The Seventh Sign (1988)

R | 96 mins | Drama | 1 April 1988

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HISTORY

       The 30 Mar 1987 DV announced The Boarder would begin principal photography on 6 Apr 1987, and production notes in AMPAS library files state that principal photography ended 30 Jun 1987. Filming locations included Venice, CA, Los Angeles, CA, and St. Joseph, Dominica. The 18 Nov 1987 Var reported the film’s title was changed to The Seventh Sign.
       John Taylor, an actor with Downs Syndrome, made his feature film debut in The Seventh Sign.
       An article in the 1 Apr 1988 LAT questioned the identity of the credited writers on the film. Items in the 4 Mar 1987 Var, the 17 Mar 1987 HR and the 30 Mar 1987 DV reported that Clifford and Ellen Green wrote the script for The Boarder. However, the credited writers are W. W. Wicket and George Kaplan. According to the LAT, Wicket was a pseudonym the Greens shared on the 1986 film Spacecamp (see entry), and the article noted that “George Kaplan” is the name of the character who does not exist in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film North By Northwest (see entry). The Writers Guild would not confirm whether the Greens were Wicket or who might have used the pseudonym George Kaplan. Several production sources told the LAT that Kaplan was hired to rewrite the script, and the Greens were unhappy with the situation and “distanced themselves” from the film by using their Wicket pseudonym. The LAT confirmed that Clifford Green, Ellen Green, “W. W. ... More Less

       The 30 Mar 1987 DV announced The Boarder would begin principal photography on 6 Apr 1987, and production notes in AMPAS library files state that principal photography ended 30 Jun 1987. Filming locations included Venice, CA, Los Angeles, CA, and St. Joseph, Dominica. The 18 Nov 1987 Var reported the film’s title was changed to The Seventh Sign.
       John Taylor, an actor with Downs Syndrome, made his feature film debut in The Seventh Sign.
       An article in the 1 Apr 1988 LAT questioned the identity of the credited writers on the film. Items in the 4 Mar 1987 Var, the 17 Mar 1987 HR and the 30 Mar 1987 DV reported that Clifford and Ellen Green wrote the script for The Boarder. However, the credited writers are W. W. Wicket and George Kaplan. According to the LAT, Wicket was a pseudonym the Greens shared on the 1986 film Spacecamp (see entry), and the article noted that “George Kaplan” is the name of the character who does not exist in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film North By Northwest (see entry). The Writers Guild would not confirm whether the Greens were Wicket or who might have used the pseudonym George Kaplan. Several production sources told the LAT that Kaplan was hired to rewrite the script, and the Greens were unhappy with the situation and “distanced themselves” from the film by using their Wicket pseudonym. The LAT confirmed that Clifford Green, Ellen Green, “W. W. Wicket,” and “George Kaplan” were represented by the same William Morris agent.

