Shyamalan Tackles the Crop Circle Phenomenon in 'Signs':
By Lisa Tsering (indiawest.com)
SAN FRANCISCO - Crop circles - those mysterious geometrical shapes found carved into country landscapes - are getting the Hollywood treatment in M. Night Shyamalan's next film, Signs, due for release in summer 2002.
The film stars Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator) and Rory Culkin (brother of Macaulay), and is nearing the end of a nine-week shoot currently underway in Newtown, a small town in Bucks County, Penn. The story is being kept top-secret, but India-West has done a little sleuthing and has the latest on the project.
Sources close to the film say the story won't have a suprise ending as did The Sixth Sense and to some extent, Unbreakable, but the script has been described as "eerie" by those who have seen it.
Gibson plays Graham Hess, an Episcopalian priest who while driving on a country road, comes across the scene of a horrific traffic accident. When he gets out of the car to take a closer look, he realizes that the victim of the accident is his wife. Hess administers her last rites, there at the side of the road, and she dies. Hess then has a profound and mysterious experience that causes him to question his beliefs.
Overcome with grief, he decides to renounce the priesthood and take up farming. One day, a 500-foot crop circle appears on his land, and Hess becomes an instant celebrity against his wishes. He becomes fascinated by the circles, and is determined to learn who put them there and what they mean. His faith is put to the test as he deals with his sudden notoriety, the loss of his wife, and the truth behind the crop circle phenomenon.
India-West has learned that at least one scene will have an Indian angle: a Philadelphia casting agency put out a call for Indian actors in early August. "Indian men, all ages and types, are wanted for a scene in Signs," said a casting notice issued by Mike Lemon Casting. "The men must be able to believably portray farmers in India." Inquiries to the casting agency and to the film's publicist were not returned by press time.
Interestingly, Mel Gibson was not Shyamalan's first choice in the role of Graham Hess, according to an interview with the director posted to the sci-fi movie site www.darkhorizons.com. "He was looking at Paul Newman (who said he wasn't interested) or Clint Eastwood (who had scheduling conflicts)," reported the site.
One of the most comprehensive links to early information about the film can be found on an unofficial site out of Great Britain: www.signsmovie.co.uk. The site's founder, John Lundberg, also runs one of Britain's top-rated paranormal Web sites, www.circlemakers.org. Special effects wizards Industrial Light and Magic will create all the circles digitally, he said.
The locations of the film - on the main street of Newtown and in the fields of nearby Delaware Valley College - have been swarming with Gibson's female fans. One local prankster, a morning disk jockey for station Y100-FM who goes by the name CaseyBoy, even snuck onto the set with a clipboard in hand, pretending to be "Mojo" Shyamalan, M. Night's long-lost brother.
Crop circle formations have been well-documented in the United States, Britain, and Europe, but it's harder to track down reports in India. Colin Andrews, co-author of "Circular Evidence" and founder of Circles Phenomenon Research International, reported that a 1,500-foot circle appeared in the Indian landscape in 1987. According to Andrews, the six-pointed star within a triangle spotted in a wheat field in Punjab was one of a few formations reported in India to date.
As many as 80 percent of the crop circles reported in 1999 and 2000 are manmade, claims Andrews; but it's that 20 percent that interests us. Crop circles have appeared as far back as three hundred years ago in England, and today, are reported in countries around the world.
The majority of sighting reports come from Britain, but the U.S. has had its share of phenomena, including one with a definite Indian angle: On August 10, 1990, a detailed Sri Yantra mandala appeared in the sand of a dry lake bed in an isolated part of southeastern Oregon, under a well-patrolled Air National Guard training air corridor. UFO Magazine reported that Lieutenant Pilot Bill Miller, who first spotted the pattern, said that no pilots had reported a design-in-progress; the pattern had simply "appeared" one day, he said in news reports carried by the Associated Press and The Oregonian. Whether Shyamalan believes in the crop circle phenomenon himself is hard to tell, but if the success of his other films is any indication, you'll be reading much more about this "cerealogical" mystery in the months to come.
top | about site | about movie | news | further info | contact us | forum
© John Lundberg / SignsMovie.co.uk 2001