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The Seventh Sign

The Seventh Sign

By Patrick Samuel • September 22nd, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
TriStar Pictures

Original release: April 1st, 1988
Running time: 97 minutes

Director: Carl Schultz
Writers: Clifford Green, Ellen Green
Composer: Jack Nitzsche

Cast: Demi Moore, Michael Biehn, Jürgen Prochnow

The Seventh Sign

We live in a world filled with signs. They’re everywhere in our daily lives, ranging from traffic lights telling us when it’s safe to cross the road, to those little bars on our mobile phones that tell us when they need to be re-charged – but there are other signs as well. Some tell us when things around us are about to happen; things we need to be careful of and things we need to prepare for. Not everyone can see these signs, but those with a particularly sensitive or heightened form of perception can’t escape them – hard as the might try. They can come to us in the form of dreams or be right in front of us plain as day in the waking world, but these signs can also come with a messenger.

The Seventh Sign is a film I first saw on VHS in 1989 together with my family one afternoon. I was only 10 at the time but by that age I’d already developed an interest in supernatural stories, especially those dealing with prophecies. I’d been watching Unsolved Mysteries, hosted by Robert Stack, for some time and I was growing increasingly aware that there things around us we just didn’t understand yet.

The film introduces to a young married couple, Abbey (Demi Moore) and Russell (Michael Biehn), who are anxiously expecting their first child to be born on February 29th, the leap day in the Gregorian calendar which only occurs every four years. Needing a lodger for their spare room, a mysterious wanderer David (Jürgen Prochnow) answers the ad and moves in with them.

Though they’re at first welcoming of the stranger, Abbey’s curiosity about him soon grows to suspicion with the stories he tells them. For example, after dinner one night he tells her about the Chamber of Guf – the Hall of Souls located in Heaven. Together with the increasing violence and tragedy in the world beamed through the news on the television into their home, Abbey starts to feel an overwhelming sadness which is shared by David, but these world events, such as the smiting of a city where Gomorrah once stood, oceans of blood and dead fish, a red moon and a coming eclipse, are all signs that have been long written about in holy books. At the site before each of these events takes place we see David breaking an ancient seal, so we already know he’s a messenger with a Divine purpose.

The Seventh Sign

Later on we find more about the Chamber of Guf; when the Hall of Souls is emptied and the first child is born without a soul, the Messiah will return to judge humanity. The child will of course be Abbey’s, and while Russell is reluctant to believe these facts at first, he eventually comes to realise their lodger is a messenger of God, here on Earth to do his bidding.

There’s a lot going on in the subplots as well, involving various mythologies, and these all meet up toward the end to form one complete story. There’s Father Lucci (Peter Friedman) who offers his help to Abbey but has his own motives for wanting to see the final sign come to pass. There’s also the execution of young man who killed his parents who were brother and sister and together with the dreams Abbey’s been having of a Roman Centurion and being asked to die for Christ, The Seventh Sign packs a lot into 97 minutes, making it an impossible film to forget.

One of the most moving and unforgettable scenes comes when Abbey removes her bath robe and steps naked into a hot bath. We see her holding a razor to her wrist, The Seventh Signwhere there’s already a scar from a previous self inflicted wound, and then breaking down in tears, unable to do it again.

As the first film I’d ever seen with Demi Moore, I was so captivated by the vulnerability of Abbey’s character and how she portrayed it that I was eager to see any other films she’d been in, sometimes catching them on television broadcasts or when my older brothers rented something on video. Long before the internet that’s how we did it. The angelic score by Jack Nitzsche adds a lot of depth to the film as well, consisting of chorals and synth arrangements; the pieces are both memorable and suit the story perfectly.

It was a long wait for the film to be released on DVD but in the years in between I’d never forgotten about it. It remained etched in my memory as a film that was beautifully made and contains some strong and yet understated performances by its lead and supporting cast that also includes John Hurt. Sadly, it seems to be a film that’s today forgotten by many, but for me it was an important sign at a young age for the kind of stories I would always be drawn to.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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