How can M. Night Shyamalan's film, Signs, be seen as a work focused on the theme of identity?

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I find that Shyamalan's film Signs has everything to do with identity.

In the first posting, I agree with...

...the film takes the supernatural and brings out a very human notion of identity...

I do not agree with the note from the second answer that compares The War of the...

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I find that Shyamalan's film Signs has everything to do with identity.

In the first posting, I agree with...

...the film takes the supernatural and brings out a very human notion of identity...

I do not agree with the note from the second answer that compares The War of the Worlds to Signs. The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells deals with the near-extinction of the entire human race. The only commonality I see with M. Night Shyamalan's Signs is that simple things destroy the aliens. For "War" it's the common cold. For Signs, it's water. However, where one theme of "War" is "man vs. machine," Signs is about searching for self and forgiveness and redemption.

The War of the Worlds is predominantly a science-fiction novel. Signs is a story of a man who is searching for a way to accept his wife's death. He has lost his faith in God, which is doubly traumatic for him for he is an Episcopal "priest."

"Supernatural" does not just refer to what we see as "science fiction." The true meaning of "supernatural" is anything that is above or beyond the natural world (trees, birds, etc.). The Romantic poets (such as Coleridge, who wrote the epic "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner") wrote about the supernatural—angels and spirits. Shakespeare saw the supernatural in witches, the Devil and fairies. These writers had no concept of human flight, let alone aliens from outer space. Also, in a religious sense, the supernatural is God.

Graham Hess is trying to find the peace he knew before his wife, Colleen, died. When Graham turns his back on his faith, one can assume that God (the supernatural) assists Graham in his search. First, without God, in his feelings of doubt, and "aloneness" in the universe, Graham has to take care of his children. He is a man of fear and uncertainty. Because he has lost his faith, he does not know who he is anymore. As noted, he believes now "We are all alone." He has to believe this. It might indicate his fear to believe because if he does believe in God, why did his wife die?

Shyamalan's films never leads you directly to the place he wants you (as the viewer) to end up. He takes the long way around, and you may not at first realize his genius—even with films that aren't big hits at the box office (e.g., Lady in the Water). It is only after watching several times that his messages are so much more obvious.

Graham has lost his faith. Because it is such a large part of his life, he has lost himself. He doesn't know how to comfort his children because he has no faith and has no confidence in understanding the world as he did when he was a man of God—things don't make sense now. His wife's dying message...

Tell Merrill—to swing away...

...is meaningless to him until he begins to believe that some supernatural force allowed Colleen to see something important just as she died. However, it is this message—which he had always thought was just the "firing of synapses" in her brain—which allows the family to fight the aliens. In essence, her death saves the family.

(Note—Merrill has also been searching for himself and his place: the incident with the bat allows him to recognize his worth as a man.)

Still, his faith is not complete until Graham is compelled to look to God to ask Him to save Morgan when he's been poisoned. The miracle of Morgan's survival allows Graham Hess to regain his faith, which is so much a part of his identity as a man—and a man of God.

This movie has a great deal to do with searching for identity.

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In many ways, I can see the theme of identity as being present in Shyamalan's film.  The central scene in which this is evident is the scene where Graham and Merrill are sitting in the living room, watching the television of the "14 lights."  While Merrill understands these "visitors" as reflective of hope and redemption, Graham takes the opposite view with his idea of "We are all alone."  In this, a central paradigm about identity is evident.  How human beings possess the belief of redemption and a sense of transcendence or a forlorn sense of being abandoned are critically important elements to how the characters view their own identity.  In this, the film takes the supernatural and brings out a very human notion of identity in terms of how individuals view themselves, one another, and the world in which they live.  To this end, the film becomes a study of this element of identity.  The manner in which human beings understand their own sense of self is an element of both their own identity and the identity of others, and this debate becomes of vital importance to the development of the plot of the film.

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