There are basically two ways to watch a movie … with your eyes (mind) open or with your eyes (mind) closed. Either of these ways will serve a purpose, but it can definitely make a difference what you take away from a film. The same ideal applies to reading a book … you can just read the words or you can read between the lines for deeper meaning. But if you are looking to critically analyze a movie or book, it is absolutely necessary to keep your eyes (and mind) wide open.
The 2009 film, “Knowing” stars Nicholas Cage, and the film did not received outstanding reviews by most media outlets (3.5 stars at the most). And I concur that the movie is not one of my favorites, but if one is on mission to analyze a film’s “worldview” and/or to see symbolism of God-messages, then “Knowing” is a good one to watch.
If you go see this film and are a professing Christian, I recommend you step back from what you think you know about “end times” … and let your imagination or perspective be free to “wander.” I’m not suggesting that this film in any way represents any biblical accounts, but in consideration of the fact that “Hollywood” probably doesn’t even realize, (without the more obvious reference to aliens) this film has closely represented what could be symbolized or interpreted as “the rapture.”
The plot is centered on Jon Koestler, an MIT scientist and professor, and his son, Caleb, who have recently lost their wife and mother to death in a fire. The film opens up with a brief conversation between the two, whilst star-gazing, about life on other planets or beyond earth. The father makes the statement, “No, it’s just the two of us!” Later, he realizes that perhaps his son was also asking the question because he was wondering about Heaven. He tells his son that he can believe in Heaven if he wants (needs) to, but as for him, he says, “there’s just no way of knowing.” Another early scene in the film depicts Jon teaching students at MIT about the different ideas of how the world was formed … pre-determined or by a random “bang.” He challenges his students to spout out bits of information that they “do” know, but gets distracted in his thoughts when it comes to deciding between “pre-determinism and random circumstance.” When asked by a student what he believes, he basically admits that it’s all just random.
Jon is struggling with grief, dealing with it by withdrawing from family and friends, drinking too much and there is an ever-present evidence of anger. As the story goes on, it is plain to see this anger leads to a rejection of religion and faith and acknowledgement of God. It is classic Darwinism or atheistic worldview. However, throughout the film there are continuous references and opportunities to reach out and embrace a Christian worldview. Ironically, Jon’s father is a pastor, but Jon has been estranged from him for a very long time. Jon’s sister, GRACE, comes by to check on him and offers to pray for him, to whom he responds, “Please don’t.”
The plot of the movie centers around a time capsule contribution that was made by a little girl named Lucinda, in 1959. The students were challenged to draw a picture of what the world would be like in fifty years, and those drawings would be placed in the time capsule to be opened by students of that era. Viewers recognize that Lucinda is “different” from the other children as she is obviously hearing voices which lead her to write a series of numbers on a piece of paper to be placed in the time capsule. Fifty years later, the capsule is opened and Caleb is given Lucinda’s letter. He thinks the numbers “mean” something, but at first, Jon dismisses it. Then, by “random circumstances” Jon’s attention is drawn to the letter with the numbers, and he starts recognizing patterns and sequences that correlate to world disasters since 1959.
As Jon continues to research and decipher the number sequences, his son is being visited by “life forms” who are obviously trying to communicate … but it is all in whispering. Jon begins to recognize that the number sequences are providing info (dates and GPS coordinates) of upcoming disasters which he tries to prevent to no avail. The final sequence on Lucinda’s letter indicates that on October 19, 2009, everyone on earth will die. Through a few other “subtle” biblical “Revelations,” he sees a “pre-determination” as to why he and Caleb have received this letter, based upon a previous discovery he made about “sun flares” that will end up burning up the Earth. He begins to see the “connection” of all these circumstances … and HE KNOWS.
There is no hope for survival on Earth. The movie offers a rather random and ambiguous realization by Jon that leads him to find the last GPS coordinates Lucinda (and his son) was given, and he proceeds to get to that location in hopes of surviving the “burning sun.” There he finds his son and Lucinda’s grand-daughter who have been kidnapped by those “life forms.” He starts to shoot the “being” but Caleb stops him and says, “Dad, its okay. They were protecting us, not trying to harm us.” These life-forms are offering them an escape from the “hell on earth” that is about to take place. A bright light … in Hollywood fashion an obvious ship from another universe or dimension … comes down to earth to these coordinates to provide this escape. Upon seeing the “ship” … ironically, Jon falls to his knees in awe.
They start to board the ship, but Caleb is told that his father cannot come. This is the tenderest moments in the film when it is explained that “only those who heard “the call” would be able to go.” Caleb is torn because he doesn’t want to leave his father behind. Jon is torn because he “knows” that his son must go in order to survive and live out his purpose. He assures his son that it’s okay … and that they will be together “forever,” — along with his mother.
Caleb goes with the “being” and boards the “ship.” Viewers who want to see, CAN SEE, the symbolism of “angels” rather than “aliens” in this scene. In fact, look closely for the “wings” and the “spiritual” realms indicated by the “escape.”
Jon watches his son ascend from the earth, as he falls to the ground in great mourning. The next morning he awakens and heads back to the city to find total chaos. People are looting and walking about in complete daze and confusion. Jon goes to the place where his father, mother and sister live. (which appears to be in a church or parsonage)
In a moment of repentance and reconciliation with his father, they all gather in front of the window, holding each other as the waves of fire overtake the whole earth and every living thing is annihilated. The movie ends with Caleb and Abby being placed in a beautiful wheat field, with beautiful mountains, streams, trees, blue skies and the perspective of peace and new beginnings.
I found it quite ironic that as I left the theater, mulling over the great symbolism I found in the film, I heard comments such as “How stupid!” “That was so retarded.” “I can’t believe we even watched that … how dumb.” And I thought … “Oh, you must have watched with your eyes closed.”
Simply, at face value, this was a Hollywood science-fiction film. Some will only see that it is portraying an atheistic world-view that says there is “no way of knowing what’s really out there.” But, I think it absolutely offers a “Christian worldview” that WE CAN KNOW. While Lucinda’s letter was left in the time capsule to let people KNOW what’s coming … we have the Bible and God’s Revelation to let us know about what is coming. Unfortunately for Jon, his “knowing,” came too late to experience the “rapture” with his son. But what he did truly know in his heart, came from the teachings of his father and the Bible, and led him to that place of reconciliation and the “knowing” of eternal life.
What I saw as “blatant” biblical and Christian worldview references may be only subtle to others. And I do find it sad that so many walked out of the theater seeing nothing but the “sci-fi.” Perhaps this review will enlighten others to watch films with “eyes wide open” and look for what you can learn and know, rather than simple face-value.