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Analysis of the True Meaning of Magnolia
Warning: This article is a review of Magnolia and contains many spoilers.
While everyone who saw the much-lauded Flower of Administration was in awe, no doubt they left the theater feeling very confused by the ending, especially the scene with the rain of frogs.
The key to explaining the true meaning of this film lies in its many references to the Bible’s Exodus 8:2. The most obvious reference was the scene before the quiz show. A woman was seen holding a sign that read, “Exodus 8:2,” but was immediately removed from the audience by security.
Below are other examples of the numbers 8 and 2 from movies listed in the imdb.com trivia section.
o weather forecast: 82% chance of rain
o A gambler needs 2 for black but gets 8
o coil of rope when a boy kills himself
o initial temperature reading
o Movie poster at bus stop on Magnolia Blvd
o Hanged convicts’ placards
o Box number on Jim Curring’s date wire
o Sidney Barringer’s mother and father’s apartment number is 682
o The coroner’s hearing will begin at 8:20 a.m
o Delmer Darion turns over the cards to reveal 8 to 2 diamonds.
o After Jim Curring sees Donnie Smith climbing up the building, you can see a sign on the side of the road that says “Exodus 8:2” (it appears again when the frog crashes into Curring’s car)
o Firefighter’s aircraft number.
o On Marcy’s mugshots, her crime number is 82082082082.
In the o bar scene, there is a board with two teams, the frog and the cloud, and the score is 8-2.
o spray painted graffiti on the cement next to the boy.
o Game show contestants are holding placards that read Exodus 8:2
o The kids were two days away from the eighth week of the championship.
o Quiz Kid Donnie Smith won $100,000 on April 28, 1968.
o The first two numbers for the Tempt and Destroy Hotline (1-877-TAME-HER) are 82.
o One of the hanged men has 82 on his clothes
o Jim says he leaves work at 8:00 and Claudia suggests meeting in 2 hours
Exodus 8:2 –
The LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Let my people go, and they will serve me.'”
And if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your borders with frogs.
Another important piece of the puzzle comes from young Dixon, who raps at Jim after discovering the murder. The following is an excerpt from Dixon’s rap.
Check and remove this ego, I am the Prophet,
You live to grow old with a chip on your shoulder.
He is on the run from the devil, but his debts keep mounting.
When the sun doesn’t shine, the good Lord makes it rain.
Dixon calls himself a “Prophet,” but he can be interpreted as an extension of God. He retrieves Jim’s gun after losing it, but during a rain of frogs, the gun falls from the sky along with the frogs, indicating that the boy has some degree of control over events.
The second and third lines of the rap remind Jim to live high (“to grow old”), but something is weighing on him. Dixon tells Jim what he’s doing is wrong and warns him to stop. However, Jim doesn’t listen to the rapper any more than the Pharaoh of Egypt didn’t listen to Moses. This message is not just for Jim, but symbolizes the wrongdoings in the lives of all the other characters. The last line reminds us that if God is ignored, he will make it rain.
The important thing is that the characters all admit their mistakes, but they can’t overcome them. For example, Claudia is addicted to cocaine but can’t do anything to stop it, Linda feels so guilty about cheating on Earl that she tries to get her name out of his will but can’t, and even Earl admits to his abuse with his last breath. His son and wife beg Frank for forgiveness, but he receives none.
The rain of frogs represents God’s wake-up call to everyone. The rain of frogs – an extremely strange and almost absurd situation – was God’s way of telling everyone that they had done something wrong and sinned. However, the message is that the shower is always watching the world and can intervene when help is needed. After the rain of frogs, the characters seem to solve their problems and either succeed or, in the case of Jimmy Gator’s death, fail. It shows that God is there to help, but things don’t always work out perfectly and there are people who are punished instead of saved.
Note that this is not an official explanation, and the rain of frogs scene is one of the most controversial subjects in the film world. Take my interpretation as you see fit and give your own opinion on what author PT Anderson might have intended.
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