So I got this tweet a couple of days from one of you… and because I want you to know that I listen to you, and care very much about what you want to hear we are here. First, the tweet.

And actually, kudos to you Pancake, because dang, is this movie the very center of my wheel house. Sometimes I venture out to popular movies like Batman vs. Superman or Star wars or what have you but that is not what I do best. Movies that are nearly incomprehensible are my forté. Usually most movies that are hard to understand include fullon time travel paradoxes, or Ouroboros-esque movies that cycle out into the infinite. But I have had some success with you all on more normal films like The Prestige, Sicario, and a whole host of other more normal films that just didn’t completely make sense.

But Circle? Circle is EVERYTHING that spins my gears. Let’s see, we have Science Fiction – Check. Complex morality implications – check. In depth Philosophy diving – Check. Low budget, high concept, fantastic script, minimalist style, controversial ideas, Check, Check, Check, Check, and Check. This movie has everything.

Circle-Still-Machine-Aaron-Hann

My Review and Explanation of the Movie Circle

If you are unfamiliar with the movie, you will soon have to leave, but before you do – let me get you hooked on this crack. The movie begins with 50 people. Five Zero. Standing, in a dark room. They are all unconscious. But soon, one of the fifty wakes. Then another. And then it because super clear that they can’t move off their spots, or touch another person without something very bad happening. And soon people start dying. And ultimately, this group of Fifty, nope, Forty nine, nope, forty eight… need to figure out what is going on, or they are all going to die. Is it a psychopath’s twisted fantasy being played out? Is it an alien invasion experiment? No one has any idea at all. Here, watch the trailer, then… I’m sorry, but you are going to need to leave until you’ve seen the film. Fair enough? But I totally want you to see the film, and come participate in the conversation that I guarantee will get even more complicated than the movie itself.

Yeah, this thing has so so acting. Hyper-minimalist sets (I think we have one set in the entire movie until the last 2 minutes?), and even less in the way of special effects. I personally can’t imagine how these guys got 50 stereotypical individuals of every different walk of life to participate in this small film. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would have killed (see what I’m doing there?) to get in this movie. That would have been awesome! But some of the most minimal movies are the best to discuss, because they are more about their ideas and less about excitement, or special effects. Right?

Circle the Movie Overview

Sometimes when we go down the rabbit hole way too fast we lose people. So let’s talk through what actually happens in this movie. Like, just practically speaking. We’ll leave the philosophical conjecturing til later… but, oh I promise we will get to that soon enough. So what the heck happened?

The very beginning of the movie is all about the initial shock of this situation. The people wake and quickly begin freaking out. It is here that we learn the rules of the Movie Circle. Oh, are there rules in this movie.

Rule #1 – No stepping off your circle. If you step off your circle you will die quicker than any other rule being broken.

Rule #2 – No touching other people. That well set off a warning alarm. No one dies in the movie after touching someone, but it’s safe to assume that they would have, if they continued.

Rule #3 – Every few minutes someone random will die. Unless they vote.

Rule #4 – The person with the most votes will die.

Rule #5 – You cannot vote for yourself.

Rule #5 – In the case of a tie – crazy stuff happens. But generally speaking, if the voters don’t intervene, both will die.

Rule #6 – In the case of a tie, the voters can vote amongst the two, or even change their vote to someone else… which actually plays a significant part as this movie progresses.

Figuring these rules out cost a significant number of lives. This movie has the highest mortality rate of any movie I have ever seen. Like, not even World War Z or Zombieland comes close. People pop by violent electrical shock over and over again. But as the players start to figure out what is going on, the movie goes from shock, to stereotypical profiling, to then game playing. And moves through these stages fairly briskly. And I’ll talk more about each stage in a second. But as we approach the last few players we are left with a very ‘benevolent’ guy that has been orchestrating the survival of a girl and a pregnant woman. Good guy right?! Nope.

And when this guy wins the game, he assumes he is about to be let out, because he is the last man standing. Right? Except nope. The beeping count down continues… and he knows he’s about to die to. They had been assuming that last person would be released. But now he realizes this wouldn’t be the case. But instead of dying he’s in a tie. A TIE?!? What is happening here? Well, normally the dead get dragged away by some unknown force, but this time the pregnant woman’s feet are still on the pad, and the last remaining person is in a tie with the pregnant woman’s fetus. Which, is an interesting comment in it’s own right. But right now I’m just trying to marshal my way through the details of what physically happened. So I’ll leave that until later.

We find out later, in a voice over, that in that tie, because of Rule number Five, the people can’t vote for themselves… and the fetus couldn’t vote, the guy won that stalemate and the fetus was killed next.

And then, for the first time, we leave the dark room. And we see the guy (I think his name is Eric? Please understand, that it is nearly impossible to keep all these quickly disappearing names straight) in an aqueduct (which, as an ex-Angeleno, is a uniquely brilliant location to have them end up in) surrounded by other people staring into the sky… watching alien ships float across the sky. Are these other ‘winners’/’survivors’? Just random people? We don’t know. Cue the credits.

Right? Is that what you took away from what physically happened? Let’s make sure we get the really basic basics squared, because it’s about to get crazy up in here.

The Three Phases of the Movie Circle

As I mentioned above, there were three phases or cycles of discovery as the movie progressed. Almost like the Kübler-Ross cycle of grief, we sort of grow in our acceptance and discovery of the situation as it unveils before us. It starts out with discovery. The rules and the what of this experience. Then it moves on to a phase of stereotyping and moral justifying. And then finally it moves into a gamification of the situation. Each one is important and each one holds nuggets of truth that we need to unpack.

Phase 1 – What is happening

The ‘What is Happening’ phase is the most basic of the three phases. This is the rule discovery phase. It is the conjecturing about how they got here and a bit about the why they are here phase. But it’s formative in that the structure of the movie is built. The Philosophical rules are set here.

And it’s in this phase that we are given the liferaft conundrum. If you have attended a college Philosophy introduction course, you know of what I speak. It’s a simple mental exercise that you’ll understand immediately if you’ve never heard of it. Basically it goes something like this.

A cruise ship hits something and everyone is abandoning ship. In the chaos of the moment, 18 people dive into a life raft that can handle 8. But the severity of the situation doesn’t hit them until after the cruise ship has gone under and the life raft starts taking on water. So here we all are, reading the safety instructions on the life raft, and we realize how deep the crap is we are in. And now we have to decide, who stays in the life raft, and who goes. How do you even begin to build the psychological scaffolding necessary to make a decision as enormous as that?

Are you the guy that decides worth is based on salary? Are you that racist that decides to toss the minorities out because they are lesser than? What about age? Do we kick the older people out of the raft because they’ve already lived long lives? In Philosophy 101 this thought exercise has been a staple for years and years. So concept behind this movie isn’t anything new. But seeing it played out in this new and updated way gives it a fascinating spin.

Phase 2 – Stereotypical Posturing

As the survivors start moving from figuring out the rules and the what of their situation, they quickly head into the psychological scaffolding and justification of their rationalizing. As someone is dying every 2 or 3 minutes the conversation works in fits and starts. This isn’t a long drawn out 2 hour Philosophy class where you get to ponder your options. You either make a collective decision or someone is randomly chosen. And no one likes that option (beside the person chosen that is). So votes happen fast and furious and lots of them are about who spoke last. Or who was the racist? Or who was obviously trying to game this situation?

But this movie explores the realities of how this could possibly go down. I mean, without much in the way of veneer. We see conversations about the latino gang member, and how he beat his girlfriend. He didn’t last long. And wasn’t that one woman a porn star? Hrmmm. Those are fake breasts, right? And what about that lesbian who traveled the world working for NGO’s before marrying her partner and adopting a daughter. Does she deserve to live? “I mean, cause that’s a sin right” says the conservative, suspenders wearing white male. I mean heck, the first five people targeted were the oldest people – and there wasn’t much thought given to that decision at all. They’ve lived the longest, buh-bye.

It is probably the most openly racist, agist, sexist, and homophobic movie I’ve ever seen. And it works, because, what else are you going to do? One of the funniest moments of the movie is the woman who decides they all need to figure out what they have in common… so she would talk about herself and maybe it would ring a bell. Yeah, she was dead within a minute and a half. hahaha. The next guy who’s asked to talk about himself says, “Oh HELLLL no. I like living.” hahah.

Phase 3 – Winning the game

And in the final section of the movie, it moves from racist and stereotypical histrionics to move of a strategic game playing. Two sections of people realize that this entire experiment hinges around the pregnant woman, and the young girl standing next to her. The first group wants to save this duo, and the other group wants to kill them so that someone else would stand a chance to survive. So power moves are made in a very Survivor-esque struggle. I’ll give you one, but then you have to give me two, sort of a way. So instead of profiling around who DESERVES to survive, the movie moves into a sort of game posture where two different power groups are struggling for control.

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Circle Movie Philosophical Underpinnings

Ok, so most of you will skip this section and jump straight down to the Circle Ending, but you may be doing yourself a bit of a disservice if you haven’t spent at list a little bit of time under the eves of a College’s Philosophy department. And while many of these viewpoints are the most simplistic of Philosophical ponderings possible… they are still pretty critical to understanding this movie completely and helping you to come to final conclusion of what may have actually happened.

Theory #1 – The Circle and Nihilism

The King of Nihilism is none other than Nietzsche and then later on was Heidegger. Nietzsche is my own favorite post modern and Nihilist in that, if there is no God (which I disagree with, but if) then we should all be Nihilists. There really is no other option, and everything else is a trumped up fiction. But the basic viewpoint of Nihilism basically says that there is nothing beyond what we see. Not only that but that there is no reason for our being here. We were an accident of primordial soup, and you know what? That whole self awareness? That was a fluke too. Heidegger carried these thought constructs forward and was a fan favorite of Hitler. Which makes sense to me. But I don’t want to get too far down that particular beaten path.

