Knowing (2009)


Knowing is a 2009 American science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas and starring Nicolas Cage. The project was originally attached to a number of directors under Columbia Pictures, but it was placed in turnaround and eventually picked up by Escape Artists. Production was financially backed by Summit Entertainment. Knowing was filmed in Melbourne, Australia, using various locations to represent the film's Boston-area setting. The film was released on March 20, 2009, in the United States. The DVD and Blu-ray media were released on July 7, 2009.


In 1959 at William Dawes Elementary School in Lexington, Massachusetts, a young girl stands in the play ground staring at the sun while many voices whisper. The teacher, Miss Taylor, calls the children in to class, but the girl, Lucinda Embry, does not respond. Back in class the teacher announces that the school has decided to use Lucinda's idea to make a time capsule containing students' drawings of their ideas of the future, to be opened 50 years later. Lucinda writes a page full of seemingly random numbers although her teacher takes it away before she completes the page. After the capsule burying ceremony, her teacher finds Lucinda in a school closet, her hands bloody from scratching the remaining numbers into the door with her fingers. We hear the voices whispering and Lucinda begs her teacher to make them stop. In 2009, John Koestler, a widower and professor of astrophysics at MIT discusses life on other planets with his son Caleb, this leads to a discussion of where the boy's dead mother is. They say goodnight by signing "You and me together forever". Caleb wears a hearing aid and knows sign language because he often hears confusing noises. John's wife died a year before, and three days before John's birthday. He still hasn't opened the birthday present she bought for him. The next day John instructs his students to write a paper on the subject of randomness versus determinism, does our existence have meaning and purpose or not. He believes it does not. His son Caleb attends William Dawes Elementary School and when the time capsule is opened Caleb receives Lucinda's envelope with the page of numbers. He sees a mysterious stranger wearing a trench coat in the nearby trees and hears voices whispering. At home John inadvertently begins to look over the series of numbers (due to accidentally creating a ring on the paper by setting his drink on it) and notices the sequence 911012996 amongst the numbers. He then looks up the September 11, 2001 attacks and quickly realizes that the numbers are the date, year, and number of deaths in the event (9/11/01/2996) and takes an interest in the numbers. He soon realizes and spends hours on the internet confirming that the numbers on the paper represent the dates and death tolls of major disasters over the past fifty years including the fire that killed his wife. However, the last three dates on the page have yet to happen, and are in the immediate future. Despite his realizations, there are several numbers between each of the dates and death toles that he cannot figure out. John goes to visit Lucinda's teacher and learns about Lucinda scratching at the door of the school closet. He also learns that Lucinda is dead. John's sister Grace visits and tries to get him to reconcile with their pastor father. Meanwhile Caleb receives more visits from mysterious strangers who give him a small smooth stone and visions of destruction. On his way to pick up Caleb at school John witnesses a plane crash. It is the date that the numbers had predicted for the next disaster, and John realizes that the unexplained numbers on the paper are the geographic coordinates of the events. He finds Lucinda's daughter Diana Wayland, and granddaughter Abby. Caleb and Abby get along, but Diana refuses to talk to John after he asks about her mother predicting the future. John thinks the next disaster will be a terrorist attack and tries to prevent it, but it is actually a Manhattan subway train derailment which he fails to prevent. Diana seeks out John and tells him that the next date is the day her mother told her she would die. They go to Lucinda's old remote mobile home to look for more information. On the way there John tells Diana that when his wife died he stopped believing that it was possible for anyone to know the future and "life is just a string of random accidents and mistakes", but if he had had the list he might have been able to save his wife. Diana thinks that the last number on the page, the death toll for the final disaster, is not "33" but "EE" written backwards. She tells John that her mother heard voices whispering horrible things and she moved out to the woods to "get ready". They find pictures of all the disasters she predicted and copy of Matthäus Merian's engraving of Ezekiel's "chariot vision". John finds a pile of small smooth stones in the house that lead him to flip over the bed and find the words "Everyone Else" carved repeatedly into the underside. While John and Diana are in the home the Strangers try to take the children. Abby says the "whisper people" said that she and Caleb could go with them. John confronts one of the strangers who opens his mouth in a terrible roar and disappears in a flash of light. The next morning John finds that Abby has colored in the picture of the "Likeness of a Man" in the engraving and says it is the sun. John has a sudden revelation and rushes them to the MIT observatory where he discovers that a massive solar flare will soon reach Earth. It is the final disaster on Lucinda's paper that will kill everyone. Diana wants them to take the children and hide in some caves she knows of. John agrees even though he knows that won't save them. John opens the last birthday gift from his wife and finds that it is a locket inscribed "Together Forever" with a picture of their family. John calls his father and tells him to seek shelter. His father thanks him but refuses. John is reminded of Lucinda scratching on the closet door and tries to uncover what numbers she scratched believing that they are the coordinates of a safe place. Diana insists the caves are the only safe option and takes both of the children. John discovers that Lucinda's last coordinates are the location of her old mobile home. When Diana stops for gas Caleb calls his father from a payphone. The solar flare is announced on the news and panic erupts. While Diana is arguing with John on the payphone the Strangers drive off in Diana's car with Caleb and Abby. Diana finds a small smooth stone on top of the payphone and realizes that the children are gone. She steals an SUV and gives chase but is broadsided by a truck at an intersection. John arrives at the scene of the accident just as Diana dies and finds the small smooth stone in Diana's hand. He continues to Lucinda's mobile home, where he finds the children and the Strangers in a dry river bed covered with small smooth stones. Abby says the "whisper people" told her her mother was safe now. Caleb says "they have been protecting us all along" and "they sent a message ahead to prepare the way". A glowing vessel, similar to the wheels in the engraving, descends from the sky. The Strangers won't let John into the vessel because he can't hear them, he wasn't "chosen". John convinces Caleb to go without him by promising that the whole family will be together again some day. The Strangers dissolve into glowing, translucent figures surrounded by wing-like wisps of light. Caleb says to his father, in sign language, "You and me together forever". The vessel folds up into a shape similar to a comet and departs with the two children. From the vantage point of space, similar vessels are seen flying away from Earth. John travels to Boston through scenes of riot and chaos to be with his sister and parents. He embraces his estranged father, a Christian minister. His father says "This isn't the end, son", John replies "I know". The whole family embraces as the solar flare strikes Earth, vaporizing the ozone layer and incinerating all life on the planet. Elsewhere, Caleb and Abby wearing white linen clothing stand in an otherworldly field as vessels take off in the distance. The film ends as the two make their way towards a large, white, solitary tree in the distance.