Signs (movie)

Signs ( Signs ) is an American film of science fiction directed by M. Night Shyamalan , released in 2002 .


The Hess family, based in Doylestown , Bucks County , Pennsylvania , is going through a dark period. After the death of his wife in a car accident, the father, Graham Hess, lost his faith and made his pastoral office. While taking care of his farm, he tries to raise his best two children, Morgan and Bo, with his younger brother Merrill, a former glory of baseball .

One morning, the little family discovers gigantic crop circles in its fields . First convinced of a hoax, Graham and Merrill realize that something is watching and prowling in their fields at night. Soon, the Hess must face the facts: these mysterious crop circles are not the result of any accident, but the signs of an imminent extraterrestrial invasion.

Technical sheet

  • French title: Signes
  • Original title: Signs
  • Director and screenplay: Mr. Night Shyamalan
  • Artistic direction: Keith P. Cunningham
  • Sets: Larry Fulton
  • Costumes: Ann Roth
  • Photography: Tak Fujimoto
  • Editing: Barbara Tulliver
  • Music: James Newton Howard
  • Production: Frank Marshall , Sam Mercer and Mr. Night Shyamalan
Delegate Producers: Kathleen Kennedy
  • Production Companies: Touchstone Pictures , Blinding Edge Pictures and The Kennedy / Marshall Company
  • Distribution: ,
  • Budget: 72 million 1
  • Format: Color ( DuArt ) – 1.85: 1 – Sound: Dolby Digital EX , Sony Dynamic Digital Sound , DTS
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Language: English
  • Genre: science fiction , fantasy , thriller
  • Duration: 106 minutes
  • Release dates 2 :
    •  United States and Canada : 
    •  French-speaking Switzerland :
    •  France and Belgium : 


  • Mel Gibson (VF: Jacques Frantz – VQ: Hubert Gagnon ) : Graham Hess
  • Joaquin Phoenix (VF: Bruno Choel – VQ: Antoine Durand ) : Merrill Hess
  • Rory Culkin (VF: Julius Sitruk – VQ: Xavier Dolan ) : Morgan Hess
  • Abigail Breslin (VF: Claire Bouanich – VQ: Charlotte Mondoux-Fournier ) : Bo Hess
  • Cherry Jones (VF: Anne Jolivet – VQ: Marie-Andree Corneille ) : Caroline Paski
  • Patricia Kalember : Colleen Hess
  • Merritt Wever : Tracey Abernathy
  • Lanny Flaherty (VQ: Vincent Davy ) : Mr. Nathan
  • Marion McCorry : me Nathan
  • Michael Showalter (VF: Bernard Métraux – VQ: Pierre Auger ) : Lionel Prichard
  • Rhonda Overby YF Yumi Fujimori ) : Sarah Hughes
  • Angela Eckert : the saleswoman
  • Mr. Night Shyamalan (VF: Bernard Gabay – VQ: Gilbert Lachance ) : Ray Reddy


Genesis and development

Example of a circle of culture in Switzerland
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The script revolves around crop circles or crop circles (in English crop circles ). Director and screenwriter Mr. Night Shyamalan says, “I have a real fascination with this subject. He’s calling me. But in this film, these phenomena are only the beginning, the first sign. It is from their appearance that the story really begins. Many things have been said about crop circles . It has been claimed that it was a global joke or geographical landmarks for extraterrestrials. Nobody has the answer for the moment and the mystery is there. The idea was to confront these phenomena to a man who confronts his own demons 3 ” .


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Mark Ruffalo was originally meant to be Merrill Hess. But because of a surgical operation, he had to be replaced shortly before the start of the shooting by Joaquin Phoenix 3 .


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The shooting took place mainly in Pennsylvania , especially in Bucks County . The farm was built at Delaware Valley College .

For cultivation circles , Mr. Night Shyamalan insisted on using no special digital effects . One of the team members, James Breen, explains: “We had seen in reports that the hoaxers used ropes, ladders and boards. We did exactly the same thing. In the center of the area, the ladder is drawn up; from its top, the rope is stretched to the desired radius to define the perimeter, then with planks, the corn is layered as it moves forward like the second hand of a watch. Our crop circle was about seventy meters in diameter. We suffered physically because it takes a lot of strength to bend a foot corn, and we folded in thousands 3 ” .

