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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123 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.

      • Ian Franks

        Loved the simplicity of the film which invokes a truly complex train of thought.
        The way I see it the only truly selfless people were the ones who decided to take their own lives. Any of the survivors had to have done so by being selfish enough to stand by and let others die in order to save themselves. A beautiful in sight to the human mind set. The irony as I see it is that if the human race was not so selfish and we were less selfish we would have evolved further than we have by cooperating and maybe we would be the ones experimenting on the aliens . Instead the aliens have successfully set us up to wipe out the best of our species leaving only people that will continue to work against one and other ensuring that the human race remains retarded in its ability to become a threat to the aliens themselves.

    • 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
    • Sherman Jepherd

      So glad you were able to count people at the end as these numbers seem central to the film’s message.

      Towards the end of the game they get talking about majority’s, e.g., “There are 9, we only need 5 to win. Who’s on our side?” Based on your numbers there are 7 pregnant women and children and 7 adults. Assuming all the adults are in the “bad” side, there is a 50/50, no majority, group of people (not getting into the argument whether those who didn’t let the children survive are “bad,” though the writers made it pretty clear what they thought as all those advocating against the child were portrayed as first-class assholes. I don’t recall a single comment that letting the child survive would decrease the chance for survival of the human race; their central argument was “Do YOU (not the race) want to live?”).

      When Eric arrives it becomes 8 to 7, and “bad” prevails. Maybe before the next “winner” arrives this “bad” majority takes the opportunity to kill/enslave/whatever action is necessary for the “bad” side to continue to survive.

      This leads again back to a central theme: humans are generally “Me” vs. “You,” “Us” vs.”Them,” and in that dynamic the human race will eventually die out by killing each other for self-interest. The circle, both in the ship and back on Earth, if “Us” vs “Them” mentality is the majority, will always get smaller. Played out to its mathematical conclusion, until there are only 2 humans left, and then its time to vote one off the island!

      The filmmakers would have shown they believed “Us” vs. “Them” is not a bad thing for humanity if the Earth group had a majority of pregnant women and children.

      Also interesting that the writers depicted the vast-majority of women on the ship as (i) more selfless (were there any female assholes?), (ii) caregivers for humanity (mothers, e.g., mother of Emily), future mothers, survivors of sickness (cancer), etc. The men on the other hand were split between “bad” and selfless. I’m not personally arguing which is better for survival of the human race, but the film is. Where the caregivers, most of the women and some of the men, lose (the 8 to 7 conclusion), then the “Us” vs. “Them” mathematical conclusion guarantees the end of the human race.

      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
    • Diane

      Who said they were survivors? I rather think they a new experiment group. Otherwise why would Eric join them?

      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
    • JD

      I just watched this movie on Netflix and must say this is totally my kind of movie. I cannot give a long winded breakdown or wish to elaborate further on what I’ve read thus far as I’ve seen some really thought provoking theories. My take is this life is the circle controlled by aliens or the powers that be that have us in this rat race/process of elimination, we decide what sides we choose based on what matches our belief systems/ideals and I think above all Ego. I feel Eric was the master manipulator that had no care for anything other than survival and brought me to my elitest view of society, at the very top 1% control the mass based on our moral compass given by perception we have on what good and bad is which is swayed by our individual concepts of such things, is Eric bad or does he understand how our circle works, are the things that we hold on to preventing our existence therefore allowing for our exploitation and being used as pawns. To sum it up whilst everyone was bickering about why they should or shouldn’t live the most strategic was the one who didn’t talk giving you know chance to judge him and Eric the one who understood.

      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
  52. freestone wilson

    whew! I have come to now my own Definitive idea as to what the meaning of the Circle movie is! no one has seemingly caught this Meaning!

    the Rapture!