As the movie was ending and we have our winner Eric standing exultantly, having tricked both the girl and the pregnant woman… when he hears the beeping again he yells out at the people in control of this experiment something to the effect of, “You know what? We are all fucking horrible people.” At this moment, the movie is the epitome of Nihilism. Everyone just dies. There is no point. This life experiment? It has zero purpose. We live. We die. And that’s that. Which reminds me of a quote from Nabokov (I mean, heck, we are already at 2,500 words, what’s a few more?) “The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” Yeah, that’s Nihilism. We are all going to die, so who cares if it’s a while dying on an alien ship while being tortured along the way? Nothing matters.

Theory #2 – The Circle and Determinism

Determinism is about as simple a philosophical theory as possible to understand. Basically it posits that everything happens for a reason, that nothing is an accident. We hear a Pastor speak about God’s will and how His purposes are always good in spite of our inability to understand them. And it was God that was ultimately in control. Determinism flies in the face of free will by stating that we are not in control, even what appears as freewill, is actually already predetermined and already known. There are a million different flavors of determinism and there are fullon doctoral dissertations on these variations. For example, William James’ essay on The Dilemma of Determinism appeared in 1884. And in it he coined the terms “soft determinism” (or compatibilism – man this is some rabbit hole I’m down right now), and “hard determinism” (strict determinsm… or better put, pre-determinism from the beginning of time).

If you look at the movie of Circle from the light of Hard Determinism it would state that God foreknew that aliens would come, and experiment on these humans, and that it is what it is because it was foreknown. Eric won because knew he would. Eric was a dork, because God knew he would be. Even my discussion of Eric’s dorkism is determined. We are locked in this path, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Theory #3 – The Circle and Plain Consequentialism or Benevolence

Plain Consequentialism basically just states that of all the things a person might do at any given moment, the morally right action is the one with the best overall consequences. (If there is no one best action because several actions are tied for best consequences, then of course any of those several actions would be right.) So, by sacrificing one’s self to save a young girl, it may very well be the best action over all. Right?

Another spin on this philosophy is that of Benevolence. Which was crafted by David Hume, and it states that all actions of a moral agent are motivated by character traits… whether they are virtuous or hostile. Hume would say that if you chose to donate money to a charity then your action was motivated by your virtuous character trait. And by making this action happen you have a very real impact on the receive of your action (giving food to a starving person will actually keep that person alive… and they will be impacted by that act.)

You can obviously see why either of these philosophical theories would be instrumental potentially in defining this theory. If people are capable of moral kindness, and these kindnesses impact others, should we not consider a benevolent response in deciding how to react in this scenario?

Theory #4 – Game Theory’s Prisoner’s Dilemma and Egoism

You know the prisoner’s dilemma. Two prisoners who committed a crime together are being held in separate cells. If they both stay silent they will both get one month in jail. If one of them snitches, the snitcher will go free, and the other will go to jail for a year. If no one snitches they both go to jail for 3 months. If they both snitch they both go to jail for 3 months. The question here is simple… as a prisoner in this situation, how do you game this scenario to gain the best possible outcome? (Want the best possible execution of the Prisoner’s Dilemma? Check out this play here which was discussed in detail on the podcast Radio Lab.)

Obviously, at the end of the movie, Eric makes a purely selfish manipulation of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. He gets the young girl to step off her space simultaneously with him (or so he says) and instead of stepping off he votes for the death of the pregnant woman. Eric basically plays the prisoner’s dilemma twice in the span of 2 seconds. The first time with girl, getting her to commit suicide, and the second time with the pregnant woman by voting her out… and thereby killing her.  If for you this movie is most adequately understood from a purely game theory standpoint then this is the theory that best depicts the primer movers for all these actors.

And if you couple Game Theory with the most selfish act possible you have just crossed the streams with Egoism. Egoism is simple enough to understand. It basically states that there is no such thing as an altruistic thought or action. Even if I give food to a starving person, I am only doing it because I want to impress you. Or I like feeling good about myself. Right? Egoists are a truly savage beast of a person to deal with.

Circle Ending and My Favorite Theory

This movie has a very specific world view that it is espousing. It’s obviously a very nihilistic and selfish perspective of the planet. That everyone should do what is best for themselves and that they should be justified in so doing whatever it is that they do if it furthers their purposes. Right? This thought experiment shouts loudly and clearly that since there is nothing but the abyss awaiting us, do whatever the hell you want to do to get yours.

I remember meeting a true anarchist/nihlist in my first Philosophy class. We actually became fast friends because he believed that since there was no God, he should live every moment for his own benefit. It was a logically clean system. I believe the exact opposite, that since there was a God, I should live benevolently. And our relationship was a bi-polar match made in heaven. We actually got along swimmingly because we believed in a pure system. Most people in the class stood firmly in the middle. They believed there was no God, and yet, they shouldn’t steal… they should act benevolently… for some purpose I didn’t understand.

My Anarchist friend, if here today would applaud Eric and his actions that manipulated his way to the end. And I applaud him too. Minus the fact that I believe in God and that there is a reason and prime mover that supersedes simply winning this alien game of twister. My two favorite guys in this movie was the young emo guy that chose to commit suicide early on. He was the first to do so. He did what I would do if I was really put in that situation. And the second was the man who never cast a vote and never said a word. Both of these characters were the most morally correct perspectives of how to play this game in real life in a world where God exists and our actions carry import.  So personally, I would side with Hume and Descartes that posit that our actions matter. That we all have a God shaped hole in our center that calls us to live benevolently and with a perspective beyond the moment.

But I would expect most people to go with would be that of the Game Theory explanation. That the person who is able to manipulate their way to the final tribal council is the winner come hell or high water. No? I’d love to hear your perspective on how the movie views the world, or how you view this exercise from your world view.

The Circle Epilogue and the Various UFOs

At the ending Eric is dumped into the Aqueduct, and he sees a number of others there too. Now, if you never lived near an aqueduct, you probably don’t know that you aren’t supposed to be in there. Sure, lots of movies and shows have car chases in aqueducts. But really? You can’t go into the aqueducts without getting in trouble. To have a stash of people just wandering around there makes zero sense. I would argue that all those people we see at the end are winners of their games. I even initially noticed a pregnant woman, and wondered if it was our pregnant woman. Which would imply that everyone in that ‘game’ survived, and that it was just one big psychological experiment.

But when I looked closer I noticed that the pregnant woman was not the same one. Which is a big deal from an explanation standpoint. Because it means that everyone really did in fact die. That it wasn’t a ruse. And that Eric had been complicit (no, not complicit but directly responsible!) in the deaths of 49 other people. Right?

If I am correct… what happened was this. Thousands, even millions, of people were abducted and made to play this game. When the game finished and there was one person left standing they were teleported back to earth to consider what it was that they had done. Right? And if the scale of the game was world wide, what would be left on planet earth would be 1/50th of the people… or 140 million people. And those 140 million people would be some of the worst, most egotistical people ever. 140 million people with the blood of almost 7 billion people on their hands.

And that is the larger picture that the movie creators want to posit. That we are all egoists. That we only should do what is right for our own best interest. That we should lie. Swindle. Steal. Whatever it takes to come out on top. No?

Personally I loved this movie. The acting was sparse. The writing was merely OK. But the theories at work underneath the surface here are fantastic. Just gorgeous. How would you play the game if you were forced to play? How do you think the creators of the movie believed the world should act if put in this position? Do you have one theory that really resounds for you? Or heck, bring your own philosophical theory to the table! There are a million to choose from. I literally cut out 5 more that I’d written out fully. But at 4,000 words now, I’m thinking this write up needs to stop and turn it over to you guys! I want to hear from you now.

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101 Responses

  1. Elizabeth aka Happy Pancake

    I tend to come at such movies from a “what would I do?” point of view. How would I fare? I have a self-preservation instinct, no poker face, sometimes make choices I wish I could change, can be judgmental, and am competitive. So if it was all a game, well, I might make it to mid-pack, but don’t t I would think I would last to the end. I also have a caring soul, a strong conscious, and a belief that kids should be protected at all costs. So, from a non-game perspective, I wouldn’t want to be the last man standing.

    All lives have expiration dates. If aliens came and made us play this game and shortened the lives of 49 of ever 50 people, the 49s would still be going back to God when they were done, the same as of they had never played. (heaven, afterlife, maybe even rebirth). By this thinking, winning the game doesn’t make you a winner. You still have to live with the things you do and answer for them when you’re done – the same as if you had never played, plus you may become the feisty pet of our new alien overlords that the ‘losers’ will never have to face.

    I also thought that different outcomes could have occurred in other spaceships. Perhaps in another ship, a little girl lived, or a silent man survived, so Eric winning on our ship is not a condemnation of the entire human race – just a sampling of possible outcomes. I don’t think it means that we are all egoists – but that the film is a warning or pleading not to be one. One of my favorite quotes: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. The film says – there are Erics among us, so be vigilant. Help one another and do what you can to care for your own soul.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Yeah, Elizabeth, I agree.
      If this situation were real. And you and I and 48 other random people were in this actual event really… the first thing you’d have to consider is voting for someone. Those that actively vote time and again do “better” from a survival standpoint. But by voting for someone you are complicit in their demise. Even one vote (even if unsuccessful) should be extraordinarily burdensome morally. I would think so anyway.

      So thinking about this situation realistically is kind of lame because I wouldn’t vote, let alone lobby for someone or against another. I’d probably be the silent guy in order to give the aliens as little about us as possible.

