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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.
Everyone who saw the critically acclaimed film “Magnolia” undoubtedly left the theater with perhaps a sense of awe, but most likely immense confusion at its ending, especially the scene with the rain of frogs.
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. A woman is 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 a spool of rope when a boy commits suicide
o the first temperature reading
o movie poster at the bus stop on Magnolia Blvd
o poster about hanged convicts
o Jim Kurring’s box number on the contact line
o Sydney Barringer’s mother and father’s apartment number is 682
o forensic science convention starts at 8:20
o Delmer Darion flips a deck of cards to reveal an 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 “Exodus 8:2” (seen again when the frogs fall and hit Kurring’s car)
o number on the firefighting aircraft.
o in marcy’s pictures, her criminal record number is 82082082082
In the bar scene there is a board with two teams, the frog and the clouds, the score is 8 to 2
o spray-painted on the cement like graffiti next to the boy.
o a member of the game show audience holds a placard with the inscription Exodus 8:2
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 kill all your borders with frogs.
Another important piece of the puzzle comes from Dixon, the boy who raps Jim after discovering the murders. The following is an excerpt from Dixon’s rap:
Check that ego, take it off, I’m a prophet,
You live to grow old with a chip on your shoulder.
He runs away from the devil, but he always gets debt,
When the sun doesn’t work, the good Lord brings rain.
Dixon calls himself “The Prophet” but could be interpreted as an extension of God. He retrieves Jim’s gun after losing it, but during the 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 rap warn Jim to live to get ahead (“to grow old”), but there is something weighing him down. Dixon tells Jim that what he’s doing is wrong and warns him to stop. But Jim doesn’t listen to the rapper just like 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 God, if neglected, will bring rain.
An important key note is that all the characters admit their mistakes, but they can’t get past them. Claudia, for example, is addicted to cocaine but can’t do anything to stop, Linda feels terrible guilt for cheating on Earl and tries to remove her name from his will but can’t, and even Earl takes his last breaths to admit how was abused by his son and wife and begs Frank for forgiveness, but he doesn’t get 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 erred 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 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 turns out 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 shower scene is one of the most discussed topics in the film world. Take my interpretation at your own discretion and form your own opinion about it, which is most likely what writer PT Anderson intended.
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