As in some of his previous films, the director Mr. Night Shyamalan also appears in Signs . He plays Ray Reddy here. He explains, “It’s not a very long role in the picture, but it’s important. I was scared, but every time something scares me, I want to do it. Playing opposite Mel Gibson is intimidating, but it was generous and safe ” 3 . Mel Gibson says, “The experience was amazing. As a director, Night always knows what he wants, he listens, encourages, motivates with a lot of humanity. Finding him suddenly actor, more vulnerable, really wanted to support him. He was surprising. We worked a few shots,3 “.


Original score
Soundtrack of James Newton Howard
Exit 4
Checked in Todd Scoring Internship ( Studio City )
JHN Studios ( Santa Monica )
duration 45:34
Kind movie soundtrack
Producer James Newton Howard, Thomas Drescher, Tom Drescher
Label Hollywood

AllMusic 4

James Newton Howard’s Albums

Suspicious Loves
(2002)Big Trouble


The music of the film is composed by James Newton Howard , who had already collaborated with the director for Sixième Sens (1999) and Incassable (2000).

List of titles
o title duration
1. Main Titles 1:45
2. First Crop Circles 3:15
3. Roof Intruder 2:20
4. Brazilian Video 1:56
5. In the Cornfield 5:40
6. Baby Monitor 1:07
7. Recruiting Office 2:07
8. Throwing a Stone 5:47
9. Boarding Up the House 3:00
10. Into the Basement 5:23
11. Asthma Attack 3:42
12. The Hand of Fate – Part 1 5:32
13. The Hand of Fate – Part 2 3:47

Major Distinctions

Source: Internet Movie Database 5


  • ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards 2003: Top Box Office Movies for James Newton Howard
  • Bogey Awards 2002:


  • Saturn Awards 2003 : best sci-fi movie
  • Bram Stoker Award 2003: Best Screenplay for Mr. Night Shyamalan
  • Empire Awards 2003 : Best Director for Mr. Night Shyamalan
  • Satellite Awards 2003 : best sound
  • Teen Choice Awards 2003: Best horror movie or thriller
  • Young Artist Awards 2003: best young lead actor in a movie for Rory Culkin , best young actress 10 years old or younger in a movie for Abigail Breslin



To preserve the suspense of the film, Mr. Night Shyamalan asked the journalists not to reveal too much the plot. Thus, we can read in the press kit:

“We all created this film with the idea of surprising, distracting and moving. Signs is a journey that relies heavily on surprise. The actors, the technicians, all those who have invested in this film as well as myself would be infinitely grateful to you for not revealing the elements other than those contained in this press kit. For the pleasure of those who discover Signes, I thank you sincerely 3 . “

– Mr. Night Shyamalan


The film receives overall good reviews. On the aggregator Rotten Tomatoes , he gets 74% of favorable opinions, for 226 critics identified 6 . On Metacritic , the film harvests a slightly lower average of 59/100, for 36 critics 7 .

On the French site AlloCiné , Signes has an average of 3.3 / 5 for 23 titles of press 8 . On the side of the positive reviews, Vincent Malausa site Chronic’art (which gives the score of 5/5) writes that the director “is also an author whose obsessions have surely finished haunting us” 8 . In Les Inrockuptibles , Frédéric Bonnaud thinks that Shyamalan “is the last American filmmaker to work in the most important show while remaining an enchanting master” 8 . For Stéphane Moïssakis of Mad Movies , it’s “rare and precious cinema”8 . In the magazine Première , Gérard Delorme writes “We do not have to believe in God, but we must be blind or in bad faith not to see the extraordinary ability of Shyamalan to organize images that make us believe in the world. incredible ” 8 . Charles Tesson of the Cahiers du cinéma thinks that “This timely alliance between a real talent for staging and theoretical knowledge of the functional capital of American cinema contributes to the overall quality of Shyamalan’s cinema” 8 .

Some critics are more divided, like that of François Forestier in Le Nouvel Observateur : “Mr. Night Shyamalan establishes a heavy atmosphere with virtuosity. And waste everything: the story was written with lead soles ” 8 . Pierre Vavasseur of the Parisian regrets that “the scenario skids towards mysticism, to the limit of the ridiculous” and thinks that “the director should change recipes” 8 .

Box office

With a budget of 72 million $ , Signs won no less than 227 million $ in the United States , and 408 million $ globally 1 .

