Viewers wanting to see "Knowing" staring Nicholas Cage might expect a film not all that different from his "National Treasure" series or even perhaps "The Da Vinci Code" as from advertisements the story appears to center around an aged parchment with a series of numbers scribbled across it that seemingly predicts a series of disasters. However, by the film's conclusion, the apocalyptic symbolism alluded to is much more complex and potentially confusing than one might initially suspect.
After a series of catastrophes Cage’s astrophysicist character witnesses as a result of deciphering the cryptic document, one begins to get the impression that the transcendent presence guiding events is more of a tangible one rather than a force in the background. Hints of this are introduced when mysterious figures reminiscent of less than normal looking versions of Men In Black begin to stalk Cage’s son as well as the granddaughter of the character who wrote down the prophetic string of numbers in a flashback set fifty years in the past.
In most films one usually gets a distinct impression as to the forces overseeing mankind’s eschatological destiny. Usually they are traditionally supernatural or more in the vein of what moviegoers would consider extraterrestrial or interplanetary. Seldom do I remember a film where the distinctions were blurred or melded to such a degree as in "Knowing".
For example, viewers were first given a hint of this as Cage and one of the adolescent come across an illustration depicting Ezekiel's wheel within a wheel. The overt supernatural overtones continued to increase with interactions with the Men In Black, especially when a blinding lights emanates from one of their mouths when confronted by Cage and as Cage's partially deaf son picks up a message over his hearing aide from the "whispering people".
By the time of the movie's climactic act, Ezekiel's wheel within a wheel has descended to the rendezvous point where it has arrived to whisk the children under Cage’s care to safety away from the earth endangered by a gigantic solar flare. Not even at this point did screenwriters clarify where they came down theologically. For example, as Cage proceeded to board the craft, he was informed that only the chosen could enter.
Did this mean only those professing belief in God (about the best you can hope for from Hollywood as a positive ascent to the need for a relationship with Christ would be out of the question) since earlier in the film Cage's character hinted at lacking faith in a conscious divine power. Or more likely, were these tots suppose to be Indigo Children, a new classification of adolescent hypothesized to be the next step in human evolution as a way to explain a myriad of phenomena from such as why these children have IQ's higher than their parents to bratty teen behavior.
The distinction between garden variety extraterrestrial and angel is further blurred when these entities drop their humanoid facades to reveal themselves to be energy beings reminiscent of the Taelons from the early seasons of “Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict”. The obfuscation continues until the end of the film.
As the craft carrying the two children away from the earth lifts into space, the viewer realizes that these two youngsters were not the only two saved as they join a convoy of similar vehicles. Once more, while the average viewer might be sitting their dumbfounded as to what is being depicted, the viewer peripherally in the know will wonder if they have just seen a space age interpretation of the Rapture where it is believed that the saved will be whisked away by God to safety before destruction comes upon the world or rather, as non-dispensationalists have hypothesized, or how the masses will be duped into a pseudo-rapture orchestrated by so-called “flying saucers”.
Even after all of this, "Knowing" at its end dumps even deeper metaphysical symbolism upon the viewer to wade through. For after the earth is destroyed with the elements burning up with a fervent heat as foretold in I Peter 3:12, we see the children running through a field towards a very distinct looking tree that could very well be the Tree of Life. But as with other moments in this film, we are not given any definitive answer as to whether the children are in Heaven or merely on another planet.
Those that go into “Knowing” expecting a supernatural thriller will not be disappointed. However, what they may not know about is the symbolic dialogue regarding some of the most profound spiritual issues facing the world today.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.