    …I have read that the director is a Christian.
    …his second movie SHACK seems to do with Redemption and forgiveness.

    thus even if his movie has a stated plot, by himself; his Christian background will color the movie. one must understand the background of a director in order to sense his meanings for his movies, I guess.

    too, I have just come from watching several rapture movies. the movie RAPTURE starring Nicolas Cage , is actually a “box” movie. maybe 20 passengers on a plane and suddenly several vanish into thin air. ooops. pandemonium breaks out.
    very well done. there are other rapture movies with similar scenes….

    a very radical twist here. as far as I know, no reviewer has caught this!!

    —the aliens are really angels in the service of God. the alien ship seen at the end of the movie might be the “wheel of Ezekiel” seen in the old testament. .
    similar to the movie KNOWING. another rapture movie, aliens as angels..

    the people in the circle are killed by the lightning from god and they will ascend to go to the *new* heaven, that has been prepared for them. even if one of the people has a bias or personal problems, they are somehow Redeemed. finally the last man is standing. a self centered psychopath. he wins!

    oh dear. manipulation and survival is his Name.

    he then finds…..[spoiler alert]….that he is now out in the open air and he sees other people walking about. women pregnant and children too.
    the other winners.
    winners?!
    no!!

    losers!

    —for these people, one out of 50, 2 out of 100, are the winners of the world wide tests. I would say that each test is exactly the same. they think they have won but in reality they have lost the game!

    these winners are the “left behind”, that La Hay and other Christian writers write of, those who are left on earth after the rapture. at first nothing is much different.
    a city of, say, 100,000 now has 2,000 survivors. of course many are children and even babies in womb.
    [babies in womb Count! this is why Christians are so so against the idea of abortion! a soul has incarnated months before birth!]
    old people, handicapped people, wander the streets.

    —civilization does not run by itself! ever see a movie showing the control area of a power plant?! a zillion dials, buttons, levers! can *you* operate this Thing?! no!
    very soon, no more oil is pumped, refined, trucked. the electric and water goes off.
    maybe the only people left with power and fuel might be the missile launch silos for the nuclear missiles and soon, very very soon, they might be fired.
    ever see the movie THREADS or the DAY AFTER? the nuclear war and the aftermath. within a 100 years, civilization would look like the ending of the movie THREADS! metal rusts, no one left to know how to make steel or even iron.
    back to maybe 1200 A D. and the 2,000 survivors of this city might now only see 200. a bleak future. eventually there will be civilization and it probably will look nothing like of ours today!

    so the killed people are really the winners! in spite of their faults. perhaps the message might be that the real “sin” here, the sin that is unforgivable, is a self centered serving soul. He or She Gets Things Done all right, but crushing over the lives of others much like of a tank crushing anything in its way as it moves. these people tend to win. winning at the expense of others. and no symbiotic helping these others either.
    —for we all have sinned and have come short of the glory that is God, he sends his Son so that most sins can be forgiven. and 49 people with sins are forgiven! some of these sins sound truly awful, racist, hatred of other ways of life, but even these sins can be forgiven! but there is one that can never be forgiven, the Denial of God;
    a blasphemy indeed.
    a true psychopath denies the existence of God from the git-go, from square one, as he is the ultimate self serving person and there is nothing higher then him!
    so he won this game.

    freestone

    Reply
  53. Agu

    Hi! First of all excuse my english.
    Great analysis and some greats comments to.
    I wanna add something:
    When they decided to kill all the old people, the last of them said that he was in the red room with Eric, but Eric kind of say no. Of course, no one believed in his story after that and then they kill him.
    I think that knowing that Eric was a “liar” after all, we can assume that the last old man was telling the true (or at least we can make another theory 🙂
    He said “Numbers, i remember numbers” before he dies. Immediately after that the movie shows the face of Eric, like he was relief.
    I think the old man had the key, or a clue, of how all can leave the circle without dying.
    I think the killing of the old people first is a metaphor of how we as society dont see the ancients with respect, and the consequences of that.
    What do you think??

