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Knowing Movie: A Sci-Fi Thriller That Explores The Mystery Of Fate And Free Will


Have you ever wondered if everything in life is predetermined or if we have the power to change our destiny? If so, you might be interested in watching Knowing, a 2009 science fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas and starring Nicolas Cage. The film centers on the discovery of a strange paper filled with numbers and the possibility that they somehow predict the details of various disasters culminating in the apocalypse. The film was released on March 20, 2009, in the United States and grossed over $215 million worldwide. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised its visual style and atmosphere, but criticized its implausibilities and ending.

What is the movie about?

The movie begins in 1959, when a Lexington, Massachusetts elementary school celebrates its opening with a competition in which students draw what they believe will happen in the future. All the children create visual works except for Lucinda Embry, an odd child who hears voices. She fills her paper with a series of numbers that seem to have no meaning. The works are stored in a time capsule and opened fifty years later by the current class. Lucinda’s paper is given to Caleb Koestler, the nine-year-old son of widowed MIT astrophysics professor John Koestler. John discovers that Lucinda’s numbers are dates, death tolls, and geographical coordinates of major disasters over the past fifty years, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the September 11 attacks, and Hurricane Katrina. He also realizes that there are three events that have not yet happened, and that they are coming soon. He decides to investigate further and find out what they mean and how to prevent them.

Who are the main characters and actors?

The main characters of Knowing are:

  • John Koestler (Nicolas Cage): A professor of astrophysics at MIT who lost his wife in a hotel fire. He is skeptical of religion and believes in science and logic. He is also a loving father to his son Caleb, who he tries to protect from harm.
  • Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury): John’s son who receives Lucinda’s paper from the time capsule. He is curious and intelligent, but also troubled by his mother’s death and his father’s distance. He starts to hear whispering voices and sees visions of fire and destruction.
  • Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne): Lucinda’s daughter who was adopted after her mother died in a mental hospital. She is a single mother to her daughter Abby, who has inherited Lucinda’s ability to hear voices. She initially distrusts John, but later joins him in his quest to uncover the truth.
  • Abby Wayland (Lara Robinson): Diana’s daughter who is also Lucinda’s granddaughter. She shares Lucinda’s gift of hearing voices and seeing visions. She is close to her mother and forms a bond with Caleb.
  • The Strangers (D.G. Maloney): Mysterious men who wear black coats and hats and drive black cars. They appear to Caleb and Abby and show them visions of a burning world. They also communicate with them through whispers and stones with strange symbols.

What are the main themes and messages of the movie?

The movie explores several themes and messages, such as:

  • Fate vs free will: The movie raises the question of whether the events in the movie are predetermined by a higher power or if the characters have the ability to alter them. John represents the scientific and rational perspective, while Diana represents the religious and spiritual perspective. The movie does not provide a clear answer, but rather leaves it open to interpretation.
  • Knowledge vs ignorance: The movie also explores the consequences of knowing or not knowing the future. John believes that knowing the future can help him prevent the disasters and save lives, but he also faces the burden of responsibility and guilt. Diana prefers not to know the future, as she thinks it will only bring fear and despair. The movie suggests that knowledge can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how one uses it.
  • Hope vs despair: The movie depicts a bleak and dark vision of the world, where disasters and tragedies are inevitable and unstoppable. The characters struggle to find meaning and purpose in their lives, as they face the possibility of the end of the world. The movie also offers some glimpses of hope and optimism, such as the love between John and Caleb, the friendship between Caleb and Abby, and the message of renewal and rebirth at the end.

Plot Summary

The discovery of the numbers

The movie starts with a flashback to 1959, when Lucinda Embry writes down a series of numbers on a paper that is put into a time capsule at her school. The paper is retrieved by Caleb Koestler in 2009, who shows it to his father John. John notices that some of the numbers match with the dates and death tolls of major disasters that have occurred in the past 50 years. He also sees that there are three sets of numbers that have not yet happened, indicating that there will be three more disasters in the near future. He tries to warn the authorities, but they do not believe him.

The prediction of the disasters

John tracks down the locations of the predicted disasters using the coordinates on Lucinda’s paper. He arrives at each scene just before or after the disaster happens, witnessing a plane crash, a subway derailment, and a solar flare that causes widespread power outages and fires. He tries to save as many people as he can, but he is unable to prevent the catastrophes. He also realizes that Lucinda’s paper has a hidden message: “EE” which stands for “Everyone Else”. He deduces that this means that everyone else will die after the last disaster.

