FCC 13: Christian Themes in “Signs”

On this episode of Finding Christ in Cinema, we roam the crop circles of rural Pennsylvania and look for Christian themes in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Is Reverend Graham Hess a dwelling place for demons? Will his hope ever replace his fear? All that and more in 3…2…1!

signs, tin, foil, hats, joaquin phoenix, rory culkin, abigail breslin, paranoid

Please try to contain your excitement…thank you.

Signs: Not the Average “Alien” Movie

Alien films get a bad rap nowadays. This is probably thanks to the whole slew of stereotypical, B-grade flicks that emerged from the mid-section of the 20th Century. Just to toss some of the titles:

  • It Came From Outer Space
  • The Thing From Another World
  • It! The Terror From Beyond Space

It all bleeds together, doesn’t it?

So what’s so special about “good” alien movies? What sets apart stories like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial from the rest of the fluff?

Such is the case for Signs. Although the aliens are a driving force in the plot, they aren’t the center of it. Instead, it’s a film about a man’s journey from doubt, fear, and hate to faith, hope, and love. He just needed the aliens to make him take that journey.

But let’s be honest: once we see the alien, we kinda quiver.

signs, alien, m night shyamalan

Is Rev. Graham Hess a Dwelling Place for Demons?

Mel Gibson’s character in Signs is thankfully dynamic. And I mean thankfully because if he didn’t change, then this film wouldn’t be anywhere near as stirring as it is.

He plays Rev. Graham Hess, an ex-minister who still struggles with the loss of his wife six months prior to the film’s opening. In fact, it was the losing of his wife that caused him to hang up his priestly collar and recede back to his isolated rural home.

Of course, it can be understood that once he became saved and pursued church leadership, any “demons” in him left. This reminds us of Jesus’ words in Matthew:

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

One could argue that, because of this, Hess never really had the faith he fronted. He was, in a sense, just going through the motions. Although, he did take it really far – being a reverend. And this proved to be enough to drive out any demons at first. But once he loses his “faith” the demons return (this time, in the form of hostile extraterrestrials) and want to do their thing.

Luckily, as the film suggests, “there are no coincidences,” and without spoiling anything, just be ready for everything to be tied up nicely and neatly.

Which is kinda how God essentially wants it to be for us:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Hopefully, we’ll all be able to see it.

signs, mel gibson, rory culkin, see, crops

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Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is a graduate student pursuing his Master in Theatre Arts degree with Regent University. He is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. You can find him live-tweeting his favorite movies on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever or posting poetry and unsolicited opinions at thebookofbrenden.com
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  • Philip Heard

    I love this film, it’s one of my favorites. It shows how God’s providence can be years in the making, with many things happening and coming together for perhaps just one particular moment in time. This reminds me of Mordecai’s words to Esther in the Old Testament when the Jews were under great threat and she was in a position to approach the king for relief, but at great personal risk.

    Esther 4:13-14(NKJV)- And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

    Also, this film illustrates the point made in Calvary- that for some people, their faith may just be a fear of death, and once that is gone, faith can be lost also. I think that’s a reason it’s so important for us to focus on relationship with God, loving, worshiping, and serving Him- rather than just as a ticket to eternal life.

    Y’all did a great job, especially with catching the parallel between Graham and his son and God and Graham.

    Thanks for the show! #muhweeladgimli

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