    Reply
  54. Swampgorilla

    Think you got the ending wrong …

    If you look … there’s more than one pregnant woman, and is also at least one child. This means that, you’re correct, the “game” was played by everyone on the planet, and in many of the games the participants chose to pick in the same manner as the participants we witnessed play the game. Only – in many cases, the pregnant woman and the kid DID win out. This means your theory that the people left behind are all horrible people – they’re not.

    Additionally, this was all about “culling” the human population to the numbers on the planet that existed roughly around the time of Christ.

    Reply
  55. Ani

    Okay help me out here… At the end of the movie, the pregnant woman.. Since she were 2 people did she choose to kill her unborn child to survive?? Like Eric did to the fetus???

    Reply
  56. Daniel

    I have to respond to a few points of yours. The overall analysis was great but I have to strongly disagree on your personal look and the ending.

    First of all, you and your friend aren’t two sides of the extreme, you actually share a category that differs from the “middle” classmates.

    You both are instrumentalists. You do good because god exists, he doesn’t because he doesn’t. Both your actions are determined by goals, while the rest don’t believe in god yet still do good. There are many different explanations but I’d say the most general one is that they (and me) do good for the sake of good itself.

    You said you’d do what the emo and silent man did because you believe in god, but if I magically proved god doesn’t exist, would you just become an Eric?

    I may have misunderstood but your approach actually is egoism in its finest just like your friend. The only difference between you two is the basic assumption of gods existance.

    Would you become a terrible sadist if I proved that the true god encourages that?

    Im gonna give you a little background on me so you know where I stand. As for me, I’m actually doing my masters in philosophy and like you, I’m practically the only theist in the department lol. But I think that you hold the assumption that what is good is good because god chose it, while I hold the assumption god chose what is good because it’s good. Stereotyping emos, I think it’s also fair to assume the emo didn’t believe in god either.

    A nihilist doesn’t mevesarily have to be egoistic. You can believe that there’s no meaning to anything and reach such a deep understanding that even simple joys of life mean nothing to you, and yet choose to do good in order to make others happy. At least there’s some illusory meaning for the blind ones who aren’t nihilist right?

    As for the ending, I don’t think the survivors are necessarily awful people. I mean, first of all, I can’t call eric evil cause he did what he did to survive. Selfish? Definitely. But there are many ways for a good person to be the survivor. A pregnant woman could really just want the well being of her baby, a survivor might have been in a game where everybody just let it go random, a kid survivor is just a kid and shouldn’t be judged either. Eric was a genius mastermind, and I think more good people than masterminds on his level exist, not to mention the luck factor. Eric didn’t have complete control over the other players others, and in the end, the fiel freezing would have been a 1/3 chance. The woman being suspcisios and voting him just in case would also be bad.

    Thanks for the analysis. It was very interesting to read. If you respond than I’m more than happy to continue talking about this. I’m doing philosophy so this is practically the most productive thing I can do haha.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Ok. First Daniel, this is catnip to me. I think I like you very much.

      So please understand that while yes, I am a Christian, to discuss and debate theology or my own personal beliefs is very different than discussing the movie Circle. In talking with non-Christians it is difficult to explain from the ground up the prime moving factors in what makes me believe the things I believe and makes me act the way I do, or what I would really do if I did not believe. Truly. But let me come at this movie from that angle. Let me try again.

      Truth. Morality. Good and Evil. I believe in very firmly in these things. But the reason I believe in these things is because I believe in God. I believe that God has created logic and a measuring line that directs all things from this moral plumb line. Beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder… beauty is a knowable truth. Greeks and their ideals of balance and form. Etc. Sure, fads, and nuance. But you and I stand on a shore and watch a sunset? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then you and I cannot share that beauty together. Daniel! That was beautiful because of the Oranges and the Pinks… or something! And you’d be like, no its the white I think! We’d be talking past each other if there was no standard of beauty. But because there is a standard, we don’t even have to say anything – we can just stand there and soak in the OBVIOUS beauty that was infolding right before us… while simultaneously sharing it. Right? It just is beautiful.

