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Netflix Journal: Signs (and Details)



  • Signs is a film that flawlessly marries theme and process/development. As indicated by the title, one of the core themes of the film is faith/belief. This theme is exhibited through the main character Graham Hess, played by Mel Gibson, opening the film as a character who has lost his faith. Once an Episcopal priest, after the accidental death of his wife Graham has renounced his faith. From the seemingly random death of his wife to her last words, Graham views life as chaotic and ultimately meaningless. Ie. adding up to nothing. 
  • From the beginning of the film the many details are presented fleshing out the characters, their circumstances, and putting their lives in perspective against the scope of the world. Though the film focuses on the rural life of the Hess family, putting the details together put everything into perspective. Every detail, every line, and every scene adds up to the dramatic conclusion. Morgan's asthma, Bo's water cup habit, and Merrill's tendency to swing away are just some of the details that come together in the final alien fight. Right when it clicks for the viewer it clicks for Graham Hess. 
  • The detailed nature of the writing/plot sets the viewer up for a kind of close viewing. When paying close attention, information can be communicated to the viewers through unqiue and unconventional means. Pieces of information from small talk or a TV program are taken in by the characters and relayed to the audience through the character's reactions. This is a particularly subtle kind of visual storytelling. You never get a narrator talking over the film or a character recapping everything. You just get the details, and you piece them together yourself. Another movie on the same level as Signs is Pixar's Wall-e. Save & Close
  • Because of the slow, constant presentation of details, the film has wonderful pacing. The slow build is similar to the experience I described in this post. The acting, like the rural life depicted in the film, is far removed from typical blockbuster/Hollywood acting. For all of these reasons, I find Signs very refreshing. 
  • As if there wasn't enough to like about Signs, the direction of Signs is something that is unique to M.Night Shyamalan. Aside from The Happening, one of my least favorite movies, I'm a fan of all of M.Night's films and greatly look forward to the upcoming Avatar movie that based on one of my favorite cartoon shows. 
  • The music is great too.

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