Country or region Box Office Box office shutdown date Number of weeks
 United States Canada $ 227,966,634 1 9 27 9
 la France 2,059,812 entries 10 11 11
 World 408 $ 247,917 1



“The meaning of the title is twofold. Of course, it refers to crop circles , but it also concerns all the elements of everyday life that challenge the faith. The film also talks about how to deal with hazards and all things that happen. Graham (Mel Gibson) had faith, he lost it. He changed sides. Watching him evolve, listening to him talk with Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), everyone will also ask which side he belongs to. This is a concept that goes far beyond the show. This is a real question that is intimate. It defines our approach to the world 3 . ”

Mr. Night Shyamalan

The title of the film is double-reading: the signs in question are both the signs drawn in the fields by the extraterrestrials, and the informal signs that nourish the faith of the protagonists and guide them in their actions. The “signs” punctuate the entire film, whose keys and explanations are almost all revealed at the end of the film. Among the “signs”, we can note:

  • Bo, the little girl in the family, leaves half-filled glasses of water around the house on the pretext that she is “contaminated”. When Graham and Merrill fight an alien and accidentally spill a glass of water, they discover that the water is burning deeply.
  • When they look at the extraterrestrial book, Graham’s children notice that their house is strangely similar to the one shown on a picture of a house on fire, attacked by an alien ship. A correlation accentuated by the presence of three corpses at the foot of the house (an adult and two children).
  • Merrill is reputed to be a baseball player who could have made a career with the pros if he did not just “swing” the bat (hit hard, no matter the ball). A quality whose “only” utility will be to allow Merrill to fight the extraterrestrial having entered their home, in the end.

We can also interpret the film in quite another way, indeed, the film does not show us explicitly that the extraterrestrials are enemies 12. Spectators therefore follow the reasoning of the heroes of the film without questioning the reason for the presence of extraterrestrials. In this case, it may be Shyamalan’s willingness to show the credulity of an average family in the United States who lives far from the city and whose only means of communication is radio. In addition, when Morgan wakes up from his asthma attack, he asks if anyone has saved him, Graham thinks it’s God but it can be the alien who sprayed a product on the child. This interpretation gives a certain depth to the film and allows criticizing the average American family and its relationship to the media but also the credulity of viewers who do not question the vision of the characters.


Faith (not belief) can be a key to reading the movie (and several other films of Mr. Night Shyamalan): Graham Hess lost faith in the car accident of his wife who left life, then find it at the end (which is revealed in all subtlety, without dialogue, on the last image of the film where we see Graham Hess in pastor dress).

In this sense, the extraterrestrials are a backdrop, a theme of the background, the presence of which serves to put the faith to the test of fear.

See also

On other Wikimedia projects:

  • Signs (film) , on Wikiquote

Related Articles

  • Circle of culture
  • ufology

External links

  • Signed )  [ archive ] on the Internet Movie Database
  • Signs [ archive ] on Allociné

Notes and references

  • (in) / (In) This article is partially or entirely from articles entitled in English ‘ Signs (film) ” ( see the list of authors ) and in English ‘ Signs (soundtrack) ” ( see the list of authors ) .
  1. ↑ a , b , c and d (en) Signs ”  [ archive ] , Box Office Mojo .com (accessed January 26, 2015 )
  2. ↑ (en) Release dates [ archive ] on the Internet Movie Database
  3. ↑ a , b , c , d , e , f and g Secrets of filming  [ archive ] – Allociné
  4. ↑ a and b (in) James Newton Howard – Signs (Original Motion Picture Score) ”  [ archive ] , on AllMusic .com (accessedJanuary 26, 2015 ) .
  5. ↑ (in) Distinctions [ archive ] on the Internet Movie Database
  6. ↑ (in) Signs ”  [ archive ] , on Rotten Tomatoes (accessed January 26, 2015 )
  7. ↑ (in) Signs ”  [ archive ] , on Metacritic (accessed January 26, 2015 )
  8. ↑ a , b , c , d , e , f , g and h Press Reviews Signs ”  [ archive ] , on AlloCiné (accessed January 26, 2015 )
  9. ↑ a and b (in) Signs – weekly ”  [ archive ] , Box Office Mojo .com (accessed January 26, 2015 )
  10. ↑ ” Signs (2002) ”  [ archive ] , on JP (accessed November 12, 2014 )
  11. ↑ a and b Signs (2002) – box office France ”  [ archive ] , on JP (accessed November 12, 2014 )
  12. ↑ ” CHROMA S01.04. SIGNS – Dailymotion video »  [ archive ] , on Dailymotion (accessed on April 25, 2016)

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