      So in my vantage of reality I believe that there is a loving God that provided a way for humans to become close to him again. Through his son’s death and resurrection. Ok? This is my baseline. Now, Daniel, if you and I were placed into a room and given the opportunity to kill the other in order to go free? That, in my mind would literally be evil. Bad. But you are right. What if I just choose to not play. What if I try to outsmart my captors? What if I choose to short circuit the experiment some how? That is the argument you make for the kid. Or for the mother. Right? Sure. To have played the game to save your life? Ok. But if it isn’t a game. And it is real life, then I would choose not to play.

      But you cannot argue your theism the other way round. If God does not exist, I choose good for good’s sake. There is no such thing sans God. Never mind the fact that there is nothing sans God. But I’ll give you evolution and Big Bang shenanigans I guess. What I take umbrage with is people believing in goodness and also believing in this accident. To argue that we should be good to each other because of the good of the whole? Eh? How do you get that from anything? Without God, I am BEGGING you to steal my wallet and slit my throat. It’s the only thing that makes sense logically! (Which, wouldn’t exist either without God, so that is a different conversation.)

      I’ve always wanted to try the game show Survivor. I have always wondered how I would play it. I have highly tuned social skills from years of growing up around people that say one thing and do another. And so I would do well at the social game, keeping an ear to the game play and to the political winds. But would I lie straight to your face in order to move on? Hrm. There is no such thing as a moral time out. This isn’t a thing. So no. I don’t think I would. But I would find ways to find daylight and consortium build etc. And that is the kind of gameplay you are saying is ok. Sure. Of course.

      Your point though is good about God… that no, I wouldn’t become a sadist if I believed he encourages that. God is good. He is light. And love. So I would try and act in accordance with His word, the Bible, and in accordance with that greater truth. Would I try and kill the guy running the Circle if given the opportunity. Yes. Not only that, but I would quickly and actively run towards a shooter if he walked into a church, or a school, or wherever. I would deliberately throw myself in harms way even if the odds were extraordinarily slim at success. I just would.

      But your points about the underlying truth of what is, and what isn’t, are interesting to me. Yes, God, the great architect of all things has set the world up on a balance and framework of truth and logic, beauty and balance. And because he has created all things perfectly there is a natural underlying framework upon which we can know anything. Sure, people would prefer to deny God. That is their choice. This makes me sad. But it is their choice. But it is not their choice to deny Truth with a capital T. It can’t be possible for them to deny beauty, or logic. It’s the framework upon which all things were built and created. Without it we would have zero ability to communicate a shared experience or know anything. So as such, I definitely would not play, or would do everything in my power to gum up the works. But no, I would not vote for someone else’s death. Could I accidentally win through not voting? I suppose. Would that make me evil… no. So you make good points.

      But it is because of this underlying reality that this conversation can even be conducted… which, I’m thankful for, because it’s fantastic. I totally love interacting with others in this way.

      Reply
      • Daniel

        I don’t think it matters if you’re Christian. We aren’t getting into specific verses or getting deep into the narrative.

        What you say in the next paragraph is very similar to what I meant. While the more modern philosophers mostly agree on this gap between our grasping of nature, I myself like you, lean more towards an objective beauty, truth, good etc.
        you should probably know this is all Plato talk (I’m pretty sure you were referring to aristo when you mentioned forms) but you see, even those two, while did talk about god had a very different god from the other Greeks or the abrahamic religion.

        Though I think you’re falling under your own argument here so tell me if you thought of this. You say god created those things (logic, truth and beauty) but that still doesn’t answer my base question. Are those things what they are because they are? Or are they what they are because god chose them? This is especially problematic when you say god created logic yet hold an objective view on it.

