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Knowing - The Ex-Communicator

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April 14th, 2009

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11:27 pm - Knowing
I watched the film 'Knowing' which stars Nicholas Cage. I don't think I've ever said this before, and it surprises me to say it, but it's worth watching for the special effects. Saying no more than what is in the trailer: Nicholas Cage discovers an old piece of paper which predicts the time and place of a series of major disasters which have happened over the past 50 years, followed by one or two still to come. He therefore - and this is in the trailers - goes to check out the predicted disasters. These are rendered in a very realistic 'you were really there' way. Best disaster footage I think I've ever seen.

For the rest it is servicable, mediocre, competently but not inspiringly written and acted. The development outside of the rendition of disaster is like a thousand familiar Hollywood spooky/suspensful thrillers.

The script is very clever in one way - absolutely every line with any metaphysical content is written carefully so that it can be taken as either in line with mainstream Christianity or sceptical. It's as clever as advertising copy, in the way a clever person has worked to an obvious commercial imperative - offend neither the liberal nor the conservative camp.

At the end some benign aliens come and take away two children before the Earth is destroyed. I though this part was a little bit crap. Hogwash really. And like all the rest of the film it can be read in two ways.

In one reading the aliens are shown as being angels (at the very end they seem to have traditional angel wings, and there are references to Ezekiel). They take two white American protestant children, a boy and a girl, and put them into a garden with a big tree. This could be read as a very mainstream religious story.

On the other hand, we could take them as just aliens. We do see other alien ships leaving the dying Earth, and we could believe they were taking other children, of other races and ethnicities and religious backgrounds. Even non-Americans.

What sort of disgusts me is that the film never shows any black or brown kids being rescued by the aliens. We never see them in the new earth. Only the two white clean cut American kids. This just kind of makes me feel the film is covering its bases so as not to alienate the kind of audience who wouldn't like to see that. Am I being too sensitive? I don't know.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
I thought the ending was racist for what it's worth.

It's also depressingly meagre for a story about divine intervention. I love stories about divine intervention, but the God of this one seems incompetent at saving people; all that fuss and cryptic prophecy for the sake of fewer people and animals than survived the Flood.

The ending also makes nonsense of the film's central conceit, the numbers. Why would God (or aliens) communicate that way? It's not that He/She/They can only communicate in numbers as the common language of nature. The numbers are designed for humans to decipher. They're in human-invented and culturally specific patterns (US date format, Christian year numbering). So they're a deliberate puzzle. Which means that God/the aliens know enough about human conventions to communicate more directly if they choose, but instead they set a puzzle. Only there's no reward for solving the puzzle. The people who solve it aren't the ones who get saved. The angels/aliens simply round up the children and take them to the safe place indicated in the puzzle. The only purpose of the numbers, in fact, is to make the last days of a few people more stressful. What was the point?

[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
I've got no evidence and I've heard nothing, but it feels to me as if this film has been completely mucked about with in development, and that's why the plot doesn't make the slightest bit of sense.

I am wondering whether they had already committed to the development of the amazing 'disaster' footage, and then they had to massage the rest of the scenes to make it as commercially acceptable as possible (so they didn't lose money)

I would be interested to know whether they took a right wing religious story and softened it to make it more liberal (for instance adding the 'other space ships' in the background so liberals could imagine there were other children rescued) or whether they started with a non-religious premise/plot, and took away the non-white children, and added angel wings and so on, to make it more acceptable to a right wing audience.

Edited at 2009-04-15 01:39 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:April 16th, 2009 12:56 pm (UTC)
I agree that simply to allow the reading that other kids were rescued doesn't have much power when we don't actually see them.

The other ships are seen leaving the world where Caleb and Abby are set down, so if there are other children, they're presumably all left in the same place. We should have seen a bunch of children from all over Earth running up to the tree.

The film-makers got themselves in a bind, because showing other kids would dilute the Garden of Eden symbolism, even though it would be a much more optimistic note on which to end.

I think the ending we got is doubly depressing: not only do we see only two survivors, but the Eden-as-rescue suggests that God doesn't actually care about this world so long as He can start again on a non-fallen one. (Which isn't really a Christian viewpoint - more a Left Behind one...)
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. Saves me going to see it as the ending sounds like it would really bite my wire. :)
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Once you noticed the 'offend no bigots' theme it started to grate. Even if it was just my imagination.

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