      But to think about it as a more intense version of the game Survivor? That would be tons of fun to try. To figure out when to speak and when to stay very very quiet. From the movie standpoint, the only thing necessary to see it as a game of survivor is to show several of the members of the 50 alive near the aqueduct. But alas. They did not.

      Most importantly, I liked your correction of my assumption evil would triumph in each game. It could be that the child wins occasionally, or a good person with a future might win? And yet, we are all broken, and decidedly selfish at some level. We are all in need of a saviour. Which from my vantage means that I’m not much of an optimist when it comes to human’s left to their own devices. But I prefer your optimism. Very much! hahah. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
      • rhonda

        reviewers are all discussing what went on inside the circle. however i think we as viewer should step outside the circle and ask more about “the power” that has created this circle game for their own inexplicable ends. so caught up in their own survival the participants, or victims have given up as useless the questions of who has put them thereand why. These are philosophical questions the people trapped in the circle dont have time for, their brains are fully occupied with the game itself. However the viewer does have the option of considering that if the circle as an analogy for life and how we live it, maybe we are meant to literally step outside the circle and consider more seriously who or what has constructed a human society that has behaved in this way. Firstly this is easier for me as i am not American and therefore am already outside the moral or ammoral social norms of the film. The people in the circle do not typify all humanity only that within the film makers scope. I could go on here to explain the relationship between the people in the circle,there actions and the unseen power that manipulates them. I have many ideas on this. However for those further interested in philosophical explaination with higher academic credentials than mine i suggest you watch Noam Chomskys documentary Requiem for the American Dream. Being his last interviews, it is not totally uptodate but still very valid. Follow it closely and you will understand more about the circle game than maybe the film makers even realised.

      • Taylor Holmes

        Rhonda,
        yeah – totally. Brilliant inside out thinking. Yeah, what would life look like in that reality? Where you are watching humans get nabbed left and right. You watch as only a percentage ever come back. Dang. It’d be a horrible world. Like the movie Arrival but backwards! hahah.

        And yeah, as a non-American you see and understand things that most Americans do not understand. (I’m sure I just offended some American somewhere.) This definitely could be a real view of the movie a real way to deconstruct it and understand the real message. I don’t think I ever reached out to the creators of the Circle, did I? Maybe I mentioned it in my post? Usually I try to. But that would be a fascinating discussion with them regardless.

      • John

        I just watched this movie and was looking for some sort of commentary about it. I can’t believe the overwhelmingly positive opinions on this page. I think it could have been condensed into a 20-30 minute short film and been more effective. The whole middle hour seemed to be the same stupid psychological horror shit repeated over and over again to kill off most the cast. The conclusion was so pathetically disproportionate to the rest the film it looked amateurish to me.

        I think some creators make these purposefully ambiguous films in order to give people who consider themselves to be intellectual something to think about and try to unravel.

        Also, lets not forget the high school level acting in this film. Some parts sounded like a parody.

      • freestone wilson

        wow! while I only could watch half of the movie on a poor youtube upload, I was Impressed. [cannot by dvd on amazon, they do not have it.]

        something struck me: psychopath! in *this* circle test, and who knows if other tests for other people were the same; they might not be at all, in this circle the psychopath wins.

        two images then came to mind!
        1…the article where the writer says that the reason these psychopath people are not removed from our gene pool is that they break walls! they do not care a whist about how you feel. they have an agenda and they will Do It, sometimes indeed over your dead body. we all might still be living in caves if it were not for these psychopaths. they get Things Done, things that most people would consider to be impossible!
        2…a Mad Magazine cartoon strip. a south sea island, you can see the 1300 A D village and a outrigger canoe in the sea, someone fishing with a net. next scene, the white man’s ship has arrived. next scene; a missionary church is now in the village and I can see the women wear skirts. next scene; the canoe is pulled up on shore and I see another fishing boat with a outboard motor and he has a fishing pole. last scene; this beached canoe is now an exhibit in the Smithsonian museum!
        —-and probably a descendant is now working in Washington as a bank teller, the family has a house in suburbia and everyone owns a smartphone.

        these circle people could not step out of their PSYCHOLOGICAL circles! each person has a fixed idea as to what is right. gay haters, racists, etc. no one steps out of their circles! only the psychopath did! now he will face a future where maybe there are 20 alien races in some kind of “Galactic federation”! talk about having to make 1,000,000 percent changes in one’s ideas of reality!! how would you like to be transported to face an alien culture that is 1000 to 10,000 more years advanced then yours?! could you step out of your biases, your fixed ideas of reality, your morals and ethics?!
        even now there is a terrible clash in universities where the sensitive youth see that the northern Europe white man’s ideas of reality has no meaning for them. imagine being a black lesbian lady! can these older university critics step out of their circles to understand the deep feelings of a lady who wishes to embrace her true self and to expand within herself the Beingness of Afro and Lesbos? no!! they cannot.
        we all live in our circles. at least the older generation people. and *can* one step out without being a classical psychopath?!

        freestone wilson

      • Taylor Holmes

        Nice. Like your Circle interpretation. I would LOVE to give the creators of this movie that kind of credit for thinking this idea through this far. Heck, I’m feeling generous. Why not. It definitely is an allegory of sorts. I mean… this isn’t a real thing. So I am buying what you are selling. A vantage point on our collective myopia. A tell all on our selfishness. I agree. We do inadvertently protect ourselves from other perspectives that don’t match our own.

        I think there is a game show in here. Or a reality TV show. Take myopic people and flip them into opposite world views to live in for a bit. (Wasn’t there like a wife swap show sort of like that?) Anyway, you could take a southern RV hick who’s never left his state, and put him on a plane for Seoul. And take a South Korean that can’t stand white people and drop them into the southerner’s RV park… could be eye opening. Or not.

    • Miyami

      It seems implied that the people Eric walks up to in the closing scene are the survivors of other circles. If you look closely you’ll see that out of about 15 people there are 2 pregnant women and at least 4 children…which would support your theory that other circles chose with more morality and benevolence.

      On the other hand, the whole deal with the pregnant women is much more nihilistic. During the entire “game” the pregnant woman is given favor because people assume that by saving her they would save 2 lives. Sadly though, we find that the fetus is counted among the participants, as Eric must vote to kill the fetus in the end. Which means it’s likely that those surviving pregnant women were forced to vote to kill their own baby, as they couldn’t vote for themselves, and a suicide would have killed the baby anyway. In this regard, nihilism takes center stage, as look how many people were sacrificed or sacrificed themselves for the baby (most notably that terrified, yet very brave little girl who admitted to Eric that she was doing it for the baby) when ironically the baby was the ONLY one who never had a chance to begin with.

      Reply
      • Quincy Scott

        That’s only half true. They established early on that you can’t vote for your own circle. There’s simply no way to do so. They show someone trying to point an arrow at themselves and that person is unable to do it. The pregnant woman would have no practical way to target her fetus. The fetus is in the same circle as she’s standing in. The only conceivable way shown in the movie would be for her to fall over onto another circle. However, that would constitute her leaving her own circle, which would immediately kill her. Most likely those pregnant women and their children lived, due to being in the same circle.

  2. Taylor Holmes

    Have you guys (Elizabeth, et al.) seen the movie Exam? Just flipped it on to see if it was something to put on my list… oh yeah. Looks fantastic. Very much similar to this movie. Gotta find time to watch it and review it.

    Reply
    • Tanya

      I’m not sure about Exam. I thought it was clever, but seriously doubt anyone would act like that in an interview, even if their worse job was the best job in the world. It’s another of those movies that raises a lot of questions and theories in human nature and again plays with stereotypes.

      Reply
      • Taylor Holmes

        Hey Tanya, I started that movie you recommended… the Korean (Japanese?) one? Oh yeah, The Beauty Inside. Got 15 minutes in and my iPad smacked me literally in the face after falling asleep. Not that it was boring, but I had spent the night watching ‘Approaching the Unknown’ (post is going out tonight) and finishing Demolition (later this week?). Definitely looks like a very interesting movie. We shall see if I can get it to the front of my queue for a night! hahah.

      • jiva

        I have to disagree with you on EXAM. True, under normal circumstances no one would act like this in an interview. But these were not normal circumstances (easy to forget with the clean suits and pristine room):
        1) The entire world was afflicted with an incurable and fatal disease
        2) the job literally meant the difference between life and death for more than one person in the room
        3) there were no rules except the 2 or 3 initially stated .
        combine the lack of clear instructions with that countdown, and the thought of life/opportunity slipping thru your fingers… I can see many people going that route .

  3. Tanya

    I loved this film, found it while randomly looking for something to watch and wow what a philosophy gem. Simple storyline but agree it gives you so much to think about.

    On first viewing it annoyed me that they figured out the rules so quickly, there wasn’t really anything to draw that conclusion, but for the sake of the story understood why it was introduced and let it go. The movie would have been pretty boring if it was about a panicked group that spend the whole movie just freaking out in the ‘what is happening?’ stage until one was left.

    The movie felt like it was saying it was a mass experiment. That all the people we see wondering around the aqueduct looking at the alien ships were all survivors. Like some massive social science experiment, we don’t know if it is the whole world, but guess each person experienced a circle with 50 others.
    But it’s open ended, we don’t know what happened in the other circles, and how they all dealt with the situation they found themselves in. We can see from the various types of people that each circle was played differently. But we also don’t know what kinds of circles each was, maybe some were all pregnant woman, or all children or all people that knew each other, there are more than 50 stereotypes in the world.
    When I saw the pregnant woman I wondered if the fetas survived or if she had to make a choice to vote for the baby to save herself. In theory the fetas wouldn’t survive if she died, but still would the pregnant woman in Eric’s circle have to choose to save herself and loose her baby, if he had been honest about playing to try and save her?