        If you put god above logic, then god must also be free from it, and in that case logic can’t be objective and the single truth, but only the most general rules of our thought. If you can’t let go of the view that beauty, truth and logic are objective and are what they because of what they are, then you can’t escape the claim that god is below them and is also limited by those rules.
        What you said about not turning into a sadist if god was evil because god isn’t evil isn’t an explanation, it’s a direct contradiction of my question, which in a way is fine, since god is supposed to be good and the question could be seen as nonsense and yet still. What made you a Christian? Probably the education you’ve gotten. It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to, any religion that has a narrative doesn’t have any logical objective way to prove itself. Our belief in complicated biblical stories and in many religious rules stems not from objectively looking at the world and understanding good values, but from where we happened to end up in and what we’ve been told.

        I’m not trying to offend, but it seems to me that “I choose good because of god, but if god doesn’t exist I’ll choose good because it’s good.” Is more you choosing good for the sake of good but not wanting to admit you feel that there’s an objective good that is independently good without god. I can’t blame you, I personally believe that doubt can only get you closer to god but I’ve been raised in a religious (not extremely but you probably know what I mean) environment and most of us theists have this uncomfortable feeling when we doubt or break an orthodox religious rule even if we personally don’t believe in that rule.

        I definitely like games like this. I’d play survivor only when it comes to the arguments and some missions (I’m lazy, i don’t wanna live on an island). I think I’d probably go pretty far. Philosophy gives us a lot of strategic open mindedness and even some speech skills, and I look and act very benevolent so it’d be easy to manipulate and gain popularity. But yes, the distinction between game and life is important. In circle, I would have probably tried to survive the longest I can, hoping some miracle can rescue me and all the people still alive. I want to say I wouldn’t vote but honestly, I couldn’t not vote in some cases. The rich guy was a terrible person from the very beginning and he survived way too long. I couldn’t treat everyone as equal and not vote at all (one moment that really bothered me is when the atheist was being a jerk and it tied between him and a random girl and she died). I couldn’t let some obviously bad people there live over others. I think when you have the power to vote or change or choose, not doing so isn’t also a decision and we bare responsibility over it. If the kid died and the rich man lived in a round, you can’t escape responsibility by not voting. The only way to escape responsibility in this game is if nobody votes. Hell, even sacrificing yourself can be seen as the easy way out, since alive, you could save someone who deserves it.

        I thought about suggesting “town of Salem” which is similar in a way but it’s not really the same and to be honest, the game lately is suffering from a bad community.

        Going back to god and logic. First of all, I understand this stems from your religion but I think you’re (and many others) are blind to the fact that belief isn’t a choice. In order to believe, you need to be convinced, whether by sensing or by logic. The countless religions and theories just show that there simply isn’t a way to reach any specific god as a conclusion objectively. So I find it a little petty to judge someone by belief (which is why the god I believe in couldn’t care less what you believe in and won’t send you to hell for that).

        As for the logic, I think your argument falls again. You claim that god is above logic but if you do that, you admit that you can’t explain god with just logic. If anything is above logic, especially god, you can’t hold the view that logic is the whole truth.

        Personally, I do believe god is above logic, and so all the paradoxes against him are useless and can’t be seen as proof. But this view doesn’t mean I deny logic on its own. I regard it as the rules of thought and the only way for us to think and communicate, so I use it while always knowing that logic is a necessary assumption, but nothing more.

        P.S, sorry if I seem bold or disrespectful. I throw politically correctness out the window when I philosophize. Plus, English isn’t my first language so it might effect the tones of my writing. I argue for the sake of truth, not personal feelings.

      • Taylor Holmes

        Think I’ll go through your comment point by point…

        I don’t think it matters if you’re Christian. We aren’t getting into specific verses or getting deep into the narrative.

        Fair enough.

        What you say in the next paragraph is very similar to what I meant. While the more modern philosophers mostly agree on this gap between our grasping of nature, I myself like you, lean more towards an objective beauty, truth, good etc. you should probably know this is all Plato talk (I’m pretty sure you were referring to aristo when you mentioned forms) but you see, even those two, while did talk about god had a very different god from the other Greeks or the abrahamic religion.

