2^10 cents); Day 12: $20.48 (= 2^11 cents); Day 13: $40.96 (= 2^12 cents); Day 14: $81.92 (= 2^13 cents); Day 15: $163.84 (= 2^14 cents); Day 16: $327.68 (= 2^15 cents); Day 17: $655.36 (= 2^16 cents); Day 18: $1,310.72 (= 2^17 cents); Day 19: $2,621.44 (= 2^18 cents); Day 20: $5,242.88 (= 2^19 cents); Day 21: $10,485.76 (= 2^20 cents); Day 22: $20,971.52 (= 2^21 cents); Day 23: $41,943.04 (= 2^22 cents); Day 24: $83,886.08 (= 2^23 cents); Day 25: $167,772.16 (= 2^24 cents); Day 26: $335,544.32 (= 2^25 cents); Day 27: $671,088.64 (= 2^26 cents); Day 28: $1,342,177.28 (= 2^27 cents); Day 29: $2,684,354.56 (= 2^28 cents); Day 30: $5,368,709.12 (= 2^29 cents); Day 31: $10,737,418.24 (= 2^30 cents).

    The riddle is asking for the total amount that you would have received by the end of the month. So the exact answer is found after summing up these amounts (which, in this particular case, happens to be equivalent to subtracting $0.01 from the amount corresponding to the day *after* the last day). If the month has 30 days then the exact total sum would be $10,737,418.23 (= 2^30 − 1 cents), and if the month has 31 days then the exact total sum would be $21,474,836.47 (= 2^31 − 1 cents).

    The riddle is a variant of a well-known mathematical puzzle, known as the "Wheat and chessboard problem". This math puzzle is often used in education to demonstrate the concept of exponential growth.

  • There is no twist ending, but if there was then the most likely scenario is that the "plants" are going to start again as it's implied in the end.

  • Yes. M. Night Shayamalan and several other filmmakers, when shooting the film, stated that it was supposed to be a throwback on the 1950s & '60s B movies, but like The Birds (1963) (1963) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) (1956), both with epidemic as the theme, and story following a one band of survivors. The statement can be seen on the "making of" feature on the DVD. Another reason why Shayamalan might have revealed the movie was supposed to be a B movie the day before the movie came out is because he thought the audience would be smart enough to figure this out for themselves. While some did perceive it as a B movie (see here), the problem lays in the majority, who expected it to be another horror/thriller.

  • Director M. Night Shyamalan's first film in which he does not physically appear for a cameo. He is the voice of "Joey," who calls Alma a few times throughout the movie. The audience never sees him or learns of his fate.

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