    We also don’t know if the other 49 people did die, we presume they did, but we don’t know. The circle isn’t littered with dead bodies, they get removed. No one checks to see if they are unconscious or if they died, because no one can leave their spot to check. Even at the end there is still no answer about what happened to the other 49 members of the circle.
    I think it is unfair to hold the survivors responsible for their murders. We don’t have any dead bodies and it’s not as if any of them were responsible for the situation, they just happened to be the survivors.
    We only see how Eric’s circle handled the situation, how quickly they figured out the rules and how they played it. There is no follow up, no conversations with the other survivors to find out how they experienced the circles. No explanation of the alien ships and what that was about, or what happens next.

    The guy that didn’t vote could have not voted for a number of reasons, maybe he was in a state of shock and went rabbit in a headlight mode, maybe he didn’t understand english and never got that there were rules to the game, he could have never gotten past the ‘what is happening?’ stage. Besides how do we know he never voted, it works with a thought, we have no idea who is voting for who, all we see is who got the most votes.

    For the sake of this story Eric’s circle is interesting, because it does play the idea of how people deal with competition and how they all tried to play the game in how they judged each other and themselves. Is the survivor the one that values themselves the most, or who the group value the most?
    How would we play the game, who would we vote for, or debate who to try and save.

    Not everyone is like Eric, we can see that from the various people also in the aqueduct, and also when he is walking around, you see him thinking and there is guilt at he looks at the pregnant lady and then the alien ships and other survivors. This is the world he has fought so hard to now survive on, with all these other people and he doesn’t know how they played their circle. He goes full circle to the ‘what is happen? stage and not knowing the rules.

    Reply
  4. M.J.

    I liked this film too, but I kind of wished that the ending was bigger. I would’ve liked to see the people (at the end) staring into the sky be beamed up into the craft. A more defined ending would have let us know Eric didn’t win. He would have to play that game again and again. He’s probably not the kind of person who has to “live” with what he’s done. He doesn’t care so it’s not a good enough punishment for killing a pregnant woman and ten year old child. Also, I would’ve liked for the “red room and piles of bodies” to be explored just a little more; maybe at the end. I know the movie wasn’t about the actual alien invasion and the aircraft itself, but I need more for it to seem more real or complete. Overall I thought it was pretty good.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Ambiguous movies are where it is at. Seriously. Leave it loose and I can obsess about it. Tie it down, and I have a harder time pointing my brain at it. Just saying.

      But yeah, the red room. That is a fascinating point. Me too. Was that just the staging area where they prepped everyone? Hrmmm.

      Reply
      • Hannah

        A clever way to debut into the movie scene, too. You bet I’m gonna go looking for their next movie. Even if it has nothing to do with this one, I am left wanting more and so I will go search for it. Brilliant marketing.

  5. Michael Darwin

    Great analysis. We spent two episodes of the Dark Discussions Podcast on the film, one just reviewing the film, another interviewing actor Dan Lench (the sweater guy). One of my favorite films of 2015.

    I like how it sort of parallels our interactions on the internet. We are (mostly) anonymous, and that allows us to be at our worst when dealing with others. We start with negative assumptions that confirm our own biases, and can’t be easily reasoned out of them.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Look at you Michael… getting new subscribers whilst commenting at the same time? Brilliant marketing amigo. Brilliantly played. But where were you the other day when I threw a call out for fantastic podcasts to listen to? My well had completely dried up and daggum I think I got like one comment in total? Brrr, chilly!

      Hahaha. This is a fantastic flick. Very cleverly played. If I was told to write a screenplay about this idea… I could not have pulled it off. I just would not have been able to come up with a winning concept like they did here. So kudos to these guys for making the improbable happen. love this little flick. Thanks for swinging by Mike, and I look forward to listening in!

      Reply
  6. A.A

    Very disturbing movie to me shows the dark side of human nature. Why do u guys think the atheist didn’t die at first ? When he talked about God. Was it voted? When he was talking about an idea or concept it was ok but once he started to talk about the woman people started to get scared. He was right though ppl did worship the machine trying to figure out the game. He was truly saved by god until he decided to switch sides. And the two who were in love, who voted for them? Nobody was discussing them when they were chosen. Maybe the aliens are interfering with the outcome it’s not totally based around votes. To me it seems there is no clear logic behind this game. It is all about who sided with who and manipulation. I don’t think the rules were established by the machine but by the ppl themselves, coz they were not consistent and changed through the whole movie. Maybe if nobody voted like the silent guy they would have all survived. It was all assumptions. Theydidn’t test this theory, did they? Anyone care to explain ?!

    Reply
    • Ricky

      When your interacting with people there are unspoken rules and spoken rules that change by on people’s values wants desires and the power they have. People fell into and put of power and used it to thier advantage.

      Reply
  7. Some Dude

    Nietzsche was not a nihilist. His entire philosophy hinges on us having to create new meaning for ourselves, not that there is “no meaning”. This is not my own personal reading, it’s agreed upon by most Nietzsche scholars.

    I’m gonna have to vote you out of the circle for that.

    Another point of disagreement- at the end we see a lot of (possible) game survivors, many of which are pregnant women and children. Which means that a cunning psychopath did not win every single game.

    Total speculation-
    Why the aliens did this is not known, but it would (probably) enrich the human population with the aforementioned cunning psychopaths, and significantly purge it of highly socially inept people. It may be that they are trying to accelerate our social evolution in a way that we may find difficult to understand. Perhaps, in an intergalactic society, it is best when the races are known to behave in a completely self-interested way (as in the “rationally bound” agent of decision theory). This may be necessary because intergalactic civilizations have access to weapons that are capable of Mutually Assured Destruction on a galactic level.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey Some Dude,
      Sure. Yes. He attempted to find meaning post the killing of god. And what was his solution? Hugging a tree. Literally. Yes, I am well aware of Nietzsche’s ‘attempt’ to find meaning. But all scholars agree that it was an AWFUL solution. His tearing down of meaning was infinitely better done than his attempt at rebuilding meaning.

      Take Nietzsche’s discussion about the sisyphean struggle – Sisyphus found meaning at that moment, at the crest of the hill, just before the boulder rolled back down, in that millisecond it all made sense despite the curse and the scourge of constantly trudging his way back to the bottom and pushing the boulder back up again?! This is meaning? Really? Yeah, no… I get it, “scholars” all agree that Nietzsche attempted to define meaning in the face of nothingness, and I personally think he went mad in his failure to do so. Yes, I could have explained that some more… and yet, most really don’t care. You are the first to mention it anyway! hahaha. So kudos to you.

      Now, as to your speculation – could be. Or these aliens are fullon psychopaths and sadistic freaks and just derive infinite pleasure in the pain and suffering of others. Seriously though, as was mentioned by others, I don’t think it could be that they were “purifying” the human race in that as you notice from the other experiments, not all of them ended up like the one we witnessed. Children, mothers, elderly are seen standing there looking at the ships. So some of the groups were less self motivated than ours anyway. But I get your point – that it definitely would change the overall makeup of the human population if everyone went through that experiment.

      Reply
  8. greg

    From seeing the pregnant women at the end, I disagree that the movie was about nihilism. To me it just seemed like a dark social commentary. The author chose to write about a ship where the self serving, perhaps sociopath, won. This skewed the focus away from the more benevolent discussions that must have taken place in other ships where kids or pregnant women won, and instead to a (more common I would argue) swath where more selfish, petty, and dark discussions took place. This theory is supported by the fact that several current social issues took center stage throughout – racism, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, is there a God, and so on.

    I don’t believe it was meant to be hopeful or condemning, just a reflection. It definitely wants us to take a good long look at ourselves, though. Typically, that is done with the intention of bettering one’s self. And what are stories, if not meant to make us think and be better off for it.

    I personally would have tried to use my debate skills to save the girl, then sacrifice myself at the end. No one knows what the world would look like if the winner got released. A pregnant woman could have a hard time surviving an apocalyptic scenario. Also, giving birth could be dangerous, then survival for both would be very difficult if the mom made it that far. Kids, on the other hand, especially ones of the age the girl in the movie was, are natural survivors. They can eat little, and not even very healthy food, and survive. They also have a lot of energy and could run a lot and hide well if need be. Plus they have the longest to live, and if humanity survived the alien visitation, they could still procreate. So saving a kid would be the best choice for saving mankind. Also, and more importantly, I believe God would want the kid to survive, based on a variety of scriptures.

    Have you ever seen The Exterminating Angel? If not, based on what I’ve read on your site, I think you would love it.

    Reply
  9. Marquita

    I’m so glad this page exists just because I just finished watching and immediately went online searching for answers. Well done.

    Reply
    • greg

      Hi Marquita, I feel the same way. I finished a mindbender time travel movie with an open ending, went online to see if someone figured it out, and found this website. I feel like I’ve found my people! Taylor is awesome!

      Reply
    • Samantha

      lol same for me, I had so many unanswered questions. What If the circle, is a circle and the survivors have to go through the process again. What if it wasn’t Eric’s first time in that situation.

      This movie, really did bring back my four years at University, studying Philosophy…

      Reply
    • Hannah

      Me, too! I was hoping for something dull to fill the air while I folded laundry and here I am, awake in the wee hours of the night reading about this movie and trying to decide if I have time to watch it again tomorrow while my kids are napping. My all time favorite movie is 12 Angry Men, and this is right up the same alley. Simple set, engaging dialogue. My husband hates when I get to pick the movie for date night. 🙂 Guess what we’re watching next?

      Side note Taylor, your blog ranks first on Google when I searched for “Circle movie explanation”. Kudos!