        Sure, definitely. I am painfully aware of the Greco and Roman influences of Christian thought. Read a number of books on this topic and understand the melding and influences/cross pollination. And yes, I’m aware of Plato’s influence here – his reality of the forms, the idea of the perfect circle, perfect form, whatever, ideated from above, and attempted at here below, etc etc. That this reality is a dim reflection of the more perfect reality of the gods. And sure, of course greek gods are 100% different from the God of Abrahamic tradition. (Totally get that.) But for this discussion, this idea of the perfect ideal from both traditions is interchangeable almost. (actually maybe not, now that I am working down through the details of your points, I’ll note the differences below.)

        Though I think you’re falling under your own argument here so tell me if you thought of this. You say god created those things (logic, truth and beauty) but that still doesn’t answer my base question. Are those things what they are because they are? Or are they what they are because god chose them? This is especially problematic when you say god created logic yet hold an objective view on it.

        If God is infinite, not a demi-god, or lesser created god from the Greek religions, then he created all things. It’s impossible for it to be any other way. Now, a counter argument could be that Logic and Beauty are just manifestations of God… and they always were and always will be. And that in any reality that he manifests (which is all of them because he is omnipresent) there too would be the precepts of logic and beauty. But I see where you are going with this.

        If you put god above logic, then god must also be free from it, and in that case logic can’t be objective and the single truth, but only the most general rules of our thought. If you can’t let go of the view that beauty, truth and logic are objective and are what they because of what they are, then you can’t escape the claim that god is below them and is also limited by those rules.

        Just the idea of an all powerful being means that he would be outside all things. Even logic. To say that God (upper case signifying his Jewish, or more importantly, all powerfulness) is subject to Logic, would then subjugate him to some thing and therefore, he wouldn’t be all powerful. Yes, I believe that an infinite God could operate outside of logic. Yes I believe that he can move outside of this idea of objective beauty if he so desired. Of course. Regularly I talk about God with mates, and they tell me that God makes no sense to them, but how powerful would a God be that always made sense to a finite being? hahah. His ways are higher after all! But I understand what you are attempting. But I disagree.

        What you said about not turning into a sadist if god was evil because god isn’t evil isn’t an explanation, it’s a direct contradiction of my question, which in a way is fine, since god is supposed to be good and the question could be seen as nonsense and yet still. What made you a Christian? Probably the education you’ve gotten. It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to, any religion that has a narrative doesn’t have any logical objective way to prove itself. Our belief in complicated biblical stories and in many religious rules stems not from objectively looking at the world and understanding good values, but from where we happened to end up in and what we’ve been told.

        Sure, I understand. I guess my logical response would be, yes, I would become a sadist. And yes, I would follow Him there. But, my answer was speaking to his understood absolute Goodness, and his lack of evil. That a perfect being is incapable of sin. And so yes, I logically leapt past the question and err’d in my response. My apology. But I do not believe a perfect God would, and so I wouldn’t follow him there, because he wouldn’t! hahaha.

        I’m not trying to offend, but it seems to me that “I choose good because of god, but if god doesn’t exist I’ll choose good because it’s good.” Is more you choosing good for the sake of good but not wanting to admit you feel that there’s an objective good that is independently good without god. I can’t blame you, I personally believe that doubt can only get you closer to god but I’ve been raised in a religious (not extremely but you probably know what I mean) environment and most of us theists have this uncomfortable feeling when we doubt or break an orthodox religious rule even if we personally don’t believe in that rule.

        Incorrect, I choose good because God has created it. I choose good because it is what He has asked of me. But if God did not exist, and therefore the concept of “good” doesn’t either (which, most atheists will agree isn’t a thing… they should anyway, if they think about it) then the rules of the road would be completely different. We, as a people would praise those that are able to lie and get away with it. We would praise those that were capable of cheating and getting away with it. We would herald as all but divine those that could steal without any societal repercussions or negative fall out. I mean, the animal kingdom works on similar principles. Do what you have to do to survive.

