We’ve just got round to seeing Signs.
‘What? A crop circle site, and you haven’t see it already?’
We didn’t bother when it came out because we’d heard very poor reports, and aren’t the types to go and see a rubbish film just because it features crop circles. We’re not that sad. And now that we have seen it, on video (we’ve not got round to DVD yet, luddites that we are), we’re sorry to say that if anything it’s worse than we’d expected.
NOTE: If you’ve not seen the film yet, you might want to stop reading; we give away quite a bit.
It has to be said that this film is more about aliens and ye end of ye worlde than about crop circles; what circles-content there is tends to be confined to the first half of the film. In our view, the circles stuff is the best part of the film. Everything else has a ‘seen it all before, done better’ feel to it, whereas crop circles haven’t really been presented in this way in a mainstream film before.
The story begins with the appearance of a crop circle. The formation itself is (much like everything in this film that isn’t to do with crop circles) a hackneyed piece of crap that would have looked out of date ten years ago; several pathway-connected circles, one of which has a fork coming off it. It is in maize, though, which is nice, since maize formations are fairly rare. The farmer assumes it’s man-made (as farmers tend to do, some might say), though becomes curious when he can’t work out who did it or how, and when circles begin appearing in large numbers across the globe. At this point a quick history of crop circles is given, which doesn’t remotely tally with what we thought the history of crop circles was, though we don’t have the data to hand (on Signs, that is, not on the history of crop circles) to go into this aspect in detail, except to say that it’s completely wrong.
So where do the circles in this film come from? The aliens about to assail the planet made them as navigational aids. These aliens, apparently, are here to ‘harvest’ us. If they need to put markings in fields to find their way about the planet, when our world is already dotted with much larger objects that can act as navigational points (cities or roads, for example), how on earth did they manage to get all the way from their homeworld without getting lost? Oh, and these aliens are also spindly with pear-shaped heads (yawn) and (poke us if we nod off) almond eyes.
Despite the media perception – which this film unfortunately enhances – that some people believe crop circles are made by physical alien beings, we know few croppies who actually think this. And those who do tend to see the circles as a form of communication; the ‘landing traces’ / navigational aids angle was dismissed over twenty years ago. That a mainstream film goes down this tired route only adds to the ridicule-factor crop circles and croppies see plenty of already (we’d also add here that a lot of the backlash against the movie we’ve read in croppiedom seems to be centred around the fact that the circles are presented in a negative light, i.e. the nasty circlemaking aliens are on their way and that means crop circles are portents of evil, whereas for a lot of croppies the circles signify quite the opposite. For us this wasn’t a problem; we just thought it was a crap movie). There is an up-side, however, in that the degree of interest in crop circles this film has generated, and will continue to generate, is enormous, both with people wanting to learn about and see and experience the circles, and in people wanting to make them.
However, back in Signs world, we have more pressing concerns, such as how to deal with the impending alien invasion. Well for starters they’re only coming for a single night, so get through that and you’ll be okay. Hide. And if they find you, throw water at them; they don’t like it. It melts their skin. How comes they’ve not adapted to water? Does it never rain on the aliens’ planet?
Ultimately, this isn’t a film about aliens or crop circles. It’s about the loss of faith of the central character, a priest, following the death of his wife, and how his faith is regained through the unfolding of a sequence of supernatural events. Erm… hang on a minute, that was From Dusk Til Dawn. No, that was vampires, not crop circles and aliens. Never mind.
So, that was Signs. How on earth this piece of crap managed to slip through the talented Mr Shyamalan’s quality-meter mystifies us. Mind you, we also thought The Sixth Sense was a little over-rated.
Written Summer 2003.
Crabwood, Hampshire, August 2002. A rather controversial formation, some croppies maintaining that it was made as part of the publicity for Signs. Mind you, we’ve also heard it argued (by somebody in the Barge Inn who was very drunk, admittedly) that it was created by the ‘circlemaking forces’ as a counter to the negativity Signs would bring to the perception of crop circles, i.e. ‘Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts… We OPpose DECEPTION’ etc.. Was this formation made for Signs? We don’t think so, but a (pretty crudely rendered) version of the formation from the film poster did turn up in East Field in July 2002, featuring ‘Mickey Mouse’ ears on the main circle. Aerial photograph of the Crabwood formation courtesty of Peter Sorensen.