      Reply
      • Taylor Holmes

        Hey there Hannah…
        Glad you get to pick the movie on date night occasionally! And glad to hear that it ranks well for once! hahah. No, of the 200+ thousand people that visited in December, 85% come from people searching for movie explanations in Google. And generally, explanation is the word that most aptly characterizes what I do, and what people are looking for.

        Just watched Arrival, “Aliens did what?! explain arrival to me someone please!”
        Just watched primer, “For the love of God and all that is holy, explain it to me.”
        Just watched Circle, “What the heck?! someone explain circle to me please.”

        I’d prefer to be characterized by “discussion” more so than “explanation” because I feel pretty ill-prepared to explain really anything. But whatever. Thanks for the comment and for swinging by.
        Taylor

  10. Kyrie

    The movie to me I took it as a mass invasion. He is an alien in disguise and the ultimate goal is to kill as many people as possible and his take at being logical and out smarting everyone he saved himself that long to the end and ultimately killed everyone and now he is going to another group to do the exact same. Because it quotes what he said in the beginning of it all. It makes perfect sense he acts as if he’s one of them hides out and then wins by taking all human life it’s a game of study to them. The next group he got with hasn’t been inducted yet but rather in awe. He’s going to do the same thing there and so on and so forth.

    My explanation is this he was an alien in disguise misled people outsmarted outplayed and will bounce around and do it over and over again.

    Reply
    • Josh

      His reaction before the baby reveal, his confused look while taking in the other people at the end, and the mix of people staring up at the ships does not seem to jive with the theory that he was an alien and that this was just his next group of victims. It would seem awfully odd to have a diverse mix of men and women, four kids, and two pregnant women who just happen to be standing next to a canal, which they normally would have had no reason to be by. I believe it points much more heavily to them being other “survivors.”

      Reply
  11. Dee

    The problem with this film is that it’s a film. It only works because everyone (or at least, the vast majority) has to voice their opinion, or else there’s no constructive dialogue, social commentary or device to create factions. In a realistic setting, as soon as the first person got zapped for opening their mouth on an opinion or what they are or do, no one else would be willing to reveal any details about themselves or accuse another person. Doing so would be self-incriminating no matter what your viewpoint was. I was also surprised no one brought up the idea of using a mathematical lottery of some sort. Math is the only fair answer in this scenario. The greatest mistake in the film is made by the Asian youth when he reveals his discovery on the arrows. Had he never said a word, he might have been the last one standing. All he had to do was keep quiet, play dumb, and slowly vote everyone off. This also reveals a flaw in the beginning that because no one knew they could vote, there would have been an infinite tie.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey Dee…
      I don’t disagree – except the show survivor says otherwise. Sure, it’s a million on the line and not a life, yet even so… no one hardly keeps their mouths shut there!

      I guess it’d be easy to argue a false equivalence, what with the way the editors select the contestants. But it’s interesting comparison all the same.

      Just thinking out loud, don’t mind me.

      Reply
      • Sick

        Survivor is entirely scripted, so yeah, false fucking equivalence. Also I came here to see other people discuss the ending of the film and instead I get a religiously bias article riddled with grammatical mistakes and touting half-assed philosophy terminology. The fact this pops up so high on Google says a lot about our braindead, pretentious society.

      • Taylor Holmes

        I think your incredible vehemence and hostility on such an inane topic as a movie review is more indicative of our current state of affairs than my grammatical inabilities. But regardless, Ad Hominem much?

        But to my original point, Survivor isn’t scripted at all. It’s edited tightly. Sure. But my point was more about how contestants on that show say incredible things about who deserves the million. That’s Mike Ditka, he’s rich he doesn’t deserve it. She’s lazy, she doesn’t deserve it. Survivor is 100% on topic from a voting perspective. They say anything and everything to stay alive come vote time. I think that was my only point by bringing up Survivor.

  12. Barrabas

    I only see one problem with the pregnant women (winners?) at the end. If at the end of the game, Eric was put in a tie with the fetus, Eric votes the fetus, the fetus can’t vote, so Eric wins. If the pregnant woman was the final person standing, she would be in a tie with her fetus, she cannot vote her own circle, the fetus cannot vote, both would die and there would be no winner. Which begs the question: If everyone acted “morally” to attempt to save two lives by saving the pregnant woman of the group, would the game end with no winner? This would make all their acts of morality account for nothing in the end except for dying with a clear conscience. All in all I found it an interesting movie (then again I’m a huge fan of Cube).

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Great point Barrabas… (awesome Biblical reference there),
      Totally get what you are saying. So, leaping from that point you are making. How the HECK did those pregnant women win?! Or were they just random passers by standing and watching some people get dropped out of the sky??! So confused now. Thanks for that! hahaha.

      Taylor

      Reply
      • Woz

        A further question on the pregnant woman to the fore on the final scene at the aqueduct. She is stood with 2 young girls , and holding hands with the girl to her left. That girl is leaning in to the pregnant woman , as a young daughter would to her mother in that situation for comfort. The inference is at least one of the girls is the pregnant woman’s daughter. If this is the case, how did the pregnant woman and her young daughter both survive their circle, assuming they were in the same circle ? (the chances of them both surviving separate circles are very remote). Possibly they are strangers and the pregnant woman is just being nice to the young girl, but they do seem to be mother/daughter from how they are stood. Great film review by the way.

    • Josh

      I think ultimately the baby thing was just not all that well thought out and was really used as more of a “but wait!” moment by the writers there at the end or because they wanted to make another conversational point in the movie to discuss how the idea of when life begins is another hotly debated thing that separates people. One of the other folks commenting pointed out that they could not choose their own circle, so there would have been no way for the mom to have chosen either herself or the baby at the end. Clearly at the end, there were some pregnant women who “survived” so it was evidently possible. I believe the odd mix of people at the end with adults, children, and two pregnant women standing outside of a canal is evidence enough to conclude that those people were indeed other “survivors.” Maybe the aliens just considered the mom and baby as an acceptable stalemate. For the folks who thought that maybe that meant that all of the pregnant ladies sacrificed their own fetuses, there really was no way for them to have done that since they couldn’t vote for their own circle, and no one else could have legitimately voted between either her or her fetus either since they were in the same circle. We saw that voting for the circle “killed” the mom before the fetus, so besides the aliens just calling it a legitimate stalemate, there really is no other way I see that makes sense. Also, the fetus, which was evidently considered alive by the aliens, should have been zapped dead already anyway since it had moved outside of its circle. One of the other folks commenting threw out the idea that maybe it was because it had fallen into another circle when the mother fell, which is why it was still there, but that does not really jive with the other folks who were essentially instantaneously zapped as soon as they left their circles. I lean toward the writers wanting to make a commentary about it and/or using it for the dramatic “but wait” moment but not having thought it through all that well.

      Reply
  13. Adam

    I thought that the guy who won at the end was trying to off more people. It seemed like he played previously which is how he knew the rules and he instilled the idea early on of leaving the kid and the pregnant lady to be the last ones. He then convinced the kid to off herself and voted for the pregnant lady to get a double kill, which left the unborn child and himself left so he voted for the pre-kid and left. In the final scene he went to find another group of people to play; that last group clearly hadn’t played yet because they were staring up at the UFO’s as well and the last group had at least one child and one pregnant lady. He would get sucked up with them and do the same thing thereby racking up his death toll.

    That’s what I thought the last scene meant at least.

    Reply
  14. Ronnie

    Oh snap I had a totally different view, the ending made me think that the aliens had sent search parties to help to collect humans. To do this they would have to disguise as humans but would have the chance of dying. Being manipulative beings they are able to win games quite easy, the disguised alien in this case…Eric.
    How would have Eric figured a lot of what he did so quick, I think that is why they showed all of that information at the end voiced by Eric (hippie blond guy kinda gave me an alien vibe too). The last scene would also show him finding some humans they missed, he seems to know exactly where to head, not taking much time in thinking just getting up looking around for a bit and walking till he finds people. They can’t abduct everyone as some people would be hiding. The reason for these abductions could be depopulation or just extermination in general.
    This reminded me a lot of the game “town of salem” judged by your peers till one or a few win, which made me think to Eric being given his mission beforehand.
    I donno man I could just be an idiot as right now everyone is going super deep into this and I’m thinking up shit that would be in a cheesy comic or game.

    Reply
  15. ch3o

    I have an alternative hypothesis.
    It may be that the survivor had already survived other circles.
    Early in the movie one of those who died immediately tries to warn them of something. Some within the circle know each other. They could have survived to other circles and then be more skilled on the “mechanism”. yes this movie is very disturbing.

    Reply
  16. Yuri Zavorotny

    My view is that while there is no God, we should stay benevolent because otherwise we will quickly decent into the world of “1984” or something like that. Not a happy place. The world filled with mistrust and fear. The world without love.

    And yes, if I had to live the rest of my life in a world like that, really I won’t care much if I live or die.

    Reply
  17. Benjamin

    There is a take on this movie that could be classified as theology.
    the story of revelations… and the battle in heaven over a pregnant mother… between God and Satan’s minions.
    imagine dying… and it was judgment time.
    and you were f acc ed with this situation.
    all the while… demons whispered in your ear, attempting to make you slay the mother and the child.
    w/o of you make the right choice and be rewarded by “heaven” or be selfish… and judged quickly, like the men and women who turned to racism and hate when “satan” aka the blonde hair dude with beard… and the old mr. Rogers guy whispered on their ears.
    crazy… but who knows.
    and when Eric “won” by making the wrong choice in the end… he was put back on earth with all the other “winners”
    Now I don’t necessarily believe all of this… but it’s just ONE of the theories I have of the meaning behind this movie.

    Reply
  18. Chris

    I am just thinking about the very end scene of this movie. If we go with the theory that these people are in fact survivors from their own “games”. Then we see 14 people not including the survivor from “our” game.