      End credits include the following statements: “Special thanks to: The government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica, the staff and children of the Franklin Elementary School, the Taylor family for their deep understanding and profound support, Video Tape Library”; “Prerecorded footage supplied by CNN, ©Cable News Network, Inc. 1985, All rights reserved”; and, “Filmed in part at Ren-Mar Studios and Raleigh Studios, Hollywood, California.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Mar 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1988
p. 3, 54.
Los Angeles Times
1 Apr 1988
p. 8.
New York Times
1 Apr 1988
p. 20.
Variety
4 Mar 1987
p. 28.
Variety
18 Nov 1987.
---
Variety
6 Apr 1988
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Tri-Star Pictures Presents
An Interscope Communications Production
From Tri-Star-ML Delphi Premier Productions
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
2d unit dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Elec best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
Loc lighting and grip equip supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Conceptual artist
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Draperyman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
COSTUMES
Ms. Moore's knitwear by
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus score prod by
Mus score eng by
SOUND
Sd des
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Dubbing rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Spec eff coord
Spec eff supv
Spec eff supv
Asst visual eff ed
Spec visual eff
Visual eff supv
Matte artist
Visual eff photog
Visual eff photog
Visual eff photog
Visual eff photog
Visual eff photog
Anim eff
Anim eff
Anim eff
Anim eff
Visual eff prod supv
Dream Quest prod mgr
Titles and opticals by
Title des by
MAKEUP
Spec makeup eff by
Hairstylist
Key makeup artist
Spec eff makeup application
Addl spec eff makeup by
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Historical consultant
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Scr supv
Extras casting
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation coord - Dominica
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Gurian
Asst to Ms. Moore
First aid
Catering by
Caribbean charter air provided by
Caribbean charter air provided by, Tyden Air
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Mummies," recorded by J.S. Roberts,from the album "Caribbean Island Music," courtesy of Nonesuch Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Jenae," composed by David Kurtz.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Boarder
Release Date:
1 April 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 April 1988
Production Date:
6 April--30 June 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Tri-Star Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 May 1988
Copyright Number:
PA369080
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28678
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A mysterious man, calling himself David Bannon, breaks the wax seal on a parchment note and drops the paper on a Haitian beach. As David leaves, dead fish wash up on the shore. Later, Father Lucci, an emissary of the Vatican, travels to a village in the Israeli desert which has inexplicably frozen over. As experts ponder the mystery, Father Lucci notices a letter with a broken seal buried in the ice, and reveals that this village was built over Sodom, a village destroyed by the wrath of God centuries earlier. In Venice, California, Abby Quinn, who previously lost a baby, is reassured by Dr. Inness that her current pregnancy is progressing well as they approach the baby’s leap year due date, February 29. At home, Abby’s husband, Russell, is upset that the state denied an appeal to stop the execution of his client, Jimmy. Russell has a strong case that Jimmy’s trial lawyer was incompetent, and plans to appeal again. He is relieved to hear the baby is doing well. Abby attempted suicide after their first baby’s death, and Russell worries about losing her if this baby also dies. That night, Abby dreams of walking through a catacomb toward a gate, where a man wearing a signet ring strikes another man across the face, and asks Abby if she would die for him. Abby wakes up screaming, “No.” Russell and Penny Washburn, an expert on death sentence appeals, visit Jimmy in prison. Russell wants to have Jimmy declared incompetent so the court will consider an appeal, but Jimmy refuses to go to the hospital. His ... +


