The Big Picture
- Knowing‘s unexpected ending leaves audiences guessing and allows them to choose between two distinct interpretations: aliens saving humanity or angels sent by God.
- The Whisper People, who communicate telepathically with Caleb and Abby, are either benevolent extraterrestrials or angels saving the pure of heart.
- In the sci-fi interpretation, Caleb and Abby are taken to a different planet to restart civilization, while the religious interpretation sees them as a new Adam and Eve in a new Eden, chosen by angels.
More than a decade after its original 2009 release, Knowing remains one of the rare movies no one can guess the ending. After letting Nicolas Cage look for the meaning of mysterious numbers that predict humanity’s biggest tragedies, Knowing ties everything together and gives an unexpected answer to all the questions it raises. Well, actually, the movie gives two very distinct answers, letting the audience choose what they want to believe. That explains why, after so many years, the unexpected ending of Knowing keeps eluding the audiences. That’s why we are here, to break down Knowing’s main events and explain what are the two ways to interpret the movie’s ending.
What Does the Code in ‘Knowing’ Mean?
The story of Knowing begins in 1959, when the young Lucinda (Lara Robinson) begins to hear mysterious voices in her head. One day, Lucinda’s teacher asks the whole class to draw what they think the future might look like, so that they can bury the children’s pictures in a time capsule and reopen it 50 years later. Instead of drawing, Lucinda starts to write numbers on a piece of paper, a coded message she hears in whispers. The teacher stops Lucinda before she can finish the message, so the girl hides in a closet later in the day, using her fingernails to scratch the final numbers in a wooden door.
When the elementary school’s time capsule is dug up five decades later, the young Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) grabs Lucinda’s coded message. Caleb is curious to learn the meaning of the message, so he steals the paper and takes it home. Caleb’s father, the astrophysicist John (Cage), identifies some of the numbers as the date and the exact number of victims of some of the biggest disasters in the previous 50 years, including the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, earthquakes, and train wrecks. John doesn’t know what some numbers mean, but he’s astonished that a young girl predicted dozens of terrible events. The mystery only gets thicker once John discerns three future events in Lucinda’s message.
John discovers the meaning of the remaining numbers once he witnesses a plane crash firsthand on the same day as one of Lucinda’s three remaining prophecies. Thanks to the GPS in his car, John learns that the numbers he couldn’t understand before mark the coordinates of each tragedy. With that information in hand, John tries to prevent another of Lucinda’s prophecies from happening. John fails, recognizing there’s no way to change the future. That tragic realization is followed by something even worse, as the number of victims of Lucinda’s final prediction, which John read as “33,” is actually “EE” written backward, which is short for “Everyone Else.” So, the last tragedy in Lucinda’s list is about to claim the lives of every human being on the planet.
Who Are the Whisper People Following Caleb and Abby?
As soon as Caleb receives Lucinda’s message, the boy starts to have terrible visions of the world on fire, sent to him by mysterious mute men that follow him everywhere he goes. These men, who Caleb calls “Whisper People,” communicate with the boy telepathically, sending him messages about the future. Caleb is not the only one to have been contacted by the weird visitors, as Lucinda’s granddaughter, Abby (Robinson), is also followed by the Whisper People.
At the end of Knowing, we learn that the Whisper People have been selecting a few members of the human race to save them from the upcoming apocalypse caused by massive solar flares coming to Earth. Only the chosen ones can hear their voices. Furthermore, the Whisper People were also behind Lucinda’s original message, warning the girl about all the tragedies to come and giving her the final location where she should be if she wanted to be saved.
Desperate to save his son, John tracks down the closet Lucinda scratched many years before, discovering the coordinates left behind by the Whisper People. However, at the meeting point, John learns he was not chosen to go with Caleb. John is then forced to say farewell to his son, who departs with Abby to a new world.
What makes Knowing’s ending more mysterious is that the Whisper People might have a different identity depending on whether we approach the story through the optics of science fiction or Christian tradition. That’s because the weird beings can be either aliens taking children to safety in their spaceships or angels sent by God to save the pure of heart.
Where Do Caleb and Abby Go in ‘Knowing’s Ending?
If we watch Knowing as a sci-fi movie, Caleb and Abby are taken to a different planet that can sustain life. However, they are not the only chosen ones, as John can see several spaceships leaving Earth’s atmosphere before solar flares burn the ozone layer and destroy all living things. The movie’s final scene shows Caleb and Abby running through an alien field of reeds while other spaceships can be seen on the horizon. So, one possible interpretation of Knowing’s ending is that a benevolent race of extraterrestrials has decided to save humanity from impending doom, choosing enough children to restart civilization on a new planet. The message they sent Lucinda served only as a warning so that people would be prepared for the upcoming end of the world.
Knowing also has enough religious elements for audiences to see the wacky ending as a version of the biblical apocalypse. When John meets one of the Whisper People for the first time, the strange man opens his mouth, blinding John with the light he carries inside him. In addition, once the Whisper People shed their human disguises and float with the children to their spaceship, we can see waves of blue energy that look just like wings. So, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think of the Whisper People as angels. This interpretation becomes more plausible when we remember prophecies are an intrinsic part of religion, and one of Christianity’s main prophets is John, the Revelator, who wrote the Book of Revelation.
Cage’s character is not the only person named after a biblical figure, as Caleb is also the name of one of the Israelites who survived the journey to the Promised Land, which resonates with Knowing’s final scene. The new land Abby and Caleb explore in the final scene also has a giant tree that could be the Tree of Knowledge planted in the Garden of Eden — and since Caleb and Abby are chosen to recreate humanity, they could be seen as a new version of Adam and Eve. Finally, the aliens/angels give rabbits to Caleb and Abby as a gift, a universal symbol of fecundity used in Christian tradition to represent resurrection. So, if we take all the religious symbols in Knowing as the key to understanding its ending, the Whisper People are angels who choose pure human beings — children — and take them to a new Eden, where the journey of humanity will start anew.
The religious interpretation of Knowing’s ending is on par with the movie’s drama. In the movie, John is a man of science who has cut ties with his father, a reverend (Alan Hopgood). It takes the end of the world for John to regain his faith and be convinced he’ll see his son and his dead wife again after his passing. So, just like John embraces faith after reason proves insufficient to explain the strange things happening around him, Knowing’s ending also leaves enough breadcrumbs behind for people who are unsatisfied with the alien explanation to see the movie as an analogy to Christian beliefs.
Knowing is currently available on Max.
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