Knowing
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Knowing

by Knowing Fan

Throughout human history, catastrophic events and social upheaval often cause people to question the future course of life on earth and to wonder what signs might point us toward the apocalypse. Nicolas Cage stars in the 2009 science fiction film KNOWING, which achieved box office success around the world for its artful depiction of the last moments of life on earth. Eschatology – the study of the end of the world – dates back centuries and informs so much religious and secular writing, it is easy to see why a cinematic depiction of earth’s last chapter would be fertile ground for our imagination.

Time Capsules
Formal discourse on the ultimate destiny of the world weaves its way into religious and philosophical writing and this fascination with man’s ultimate union with the Divine inspired novelist Ryne Douglas Pearson to pitch his movie idea to the producers of KNOWING at the start of 2001. The popular notion of time capsules is largely optimistic; a number of current objects are sealed inside a container that is buried in a marked location to be shared with future generations. Pearson wondered what might happen if a 1950s time capsule was found to contain a timeline of major disasters that ultimately led to the end of the world.

The End is Nigh
The cultural impact of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11 made many Americans feel that their way of life might never be the same. This uncertainty brought any number of “end of the world” scenarios back into popular discourse including the Christian notion of the Rapture (Thessalonians 4:17) as well as New Age interpretations of the Mayan Calendar which some believe posits the end of the world will take place in December 2012. Faced with such a specific expiration date, movies like KNOWING gain a foothold in popular consciousness because moviegoers like to see how Hollywood depicts our demise.

Last Man on Earth
Movies about the end of the world have long been box office gold including Vincent Price in Last Man on Earth and Charleton Heston in The Omega Man. But in order for these films to succeed, Hollywood sends along other survivors if only to give the last man something to do. In films like The Quiet Earth (1981) and The World, The Flesh and The Devil (1959), we’re returned to the story of Adam and Eve to give the audience a glimmer of hope for the future. KNOWING upturns this apocalyptic scenario by providing Nicolas Cage with a female partner but killing her off in the final reel to set us up for the apocalypse.

What Would You Do?
In February 2005, the original script for KNOWING was revised by Stiles White and Juliet Snowden to explore how Nicolas Cage – playing an MIT astrophysicist – might react if he was confronted by the documentation of the end of the world. Film audiences travel along with Cage as he examines a page of seemingly random numbers that were plucked from his son’s elementary school time capsule. Cage studies the numbers and soon deciphers that the particular sequences are dates of disasters around the globe followed by the exact number of people killed in each event. To give the film cultural resonance, Cage sees that the attacks of September 11 are included on the document and that the last few digits point to the final reckoning in the very near future.

As the film unfolds, we are treated to the plight of this man of reason confronting matters of faith and enlightenment. Cage must figure out not only what the numbers mean, but also how to warn his fellow scientists and his community about the impending Armageddon. He tracks down the family of the girl who wrote the time capsule document and discovers that her daughter (Rose Byrne) and granddaughter are also aware of the prophecy but reluctant to believe it is true. As time passes and the last of the numerological predictions come true, Cage realizes that he is powerless to stop the end of the world so he must sacrifice himself to save his only son.
 

   
Knowing Cast Info

 

Director: Alex Proyas

Producers: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch

Screenplay: Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White

Release date: March 20, 2009

Budget: $50 million

Box office: $187,858,642

 
Knowing Video Trailer