A mysterious man, calling himself David Bannon, breaks the wax seal on a parchment note and drops the paper on a Haitian beach. As David leaves, dead fish wash up on the shore. Later, Father Lucci, an emissary of the Vatican, travels to a village in the Israeli desert which has inexplicably frozen over. As experts ponder the mystery, Father Lucci notices a letter with a broken seal buried in the ice, and reveals that this village was built over Sodom, a village destroyed by the wrath of God centuries earlier. In Venice, California, Abby Quinn, who previously lost a baby, is reassured by Dr. Inness that her current pregnancy is progressing well as they approach the baby’s leap year due date, February 29. At home, Abby’s husband, Russell, is upset that the state denied an appeal to stop the execution of his client, Jimmy. Russell has a strong case that Jimmy’s trial lawyer was incompetent, and plans to appeal again. He is relieved to hear the baby is doing well. Abby attempted suicide after their first baby’s death, and Russell worries about losing her if this baby also dies. That night, Abby dreams of walking through a catacomb toward a gate, where a man wearing a signet ring strikes another man across the face, and asks Abby if she would die for him. Abby wakes up screaming, “No.” Russell and Penny Washburn, an expert on death sentence appeals, visit Jimmy in prison. Russell wants to have Jimmy declared incompetent so the court will consider an appeal, but Jimmy refuses to go to the hospital. His parents were brother and sister, and Jimmy insists he executed them according to the word of God. Russell argues that incest may be against the laws of God, but Jimmy will be sent to the gas chamber according to California law. However, Jimmy refuses to change his mind. The mysterious stranger, David Bannon, arrives in California and rents Abby and Russell’s garage apartment. When they invite their new boarder to dinner, a sparrow flies into the room. Abby reaches for a broom, but David stops her and the bird flies outside. David apologizes for being abrupt, and shares the Hebrew story of the hall of souls, known as the “Guf.” Whenever a baby is born, only sparrows see its soul descend from the Guf and they sing to celebrate. Abby likes the tale and buys a mobile of sparrows at a baby store. It is raining outside, and she sees David. Planning to offer him a ride, she follows David into a synagogue. However, a janitor stops her and claims no one else entered. David watches from a balcony as Abby leaves. He breaks the seal on another parchment and Abby collapses in pain as David drops the paper. Abby is stabilized at the hospital, but Dr. Inness warns Russell that they must keep Abby from going into labor for another two weeks. Abby believes the problem is different from her earlier pregnancy, but no one listens. Father Lucci travels to Nicaragua, finds a river of blood, and realizes it is another apocalyptic prophesy fulfilled. However, Father Lucci reports to the Vatican that the various incidents are not signs of the apocalypse, and declares everything is scientifically explainable or a hoax. David visits Abby, and watches the violent news coverage on television. He used to think the world would change, but now he believes it has not because mankind lacks faith. David declares the course toward death is chosen, and he is sorry about the baby. Abby sneaks into David’s apartment and searches his desk, discovering articles about death, Jimmy’s execution, and dismembered infants. She takes a paper written in Hebrew, with the date “2-29” at the top. Abby worries that the parchment refers to her baby’s birthday, but Russell believes she is overreacting. He insists David is not after the baby, but agrees to ask him to leave. Abby meets with Avi, a Jewish teenager, who tells her the letter is written in a secret Hebrew code, and “2-29” is not a date, but refers to a biblical passage that talks about signs preceding the apocalypse. At the library, Abby discovers the “Guf” is the final sign of the apocalypse. There are a finite number of souls in the Guf and when it is empty, the first infant born without a soul heralds the end of the world. Abby thinks David is a religious fanatic who believes killing her baby will end the world. Hysterical, she telephones Russell’s office and he takes her call, missing his opportunity to speak to the governor about staying Jimmy’s execution. He asks his colleague Penny to try the governor again as he leaves to meet Abby at home. Another prophesy, the blood red eclipse, occurs as Abby returns home to find David waiting. The baby is dying, he informs her, because the Guf is empty and the child has no soul. David admits he tried to intercede, but God has judged mankind. Abby picks up a knife, but David tells her he cannot die again. He was the lamb in a prior incarnation, but has returned as a lion. David wants Abby to know the truth and reaches for her. She stabs him with the knife and golden light emanates from David’s wound. Abby faints and is rushed to the emergency room, where no one believes her story. Sedated, she has another vision of walking through a tunnel, and realizes the man being hit is David, who was Jesus Christ. Dr. Inness tells Russell that Abby’s delusions may seem real, but they are a result of stress. When Abby returns home, Russell leaves her with a nurse while he returns to work on Jimmy’s appeal. Father Lucci arrives at a rectory in California and an old priest recognizes him as “Father Morel,” wondering why Morel has not aged in seventy years. Lucci murders the old priest to silence him. David visits Abby and she asks what might happen if an apocalyptic sign was stopped. David reveals the chain would be broken, but he looks at the scars on her wrists and wonders how someone who had so little hope could give life to the world. She determines to try and goes downtown to find Avi. As she nears Avi’s home, a hailstorm begins. Abby trips and Father Lucci comes to her rescue, telling her that he has come to help her and the baby. He knows she is the seventh and final sign, and she shares that David told her God would grant the world a second chance if one of the signs was halted. As he doubts the signs can be stopped, Abby notices his signet ring, and the complete memory of her previous life comes back to her. Abby was present when Lucci struck Christ and asked if she would die for him. Lucci admits to being Cartaphilus, Pontius Pilate’s gatekeeper who struck Christ and was subsequently cursed to live until the world dies. Lucci claims Abby is his deliverance from that curse. She runs away to find Avi, and they discuss the remaining signs of the apocalypse, including the death of the last martyr and an earthquake. When Abby and Avi learn that Jimmy’s appeal was denied and he is about to be executed, they realize the “Word of God” killer is the last martyr. Abby and Avi rush to the prison to halt the execution, and burst inside as Father Lucci accompanies Jimmy into the gas chamber area. Father Lucci grabs a guard’s gun and aims at Jimmy, but Abby dives in the way and is hit by the bullet. However, Jimmy was also shot and he dies. A massive earthquake begins as Abby goes into labor, and she is rushed to the hospital. Abby gives birth to a boy, but the baby does not have a heartbeat. Abby cries out that she will die for him and reaches for the baby. She grasps his hand and hears her son cry before she dies. As the baby lives and the earthquake stops, David appears. He tells Russell that Abby’s hope filled the hall of souls again. David tells Avi to share Abby’s story so people will take advantage of the opportunity she has given them, then he walks off into the light. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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