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Mel Gibson • Joaquin Phoenix
DIRECTOR: M Night Shyamalan

Something in the dark THE CONCEPT:
Writer/director, M Night Shyamalan, who was nominated for an Oscar for his movie The Sixth Sense, returns with a tale in Signs, a story that explores the mysterious real-life phenomenon of crop circles and the effects they have on a farmer, Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) and his family.

U.S. RELEASE: August 2 2002 • Rated: PG-13


“The title definitely has two meanings. One is the crop signs that they find in their yard, and the signs that are happening around the world. But it is also about faith and the existence of signs from above.”

MEL GIBSON on whether he believes in paranormal activity:
“I don’t believe in little green men coming out of the woodwork to eat you or to befriend you, or to make the universe a better place. I do believe in a realm outside our own that’s pretty difficult to explain, and I think everybody has had more than one experience that is otherworldly.”

JOAQUIN PHOENIX on his first meeting with Shyamalan about portraying Mel Gibson’s brother, Merrill, in the movie:
“I asked him what the film was called, and he said, ‘Signs.’ And he described it at first how it is the appearance of crop circles on the family farm. And then as I read the script, the metaphor became clear to me. That’s kind of Night’s expertise in a way … he brings you these authentic characters and yet they have these amazing epiphanies about themselves and the world but it’s something with which everyone can identify.”

“For me, supernatural things are all metaphors for the Human story. [They serve as devices for] testing people and finding out what people are made of, and getting people to say what they need to say to their loved ones. It’s a kind of costume to reveal what’s true about the movie.”

“There’s a scene in the movie where I’m watching a video in Brazil, and the creature walks across the frame, and I jump up and back up. It’s such a little moment, but I think it says a lot about my character and what he’s experiencing.”

“I was so impressed by Night’s brilliance; he cooked up the idea of this film, then wrote it so eloquently, and then executed it with absolute certainty and precision. I was amazed by what he was doing. He has a very clear and strong vision and has a way of communicating it to you. He’s like the truth police, and from an actor’s point of view that’s great because he’ll bust you if he’s not getting something truthful. There’s an aspect to him that’s almost indefinable. There’s a kind of otherworldliness to (him) that’s oddly spiritual.”

“Supernatural movies kind of have a disclaimer in the beginning to say none of this is real, wink, wink. But I try not to do the wink, wink. What if this really happened? What would you feel?”

“I saw the movie a few months ago, and I think it was pretty close to the final version. It was one of the few times that I was swept away by the collective energy in the theatre, and the fact that people were responding so well to the film. And I stopped obsessing about myself! It’s embarrassing, but I jumped [out of my seat] a few times, I was really scared!”

“Films do three things if they are really great – they entertain, they educate and they take you to a higher plane of existence, a kind of spirituality, reaching outside of your own realm, and I believe that Night has done that with this film.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Touchstone Pictures
Feature © 2002 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Xposé, August 2002 cover

Read Xposé for coverage of fantastic films, plus. . .
more from Signs coming up in
Film Review!

Film Review, #621, August (MIB) 2002 cover

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