The revelation of the strangers

Meanwhile, Caleb and Abby are visited by mysterious men who wear black coats and hats and drive black cars. They call themselves “the strangers” and claim to be from another world. They communicate with Caleb and Abby through whispers and stones with strange symbols. They show them visions of a burning world and tell them that they have been chosen to be saved from the impending doom. They give them two small rabbits as gifts and instruct them to meet them at a certain location on the day of the final disaster.

The end of the world

John finds out that Lucinda had a daughter named Diana who was adopted after her mother died in a mental hospital. He contacts Diana and tells her about Lucinda’s paper and his discoveries. Diana initially thinks that John is crazy, but she later agrees to help him after she sees one of his predictions come true. She also reveals that she has a daughter named Abby who has inherited Lucinda’s ability to hear voices. John realizes that Abby is Caleb’s friend from school and that they have been contacted by the strangers.

John, Diana, Caleb, and Abby go to Lucinda’s old mobile home in the woods, where they find a door with symbols matching those on the stones given by the strangers. They open the door and find a hidden chamber with a map of the world and several coordinates marked on it. John recognizes one of the coordinates as the location where the strangers told Caleb and Abby to meet them. He decides to go there with his son, while Diana and Abby stay behind.

John and Caleb arrive at the location, which is a large field with a white rock formation. They see several black cars parked nearby and dozens of children playing with rabbits. They also see a large spaceship hovering above the ground. The strangers approach them and tell them that they are here to take them to a new world, where they will be safe from the solar flare that will soon destroy the Earth. They explain that they are not aliens, but rather beings from another dimension who have been observing and influencing human history for thousands of years. They say that they have chosen a select group of children who have special abilities to be the new Adam and Eve of their world. They ask John and Caleb to join them, but John refuses. He tells Caleb that he loves him and that he has to make his own choice. Caleb decides to go with the strangers, while John stays behind.

John drives back to Lucinda’s mobile home, where he finds Diana and Abby waiting for him. He hugs them and tells them that he is sorry for everything. He then drives them to his father’s house, where he reconciles with his estranged father, who is a Christian pastor. They watch the news on TV, which reports that the solar flare is about to hit the Earth and cause a global catastrophe. John tells his father that he was wrong about God and that he hopes that there is something after death. They pray together and embrace each other as the solar flare reaches the Earth and engulfs it in flames.

The movie ends with a scene of Caleb and Abby arriving at their new world, which is a lush and beautiful planet with two suns. They are greeted by other children who have also been taken by the strangers. They run towards a large tree that resembles the Tree of Life from the Book of Genesis. The camera zooms out to show that the tree is one of many that form a pattern on the surface of the planet.

Critical Reception

What did the critics say about the movie?

The movie received mixed reviews from critics, who gave it an average rating of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 197 reviews. The consensus reads: “Knowing has some interesting ideas and a couple good scenes, but it’s weighted down by its absurd plot and over-seriousness.” Some critics praised the movie’s visual effects, cinematography, score, and atmosphere, while others criticized its implausible plot, inconsistent tone, heavy-handed symbolism, and controversial ending.

What were the strengths and weaknesses of the movie?

The strengths of the movie were:

  • The visual effects: The movie featured impressive and realistic visual effects that created a sense of awe and terror. The scenes of the disasters were especially well-done, showing the destruction and chaos in vivid detail.
  • The cinematography: The movie had a dark and moody cinematography that enhanced the mood and tension of the story. The use of colors, lighting, shadows, and angles created a contrast between the normal and the supernatural elements.
  • The score: The movie had a haunting and powerful score composed by Marco Beltrami, who used orchestral and electronic sounds to create a sense of mystery and dread. The score also incorporated elements of religious music, such as choirs and organs, to reflect the themes of the movie.
  • The atmosphere: The movie had an effective atmosphere that built up suspense and anticipation throughout. The movie used various techniques to create a sense of unease and fear, such as whispers, noises, symbols, visions, and clues.