    There is a perfect shot with them all lined up looking up, about half are children or pregnant women. The other 7 individuals are 5 men and 2 women. There is another lady in the back who I cannot determine if she’s pregnant or not, she’s not shown clearly. None of these people are seemingly related to one another, despite how the scene looks. You have a pregnant lady holding hands with a young girl, who is not of her own nationality, and a man with glasses standing behind two young boys of different nationality. Its safe to assume that they are not the parents of these children. The pregnant woman could be comforting that girl, the man with glasses may simply just be standing behind the boys at that moment.

    Now if I go along with the main theory of this post, if the prime motive of this movie was to point out that we are all egoists and would do the selfish thing, then why so many kids and expecting mothers? It would seem more to indicate that perhaps we see both sides at the end. Perhaps the scale is a little toward the egoist side, especially with our own character joining the party at the end. But still about half of this sampling seems to indicate that both sides are equally still in play within our world.

    Who knows, but this movie was a great thinker, I enjoy a good movie that gets my brain going and this one really did it.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      I like the way you are thinking there Chris… like a scientific sampling with regards to the resultant data set. But the single problem I see is something you mentioned. It’s quite a leap to assume that those are all ‘winners’. They could just be random people watching the ships. But, I actually buy what you are selling. Seems to make the most sense that they are coming off the ships. And if that is the case, then each ship was a test-bed, incubator, and a data set of lab results. And it would seem that our ship is the most awful ship of them all! hahaha. I guess? Maybe? Makes sense to me anyway.

      Reply
  19. Josh

    I do not believe that egoism is the central theme of the movie. The mix of “survivors” at the end does not really pan that out. The movie touches on a lot of different ways people categorize each other. The interesting thing at the end was the group of “survivors.” I paused the movie at the 1:22:36 mark, and there are 7 men and 7 women. Four are children (2 boys/2 girls). Two women are pregnant. They are a mix of different races. All were on the younger side. Evidently the only thing the different groups agreed on was that older folks had lived long enough. I like the look of confusion that the “winner” of the circle we just witnessed had when he sees the diversity of the other groups. He thought he had the whole “game” figured out only to realize that maybe there was no game at all considering other rooms ultimately ended with different conclusions. I think the movie was really just a conversation about the almost unlimited variability in how we can all be categorized and make decisions, but the fact that there was no one common conclusion from any of the circles means that there is really no category or -ism that is really valid as a whole.

    Or… maybe it was just a way for aliens to thin the herd while evaluating humanities different quirks.

    Reply
  20. Keter997

    I think you missed a point trying to be made at the end here. You said that If all those people were survivors, and if the entire planet had just played the circle game, 150 million people would be left and be the most egotistical self centred portion of society. But this is not necessarily true. If there were no egotists, or they failed to get to the end/near the end to ‘win’ leaving only true benevolent people in the final 2-3 then they would sacrifice themselves without deception.

    The final group of ‘survivors’ looked very heavy on the sub sections of society most likely to be first protected, that being the pregnant women, the overabundance of children and then women with men coming in last, even in this day and age of equality, there is still a cultural prevalence for women and children first. This is not necessarily a wrong preference to have, in a wider survival of the species or recovery of a country after a devastation, your entire workforce and population can be replaced in a single generation if you protect your women first, its traditionally why women did not go to war, they were too valuable to a tribe/country/species depending on the meta level of devastating event were taking into consideration.

    There were very few men in that final group. So is there also a subtle statement there that if you are not part of a ‘protected group’ and are less valued by your perceived commentary or expend-ability, does it force you to be egotist and self centred in order to survive because the rest of society will dictate a different pecking order. Everyone should be equal in an equal society. But in our efforts for more equality have we become less equal or less valued as people if we cannot somehow attribute ourselves to a desired group. Where a desired group is now any group which does not belong to the group previously deemed to have privilege and power i .e the straight white male. This film could be brilliantly disturbing in that in a situation where you would think being in the biggest ‘bloc’ power group is actually the most lethal group to belong to in our current society. They killed the old people, minorities we still hold prejudice over, including perceived criminality. They killed the racist because that’s the most justifiable killing in the largest voting bloc. They killed the homophobe, the next justifiable killing of your own biggest power bloc. After there was no white majority, then no male majority, we had a division into those for or against apparent self sacrifice along cultural norms. Those openly against failed because the majorities ‘feelings’ caused them to vote for these ‘nasty’ people. Look at the banker who was the at the time loudest voice for dissent along standard cultural norms, yet the one thinking everyone should be ‘equal’ regardless of anything. He was immediately killed off. As a group when it comes down to it we reject equality each and every time. We prefer to make people unequal, and justify why because if thats pointed out, no matter what side your own, it becomes unsavory. And in fact, in this film ,THATS what got you killed if you survived intial prejudices related to old age and race. Speaking up for equality was a death sentence in this film because people just did not want to tear down their own self justification delusion’s

    In fact the only way to win, was to convince the group you belonged to the most protected group, with everyone unsure if a young child or pregnant women constituted the most protected. Or to lie about going along with protecting the people who could attribute themselves to the biggest protected group, if you yourself wanted to live and could not join any protected group. So the real message of this film is about self delusion and the justifications we use to support those delusions. As a vocal collective we might all say we want a fair equal society, but our actions would betray that time and time again.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Fair enough. I give you all of your (well thought out and insightful) points… but they all rest on a single unconfirmed assumption. All those people standing there were the winners. Right? Who’s to say those aren’t just people wondering what’s going on? I actually didn’t think they were winners when I first watched it. But arguments and persuasion here makes me think maybe it’s a 70% chance?

      But you’ve given me food for thought. Maybe the Trump presidency has brought out the pessimist in me?!? Hahahah.

      Reply
  21. Krystle

    Love all of the comments and the analysis, but I’m still stuck on the “why?” I realize that there’s not much room to answer this except the end, which leave a wonderful opportunity to let the mind wander. If the other rooms were the same, which there’s no guarantee they were, how did those other rooms decide? Did they figure out why it was happening? If all of these people were extracted, what purpose is it for.

    I appreciate the social aspect and the decision-making process, which I honestly would rather step off my own circle to save someone if possible. However, my big questions would revolve around determining if there was any common denominator or if there was a purpose that this person had to be ready to fulfill. Though, as an American, I take it that I might’ve missed the point?

    Reply
  22. Richie

    Each spaceship, a circle, hosted its own ‘game’. Each game had one survivor (interesting points made about pregnant survivors and whether their babies survive too or not) and these survivors are dumped back onto earth. But then that spaceship they’re all staring at – is it leaving, or is it coming for them? What if the survivors are all placed into a new Circle and this goes on and on until there’s only one ultimate survivor. Just a theory I thought the ending loosely opened up while watching it.

    My thought was that the survivors would be sucked into

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      HAHAHAHA….
      Sucked into… SUCKED INTO? Was Richie “Sucked into!??” come back to us Richie! Win the round buddy. You can do it! You’ve been training for this all your life man. The analysis, the discussions, the complicated banter! You are set! You got this. Come back to us man!

      Too perfect. Doubt Richie planned that, but man, I would upvote the heck out of that comment if he did. Dang.
      Taylor

      Reply
  23. Kylei

    I finished the movie 2 hours ago and immediately turned to Google for clarification. I have read every single comment on this thread and I have yet to make my own decision about what the ending means to me… which is driving me crazy!!! Even if my conclusion made no sense to anyone else, at least I would have closure.

    I feel like if the group at the end were all survivors (and if I were amongst them) I would react in horror at coming out and seeing the ships–not knowing if I would have to “play” again or not. None of the people seemed scarred from their experience… unless they had ironically won multiple times, making it a “here we go again” reaction??

    I am continuously coming up with conclusions for this movie. I have never in my 20 years seen a movie which leaves me questioning so much. Thank you for this thread! I will be checking in regularly to see if anyone comes up with something I can live with thinking the ending meant hahaha

    Reply
    • Jessica

      I also did the same thing! Lol. I finished the movie about an hour ago and instantly went to Google to find more meaning regarding the ending and whatnot. I hope their is a sequel, maybe their wont be though. I sort of love movies like this though because more movies seem to have a full ending so kind of cool to come across movies that dont fully show the full picture but leave enough to make you imagine and wonder and question what happens etc. Definitely a love hate with endings like that, but the movie was really interesting for sure!

      Reply
  24. helen

    I don’t think the last scene implies that only the most devious and selfish people survived, in the last scene there were actually two pregnant women(I went back and checked one of them might just be chubby) and four kids this implies that in some of the other circles people sacrificed themselves to protect the children and pregnant women of their groups.

    Reply
  25. Woz

    There’s also quite a strange coincidence with the final scene. The word Koder is graffitied on a wall in the background. This is the name of a London rap artist. His songs include 1. “In the dark” – how the film starts. 2. “Space shuttle business” – games take place on spaceships. 3. “Noah’s ark” – unrelated and varied local species collected together. 4. “Zone again” – repeating circles? 5. “Hard being yourself” – the woman who talked too much about herself, which caused people to vote for her. 6 . “Lift off” – the abductions, or spaceships leaving at end 7. “Vibrations” – the death ray/shock 8. “Hole in the sky” – the circle on the spaceship. . I’m sure I’m reading too much into this !!

