Sunday, March 22, 2009
Spoiler Alert: This review reveals more details than my normal reviews.
Watching the trailers for Knowing, it seemed to me that the film might be something like Signs. That was a decent assessment, but Knowing took a very different route to get where it was going. I enjoy a good thriller as much as I enjoy science fiction. Both can be done exceptionally well but generally are not. Knowing presents a combination of these two styles in a well constructed film that delves into some deep waters at times. The film seems to begin as a thriller that evolves into science fiction. The evolution of the film could have been a bit smoother, but there were enough redeeming qualities in this film to have made it worth seeing on the big screen.
Knowing sets events into motion in 1959, when a time capsule is buried at the dedication of a new elementary school in Lexington, Massachusetts. Each child is instructed to draw a picture of what they think the future will look like when the capsule is opened fifty years later…in 2009. Fast forward to2009, we are introduced to an MIT professor who has lost his faith. John Koestler (Nicholas Cage) believes that events do not have meaning. Koestler lost his wife in a mass fire that claimed dozens of lives. Since that time, Koestler has subscribed to a belief in randomness. When the time capsule is opened, Koestler’s son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) receives an envelope that has a page covered in number rather than a picture. Although Koestler’s methodology is never discussed, he begins researching the page of numbers, only to discover that every major mass disaster in the past fifty years is outlined within the numbers. Three prophetic dates have not yet happened, but are looming near. Koestler feels that the dates are somehow connected to his son and sets out to discover if he can save him.
From a believability perspective, I had a bit of trouble accepting the premise of plotting every major disaster for the past fifty years. If you were to plot every one worldwide for fifty years, I think it would exceed the number portrayed in the film. Furthermore, the movie never examined how Koestler put the numbers together. Lets suppose he started with 911 as suggested…we could use a six digit date system to keep things consistent…091101. Following that number would be a four digit number for the deaths resulting from that incident. Then we have skipped numbers before the next event. Even if Koestler googled known events, he would certainly have missed some…yet he amazingly plotted every event to include the three getting ready to happen. How he managed that one is beyond me. What baffled me further, for this MIT professor, was the fact that lat/long never crossed his mind for the missing numbers. That was the first thing I thought of. There is one small problem. To get an accurate reading, you need to plot down to the “seconds.” The eight digit number divided in half, gives you only the degrees and minutes, which would not provide an accurate enough reading to put you on an exact street corner in lower Manhattan. Aside from that fact, North America uses negative numbers for longitude and there were no negative numbers. Okay, you can suggest that the negative numbers were implied…the accuracy would still be suspect.
Aside from the science fiction aspect of this film, there were some deep religious aspects that were worked into the film. For some, the biblical aspects might be interesting, while others might find them heretical. In the greater scheme of things, the movie would fail to be prophetic in the sense that Revelations provides specific events that must transpire. There were several religious corollaries that I found within this film. Before discussing them, I should probably give the expected spoiler warning. You are hereby warned. First and foremost is the fact that only God (for believers) knows our heart (or can speak to it). In this film, there are creatures that can be interpreted as aliens or angels, it really depends on your theology. These creatures are referred to as whisperers because they whisper thoughts directly into the minds of children. Science fiction buffs refer to it as telepathy. Believers refer to it as omnipotence. These creatures shed their human bodies near the end of the film (God was said to walk with Adam in the Garden of Eden…in human form). The creatures have an appearance similar to humans but with an energy quality. Aside from the ability to fly, these creatures trail energy in a manner that resembles wings. If you were to create the biblical interpretation of angels using a “life on other planets” translation, this is probably what you would come up with. Other biblical representations include the ark and collection of species as well as the introduction of a “Garden of Eden” at the end of the film. It seemed to me that this film may have been an intelligent attempt to reconcile biblical beliefs with a higher life form that is not God. In other words, our ancestors were visited and guided by these same aliens, and biblical stories now make more sense through the new interpretation. Although I could have easily found this film to be heretical, I did not sense it was intended that way. The biblical parallels were intended…the number and extent of comparisons made it visible that there was a concerted effort to reconcile some accounts from the Good Book. I took the comparisons more from a literary perspective than religious.
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