The weaknesses of the movie were:

  • The plot: The movie had an implausible and convoluted plot that relied on many coincidences, contrivances, and inconsistencies. The movie had many plot holes, logical flaws, and unanswered questions that made the story hard to follow and believe. The movie also had a controversial and divisive ending that left many viewers unsatisfied and confused.
  • The tone: The movie had an inconsistent tone that shifted from serious and dramatic to cheesy and campy. The movie tried to balance different genres, such as science fiction, action, thriller, horror, and drama, but failed to create a coherent and cohesive style. The movie also had some unintentionally funny moments that undermined the seriousness of the story.
  • The symbolism: The movie had a heavy-handed and obvious symbolism that tried to convey a deeper meaning and message. The movie used various symbols, such as numbers, letters, animals, trees, and religious references, to hint at the themes and ideas of the movie. However, the movie did not explain or explore these symbols in a meaningful or subtle way, but rather used them as cheap and clichéd devices.
  • The ending: The movie had a controversial and divisive ending that polarized the viewers. The movie ended with a twist that revealed that the strangers were actually angels who took the chosen children to a new world, while the Earth was destroyed by a massive solar flare. The ending was seen by some as a bold and original move that challenged the expectations and conventions of the genre, while others saw it as a cop-out and a betrayal of the premise and tone of the movie.

How did the movie perform at the box office?

The movie performed well at the box office, grossing over $215 million worldwide against a budget of $50 million. The movie was a commercial success, especially in international markets, where it earned over $152 million. The movie was also one of the highest-grossing movies of 2009 in several countries, such as Australia, Russia, Spain, and Taiwan. However, the movie did not receive any major awards or nominations for its achievements.


What is the main takeaway from the movie?

The main takeaway from the movie is that life is full of mysteries and uncertainties that we cannot fully understand or control. The movie shows that there are forces and events that are beyond our comprehension and influence, such as fate, destiny, prophecy, and divine intervention. The movie also shows that we have to make choices and face consequences based on our knowledge and beliefs. The movie challenges us to think about our own views on these topics and how they affect our lives.

How does the movie relate to our current situation?

The movie relates to our current situation in several ways. The movie depicts a world that is facing various disasters and crises that threaten its existence and stability. The movie also depicts a world that is divided by different perspectives and ideologies that clash with each other. The movie reflects some of the issues and challenges that we are facing today, such as climate change, terrorism, pandemics, wars, conflicts, and social unrest. The movie also reflects some of the questions and dilemmas that we are facing today, such as how to deal with uncertainty and fear, how to balance science and faith, how to find hope and meaning in a chaotic world.

Would you recommend the movie to others?

The answer to this question depends on your personal taste and preference. If you are looking for a sci-fi thriller that has some interesting ideas and some good scenes, you might enjoy Knowing. If you are looking for a realistic and coherent story that has a satisfying ending, you might be disappointed by Knowing. Knowing is not a perfect movie, but it is not a boring one either. It is a movie that will make you think and feel something, whether it is curiosity or confusion, admiration or frustration. It is a movie that will spark some discussion and debate among its viewers. It is a movie that is worth watching at least once, if only to form your own opinion about it.


Here are some frequently asked questions about Knowing:

  • Q: Is Knowing based on a true story or a book?
    A: No, Knowing is not based on a true story or a book. It is an original screenplay written by Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, and Stiles White.
  • Q: What is the meaning of the symbols on the stones and the door?
    A: The symbols on the stones and the door are part of an ancient alphabet called the Enochian alphabet, which was allegedly revealed to the 16th-century occultist John Dee by angels. The symbols are supposed to represent the names of the angels and their messages.
  • Q: What is the significance of the rabbits?
    A: The rabbits are symbolic of fertility and life. They are also a reference to the Chinese zodiac, which assigns an animal to each year. The movie takes place in 2009, which is the year of the rabbit. The rabbits also foreshadow the new world that Caleb and Abby go to, which has two suns. In Chinese mythology, there is a rabbit on the moon who makes elixirs of immortality.
  • Q: What is the new world that Caleb and Abby go to?
    A: The new world that Caleb and Abby go to is another planet in another dimension that is inhabited by the strangers. The planet is similar to Earth, but with some differences, such as having two suns and multiple moons. The planet also has many trees that resemble the Tree of Life from the Book of Genesis, which symbolize a new beginning and a new creation.
  • Q: What happens to John, Diana, and everyone else on Earth?
    A: John, Diana, and everyone else on Earth die when the solar flare hits the Earth and causes a global firestorm. The movie implies that there is no escape or survival from the disaster, as it affects the entire planet. The movie also implies that there is no afterlife or resurrection for them, as they are not chosen by the strangers.


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