    Reply
  26. De Advocate

    Hello all, new to this site. I have a similar disdain for the Hollywood Blockbuster and trend of recycling old films. However, this does not mean that indie films with high concepts are immune to the same failures. Does this movie succeed at getting the viewer to think critically about some lofty social and moral concepts? Yes. But I think the fact the concept of this movie stemming from the movie 12 Angry Men says more about it than anything. That movie addressed the same flaws in humanity and concepts as this movie. In basically one room. And I think that film succeeded marvelously. (one of my all time favs) It is very a relate-able concept due to our jury duty requirement in the USA. So this movie attempted to jack it up a notch and have 50 people, and aliens. I think less people would have made it more intimate and more powerful. Half the cast is gone just so there is a pretext for the rest to try and figure out the reason behind it. We as the viewer are never given any reason to care about the early victims. I don’t think the people outside (at the end of the film) relate to the rest of the movie. To me it feels tacked on as a pretense to some sort of twist that really wasn’t there. (We don’t know that the aliens picked up every human on earth either.) Sure we don’t know the ‘rules’ to the other games. But why would they be different? We know having a pregnant women survive the game breaks the established rules of the game we just spent the whole movie trying to figure out, unless the babies are now dead in the womb. They don’t show us an answer to that. It would have been much more powerful to have the woman’s baby be killed in the game with her still being alive. Much more to ponder there. So for me it was sloppy film making on that point. I see people trying to assume this movie is 100% flawless, and that means there has to be some logical thing that will tie it all together, some greater meaning or purpose. But this is still people making films. I am not here to pick apart the movie, only to posit that this movie has some flaws and no one answer is going to tie it up all neat and satisfying. Like the Rorschach test, what you see is more a reflection of yourself and your world view. Maybe that was the whole point.

    Reply
  27. Ryan McKean

    First of all, great film! The only reason I can think of for aliens doing it is population control. They wanted to reduce the population of earth based on survival of the fittest (in this case who had the ability to bullshit their way to the end). I agree that the film showcases all standpoints of morality but the thing that really interested me was the ending. In the aquaduct when we see all the survivors (of other games) we see a pregnant woman, a hispanic man etc. I wonder if the aliens evenly distributed these people into the games. Each game has a pregnant woman, or each game has a child etc. If this is the case then it is interesting to see that a pregnant woman survived one of the games. Meaning not every game (group of 50) had the same outcome.

    Reply
  28. Ari

    Thank you, I enjoyed this. More than Belko, less than Exam. Every round was very suspenseful, no matter where the moral compass went. To me it didn’t matter who they picked in the end, but it matters how they got to the end. The movie shows the American version of the dilemma. It would be interesting to see different Circles all over the world.

    To me endings have a very important impact on my overall judgment. Form and message should go hand in hand. This ending is very brave. In an era where twists are the norm, the ending was straightforward (in my mind at least). The survivor survived.

    Other Circles would have different journeys, but they would all be dealing with the same questions. BUT AGAIN! My frantic mind races with all the possibilities, what if it was a circle of 50 pregnant women? 50 kids? 50 gay men? 50 prisoners? and so forth… and all the different permutations. 1 out of 50 is the world’s 2%. Right now less than 1% are in fact deciding on how the rest of the world lives, or dies. They and their ancestors put and kept them there.

    I love the metaphor and the microcosm this movie has shown. And, I marvel at the Thinc-ing community you have nurtured here. 🙂

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Thanks for the response Ari…
      My mind raced to the possibilities of a sequel with International Circles happening. Kinda like the ending of Belko? We see other places with other experiments happening? It’d be clever to flip between them and watch as they go different directions. I think Cube 2 sort of did this? No, but there were others of different nationalities? That was an interesting movie that the community recommended after my falling in love with these wild movies.

      Regardless, I too loved the metaphor of the movie and the dialogue it created. Fun movie. You’d think that the idea would never make it past 20 minutes. But it does and more! Anyway, thanks for coming out and finding us here. Make sure you swing back through regularly and let me know if you see any movies worth watching!

      Taylor

      Reply
    • GODJOEY

      It was a profiling system to discard the absolute worst of us before the relocation of the sleepers.

      Reply
  29. De Advocate

    It is somewhat unsettling (maybe more realistic though) that the guy who won killed a little girl and a pregnant mother and her child.
    Taylor, I would love to hear your thoughts on how God plays into this. Does he go to hell if he lets them live because that is suicide for him. Or does he go to hell because he essentially murdered them. Personally I feel if he chose to die, he would be fine as it would be to let the others live (golden ticket to the Pearly Gates) I don’t think this would count as suicide, at least not to me.
    As it stands, he lived. So he is either a psychopath and has no remorse. Bleak.
    Or the full reality will hit him later that he killed 49 people more or less. Massive survivor’s guilt. Maybe he commits suicide anyway. Bleak.
    And then we have aliens who play messed up games for who knows why. Bleak.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Funny question De…
      But heck, I’ll play along. Let me see if I can explain fully. After reading through the Bible several times end to end, and slowly getting a feel for the love that God has for us both in the Old Testament, and also in the New (yes, you heard that correctly) I think my answer might surprise you.

      Let’s play three eventualities out in our minds. All between you and me. I am assuming in this thought exercise that you and I both are Christians. And by that I mean, you believe that Jesus is God come in flesh, who died for your sins, and through which you have been given grace.

      1. I don’t respond to one of your comments on my blog (this is a real one, because I can’t keep up with you!) and you hate me for it.
      2. I hear you hate me for not commenting, and I come to your house and kill you.
      3. I hear you hate me for not commenting and instead of killing you, I commit suicide.

      So, I’ve upped the ante a little bit here. Who goes to hell? You, in option 1? Me in option 2? Or me in option 3? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? I don’t believe any of these options sends us to hell. But, if you were to do it again, and neither of us believing that Christ is God… 1, 2, and 3, sends us to hell. The key here being, that we have not received his grace for all of the sin we have done in our lives. Which includes petty hate thoughts. Yes?

      Does that make sense?
      Taylor

      Reply
  30. De advocate

    Your example makes sense. Unfair to ask you to pull it out of the movie in hindsight, but thanks for indulging me. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies with bleak endings. You just have to give me a great story and solid character development be they good or evil. I had none here. That is why for me this wasn’t a movie, just a filmed thought experiment in which the director determined the outcome for me.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Fair enough. But just as a Philosophy 101 discussion starter this is an awesome movie. You are right though. I too need characters to drive the plot. And that didn’t happen here.

      Reply
  31. Jessica

    This movie was insanely interesting and unique to me, very different from any movie ive seen. In the situation I believe i would have done a possibility of a few things…one is try to convince others not to vote period because if everyone is going to die why do we have to go out killing or deciding who lives longer or dies sooner based on past sins or anything else. Another is to vote for the older people first, sounds horrible but I kind of agree with the guy at the beginning regarding the older going first, Id hope when I’m old if in a situation I would sacrifice my life for younger lives. Another that i would do which goes against what most probably think is if i of had to choose between the pregnant woman and the child I would choose the child. Why? Well my thought process is that even though the pregnant woman is technically two lives because of the baby in her(which we now know of standing alone to live she wouldve had to choose her unborn baby) but we have no clue if her pregnancy will turn out okay, what if it doesn’t, so my thought is the child is alive and very very young and id want her to get a chance to live. As a mom myself in any situation my first is to protect child/children so I know in that situation id want to protect the living child i see vs one that is unborn, which is odd because I value lives of unborn babies as well of course so its kind of hard to explain in words on here but i would have tried to make sure the child lived. What was a twist was the one that lived who manipulated so he could live, i didn’t see that coming. I also wondered during the movie if the last one would live or if the aliens would do something to them. I hope based on the ending their will be a sequel to further the story. It schocked me people wanted to vote for the child or pregnant woman at all and at that they were trying to do it fairly early on. Definitely one of the most interesting movies ive seen in my opinion, it had my attention the whole time which isnt easy for me in regards to movies/tv etc.

    Reply
  32. FuZzy Style

    “some of the worst, most egotistical people ever”
    I don’t agree there are a lot of kids, and young woman (probably all pregnant, though not visibly), so the majority of games were won because of the sacrifice of the other players.

    Reply
  33. Anit Bagga

    I think what you said at the end about only the most egoistic people being left on the planet is really intriguing. Makes me wonder if it’s similar to winning the sperm race you know so everybody alive on earth right now has selfishly defeated all the sperms to be here which means every human really is evil, if that makes any sense lol?

    Reply
  34. KCinSD

    My theory is it’s an alien casino, like a roulette table, even kind of looks like one. The aliens are behind a screen placing bets.

    Reply
  35. Displeased professor

    You impressively managed to enumerate all of the standard philosophy tropes of fundemental misunderstanding . Seeing as I specialize in Continental philosophy , your readings of Nietzsche are so off that you essentially managed to reach the exact opppsite conclusion of his philosophical project . Nietzsche was NOT a nihilist , he did NOT say that we should be nihilists , instead maintained that as the moral edifice of society shifted away from a catholic framework to one that was not based on divinity , this state of suspended gnosis would leave people feeling nihilistic. His ENTIRE body of work is focused on rebuilding society away from both the hegemonic religious model of morality and the nihilistic version of morality . Nietzsche encouraged assigning your own values to your life and emancipation from apathy and platonisicm / religious / kantian transcendentalism. And calling Heidegger a nihilist is just laughable. Not only did Heidgger ( like Nietzsche ) argue that nihilism was dangerous he wrote extensively about technology being the apparatus of nihilism for his concept of “being.” I could keep going but I think you get the point.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Fair, I got your point. All of your points. But I personally believe he failed in all of those attempts post his definition of the void. He did such an amazing job tearing down, but lacked conviction or even logic in his building up. At the end of the day I believe that Nietzsche seemed to be a happy tree hugger. There is nothing – so seize the day. Which may make sense to you. Which, is fair. But not to me. And I have heard this argument time and again, and I know that that is his philosophical goal, but didn’t buy it when I was reading it. So, yes, you are right… I am wrong. So yes, I have come to his philosophy with my own optics and jaundices. Thanks for pointing them out. The class is all the wiser for it. I am not a professor. So I will yield to your perspective and reference your comment in this thread from now on.

