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Analysis of the True Meaning of Magnolia
Warning: This article is an analysis of the movie Magnolia and contains many spoilers.
Anyone who saw the critically acclaimed film “Magnolia” undoubtedly left the theater perhaps feeling awe, but most likely very confused about its ending, especially the frog splash scene.
A key aspect to interpreting the true meaning of this film lies in the many references to Exodus 8:2 in the Bible. The most obvious reference was in the scene right before the start of the quiz show. The woman can be seen holding a sign with the words “Exodus 8:2” clearly written on it, but she is immediately escorted out of the audience by security.
Below are other examples of references to the numbers 8 and 2 in the film, as listed in the trivia section of imdb.com
o weather forecast: 82% chance of rain
o gambler needs 2 in blackjack but gets 8
about the winding of the rope when the boy commits suicide
o first temperature reading
o movie poster at the bus stop on Magnolia Boulevard
o poster of hanged convicts
o Jim Kurring’s box number on the date line
o Sydney Barringer’s mother and father’s apartment number is 682
o Forensic Science Convention starts at 8:20
o Delmer Darion turns over a deck of cards to reveal the 8 to 2 of diamonds
o right after Jim Kurring sees Donnie Smith climbing up the building, you can see a flash of a sign on the side of the road that says “Exit 8:2” (visible again when the frogs fall and hit Kurring’s car)
o number on the firefighting plane.
o in marcy’s pictures, her criminal record is 82082082082
In the bar scene there is a board with two teams, the frog and the clouds, the score is 8 to 2
about spray painted on cement like graffiti next to the boy.
o an audience member in the game holds a placard with Exodus 8:2 written on it
o kids were two days away from entering their eighth week as champions.
o Quiz Kid Donnie Smith won his $100,000 on April 28, 1968.
o The first two numbers of the Seduction and Destruction Hotline (1-877-TAME-HER) are 82.
o one of the hanged has 82 on his clothes
o Jim says he gets off work at 8:00 and Claudia suggests they meet 2 hours later for a date
And here is Exodus 8:2 –
And the Lord said to Moses: “Go to Pharaoh and tell him: Thus says the Lord: Let my people serve me.”
And if you refuse to let them go, here, I will break all your borders with frogs.
Another important piece of the puzzle comes from Dixon, the young man who raps Jim after discovering the murders. The following is an excerpt from Dixon’s rap:
Check that ego, take it off, I’m the Prophet,
You live to grow old with a chip on your shoulder.
He runs from the devil, but always gets the debt,
When the sun doesn’t work, the good Lord brings rain.
Dixon calls himself a “prophet” but could be interpreted as an extension of god. He retrieves Jim’s gun after losing it, but during a frog shower, the gun falls from the sky along with the frogs – a sign that the boy had some control over events.
The second and third lines of the tail warn Jim that he lives to move higher (“to grow older”), but something is weighing him down. Dixon tells Jim that what he’s doing is wrong and warns him to stop. However, Jim doesn’t listen to the rapper any more than the Egyptian Pharaoh didn’t listen to Moses. This message is not only intended for Jim, but also symbolizes the wrongness in the lives of all the other characters. The last line warns that if God is neglected, he will bring rain.
An important key note is that all the characters admit their mistakes but can’t seem to get past them. Claudia, for example, is addicted to cocaine but can’t do anything to stop it, Linda feels terrible guilt for cheating on Earl and tries to get her name off his will but can’t, and even Earl uses his last breaths to confess his mistreatment of his son and wife and begs for forgiveness from Frank, but does not receive it.
The rain of frogs signifies God’s wake-up call to all. The rain of frogs – an extremely strange, almost absurd situation – was God’s way of telling everyone that they had wronged and sinned. However, the shower is his message that he is always watching over the world and can intervene to help when help is needed. After the rain of frogs, the characters seem to either come to terms with their problems and succeed or, in the case of Jimmy Gator’s death, fail. It shows that even though God is there to help, not everything always goes perfectly and there are always those who are punished instead of saved.
Please note that this is not an official interpretation and that the frog splash scene is among the most debated topics in the film world. Take my interpretation at your own discretion and form your own opinion on that, which is most likely what writer PT Anderson intended.
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