      Reply
    • Kemo

      Because Nietzsche was a ponderer of nihilism and morality, it is easy to understand why a person who believes in a god might misinterpret while reading his aphorisms.

      I don’t know the person’s name in which to give credit but their words read some time ago stuck: “Live a lot, question yourself a lot, make mistakes, reflect on them and then read Nietzsche.”

      Reply
      • Taylor Holmes

        That is true Kemo. I do believe in God, and therefore the rest of his attempts to reassemble purpose after tearing it down ring false to me. But maybe it makes sense to you? Fair enough. I get it. I just don’t get it. But I do enjoy Nietzsche very much. If there was no God, he’s who I’d tied my hopes to.

  36. Tom

    Nice Summary and I agree with all of your points………. One thing bothered me though. There is a round close to the beginning where everyone votes to their right and the system notes a tie between all the competitors and kills one at random. How is this possible if the old guy who never spoke also never voted? Surely everyone would tie (and have a light on them) except the person standing to his right who wouldn’t have received any votes as he didn’t vote for them.

    As previously stated I think the end shows that lots of ‘games’ were positive where the people successfully sacrificed themselves for the child or Pregnant woman (which this would have been if not for Erics final selfish betrayal) I do wonder though if this was real how long they would survive after this. In a purely Darwinian way the strongest, not weakest, should have been chosen

    Reply
  37. Dom

    Wjust watched this movie… Not really sure about the ending…what if this wasn’t Erics first playthrough… Notice the group of people at the end? Mostly kids and pregnant women. And I think the ship at the end was just about to grab those people for the next round. Maybe Eric had the idea, that his greatest survival chances were if he played against kids and pregnant women? Noticed that he looked a tad to long at the pregnant woman in front of him. The only thing that doesn’t add up was his surprise that he had to play against the unborn child in the end…what do you think?

    Reply
  38. Rodolfo

    Hey first of all, thanks for the explanation.
    I wanna add something ,that for my personal opinion, its really bad done in most of the human culture and in our way to conceive the world and reality.
    I am talking about anthropocentrism.
    I liked the movie, but there was something that was always bodering me, we always think about other living beings to be exactly like us, not in shape but in their way to think and interact. We presupose that they experiment (science), that they believe in moral (religion), and that they wanna teach us something.
    Im being kind of a killjoy but i think that we won`t be ever able as occidentals to understand other forms of living, they maybe understand or learn things in other form of intelligence, maybe not reason and maybe not feelings.
    What do you think?
    Sorry for my engligh, am not native.
    Greetings from Chile

    Reply
    • Kemo

      Rodolfo, I was waiting for you haha! I please ask you to read “What Is It Like to Be a Bat” by Thomas Nagel.

      http://organizations.utep.edu/Portals/1475/nagel_bat.pdf

      You are so in line for Nagel’s philosophy of mind and ethics.

      Hopefully, Thomas Nagel’s “Bat” paper is easy to find translated in your language. You express a raised consciousness about things Thomas Nagel expresses so well and in-depth.

      It would do many people good to know and read the Thomas Nagel link given. How strange and welcomed a movie could lead to such a pathway of ponderance!

      Reply
  39. Kyle Sexton

    I just wayched this movie and initially i thought the same thing. I would just step off because theres no way im going to choose between a kid and a pregnant chick, let alone a 16 year old or a guy in the military. But as i thought i womdered if i should play the game to the best of my abilites for two reasons. One) i know ill do the right thing at tge end and two) I don’t trust most of the people in that show. I wish I couldn’t call every single twist, but I’m pretty good at reading people in real life so a movie is a cake walk and I’m hardly impressed. The ending was clearly winners as there are only roughly 15 outsole and mostly children and a couple pregnant ladies. Eve the guys tat win represented the bearded guy and a hole kid that won. With the information I provided would you still do the same thing?

    Reply
  40. Malachi

    If you notice all the people at the end standing in the aqueduct are pregnant women or children so I believe that the UFO things would have people of all ethnic groups and beliefs and actually did the exact same thing but all the other groups decided to keep either the child alive or the pregnant lady and they are the ones who survived as that was the final decision because I believe it was a test to see who would put their own selfish life over someone else because of race or belief or religion not saying I wouldn’t I dont know but that is what is really happening but the group we saw in the movie were all everyone to their own and want to live so kill someone else off for them and I the end Eric lived and he’s now with a group of pregnant or children

    Reply
  41. Daniel

    Considering the rules up until the end, why would the people be the survivors?

    We make this assumption from seeing “Eric” at the end of the movie regrouping with another set of individuals. There is a pregnant woman among these “survivors”. The circle confirms the assumption that unborn children count as a life (or a player) when Eric ties with the unborn child. If that is the case and a pregnant woman is left as the final player, wouldn’t this scenario result in a tie between the unborn child and the pregnant woman?

    “Rule #5 – In the case of a tie – crazy stuff happens. But generally speaking, if the voters don’t intervene, both will die.”

    Perhaps it’s a cyclical process to find the ultimate survivor and the movie shows us one of many rounds. Unanswered questions that make me wonder about this: (1) Why did the guy who woke up first know about some of the rules (e.g., stepping off and touching are bad); (2) Why would Eric move comfortably towards the UFO after surviving the first round?

    Reply
  42. Larry

    I thought the movie was dumb.

    Thoughtful reviews. Most of you really like stuff like this. I kept watching hoping for some form of a moral victory. Guess I am not a good nihilist.

    I applaud the people in the movie who stepped off the red circle for others.

    Reply
  43. AlexM

    I just watched the movie. My initial theory was some kind of “Aliens save our planet by reducing the human population”. I got that idea because of the seemingly insignificant fact that the people said they were abducted while being stuck in a traffic jam… <- like an example of pollution produced by the human race 😀 I know…it is a bit far fetched 😉 I wished I found any other hints pointing at that theory, but I did not 😛

    Reply
  44. Daf

    I really enjoyed reading your breakdown of the movie and philosophies, but I disagree with your conclusion. I think you will too.

    You concluded that the movie maker’s verdict was that we are egoists. I agree that the onlookers at the end were probably survivors. Are these survivors any less random than the contestants?

    Yes. 4/15 are children, 8:7 are male vs female, 1 is pregnant. None are elderly, none are disabled.

    My conclusion is that the sick, elderly and weak are killed off during the initial panic and self-preservation stages. Perhaps some survive to later rounds but ultimately lose to the benevolent vote, or are executed by the egoists. Ultimately there are three types of survivors: the egoists, best attuned to playing the game, intelligent, manipulative and ruthless; the soft targets, surviving from pity/benevolence; the survivors, who made it to the end by staying anonymous, getting lucky, avoiding a war.

    I believe in 1/3 of our groups benevolence won out. As for the other 2/3, we can’t be sure if it was the egoists or survivors. What we have learned, however, is if you want to survive the alien apocalypse, be young, be able-bodied, be non-threatening, and wear black pants or jeans.

    Reply
  45. Shaun

    The pregnant woman would have lived if she had heeded to the earlier warning and didn’t trust anyone. Her failure to vote is akin to lowering her gun in a Mexican standoff, with one shooter being influenced to killing themselves ie the little girl.

    It wasn’t just the philosophy that enabled him to win. It was the pregnant woman’s failure to understand the situation logically. If she did, everyone should have died, or she should have survived as was intended.

    Reply
  46. Grace

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    As for me, the man who didn’t vote and didn’t say anything is the only morally correct character in the movie. Although Shaun (emo 16 year-old boy) was brave enough to volunteer, what he did was still wrong because he decided to end his life. Which is contradictory to the belief that “Only God has the right to take life”.

    Reply
  47. Smalldux

    The guy who didn’t vote should have won at the point where they all voted for themselves. It would have been a TIE for everyone but him, with one vote each. The man got NO votes. If no-one changed their vote, they would all have died except for that one man who didn’t vote.

    Reply
    • Tristan

      They found out you can’t vote for yourself but now that I think of it that leaves an explanation needed for when they all vote for the person to the right because the person to the right of him would be safe. Nevermind, thinking again, someone got 2 votes the first time they did that meaning one person with 0 votes wouldn’t make a difference and the second time they tried it was a tie because the one guy was voting for the pregnant lady and the other guy stopped him so it all checks out from what I remember.

      Reply
  48. Ro

    Great article. I love this movie for the same reasons you do. I must disagree with your conclusion, however.
    If you look at the group of survivors at the end, there are a couple of pregnant women, several children, and a few men. It is a stretch to believe that the pregnant women and children survived because they were “some of the worst, most egotistical people ever.” More likely, is that their circles ensured their survival because they were valued. Yes, Eric and a few other clever egoists probably survive as well.
    I interpret the ending as follows: the aliens intent is to cull the human population while keeping the most valued individuals, thus selecting for a better human race moving forward. These aliens would be meddlesome, but benevolent. Most would say the biblical God is as well.

    Reply
  49. Brandon

    Maybe I wasn’t seeing clearly , but I was thinking more like Eric figured out how to cheat the system , and found his way over to a group with a pregnant woman , because they may likely beam him back up again ?

    Reply
  50. Mr

    If the pregnant lady had been the last one on the circle, it would have been a tie between her and her baby, so both dead eventually.

    Reply
  51. Agope Love

    The aliens dont have right to kill humans. Doesnt matter reason. The biggest maniacs egoists what ever you call it were them. I would recommend to jump all of the 50 out of the circle , laughing. And let them LIVE with that. That could be a good lesson for those real asshole aliens. The more you live does not make you more wise. You just learn there are much to learn than you know. But as i see aliens didnt know that.

    Reply

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