        I definitely like games like this. I’d play survivor only when it comes to the arguments and some missions (I’m lazy, i don’t wanna live on an island). I think I’d probably go pretty far. Philosophy gives us a lot of strategic open mindedness and even some speech skills, and I look and act very benevolent so it’d be easy to manipulate and gain popularity. But yes, the distinction between game and life is important. In circle, I would have probably tried to survive the longest I can, hoping some miracle can rescue me and all the people still alive. I want to say I wouldn’t vote but honestly, I couldn’t not vote in some cases. The rich guy was a terrible person from the very beginning and he survived way too long.

        Hahaha. Ok, so problem that you just hoisted on yourself, and the slippery slope you just started sliding down is that you have just become judge and executioner. Are you capable of judging? Do you really think you know the hearts and intents of people around you? Even if you are given information about his “jerkiness” does that mean you have a right to stand and extend his death sentence? Nope. And the reason here is simple… have you lied before? Sure, you have. Have you sinned before? Sure you have. Then what makes your imperfection any better than his imperfection? From an objective standpoint any sin at all is infinite in its imperfection, in that that is what separates us from God. A perfect being cannot cavort with an imperfect being, regardless of how enormous their imperfection.

        I couldn’t treat everyone as equal and not vote at all (one moment that really bothered me is when the atheist was being a jerk and it tied between him and a random girl and she died). I couldn’t let some obviously bad people there live over others. I think when you have the power to vote or change or choose, not doing so isn’t also a decision and we bare responsibility over it. If the kid died and the rich man lived in a round, you can’t escape responsibility by not voting. The only way to escape responsibility in this game is if nobody votes. Hell, even sacrificing yourself can be seen as the easy way out, since alive, you could save someone who deserves it.

        Sure, in the game of survivor, I might be able to shelve the moral laws of society and the moral laws of life and play the game. That would be a fallacy, but no worse than the lie you told told to get you there in the first place. hahah. Regardless, if this is real life, and you are now making morality level decisions about life and death, it would become extraordinarily sticky really fast for you. You are opining on someone’s goodness. And you being finite can’t know how good that person over there really is. You just have an opinion of what you THINK their goodness or lack there of might be. Who’s to say the person with the least social skills isn’t the most benevolent among them all? The gruffest? The meanest. What have you.

        I thought about suggesting “town of Salem” which is similar in a way but it’s not really the same and to be honest, the game lately is suffering from a bad community.

        Oh, interesting, I’ve never heard of it. That is a fascinating concept.

        Going back to god and logic. First of all, I understand this stems from your religion but I think you’re (and many others) are blind to the fact that belief isn’t a choice. In order to believe, you need to be convinced, whether by sensing or by logic. The countless religions and theories just show that there simply isn’t a way to reach any specific god as a conclusion objectively. So I find it a little petty to judge someone by belief (which is why the god I believe in couldn’t care less what you believe in and won’t send you to hell for that).

        Truth is. God’s existence is. I may or may not believe there is a God… but that doesn’t mean my belief changes this truth. I never said that it was possible to reach God objectively. You said that. hahah. You assumed that. I also didn’t say that reaching God through logic was a necessity either. But if you are a Deist, which it sort of sounds like you are, then I just spoke heresy! Sure, God speaks to us in ways that we can understand which includes logic, and beauty. The Bible speaks of how creation speaks to God’s power and glory, and is there to point us to Him. Which speaks of how God, a being outside of all things, utilizes things we are capable of understanding in order to communicate.

        As for the logic, I think your argument falls again. You claim that god is above logic but if you do that, you admit that you can’t explain god with just logic. If anything is above logic, especially god, you can’t hold the view that logic is the whole truth.

        I never said Logic was the whole truth. I said it was an objective standard with which to view all things and understand this world. But logic isn’t a god. Logic isn’t all powerful. Of course I can’t explain God! That’d be the silliest, and most illogical thing I’d ever say. Mortals cannot explain immortals. You and I are bound by the concept that we will die one day. We are the epitome of finite-ness. Of course I cannot explain the infinite. I can’t even understand it, let alone explain it. One of my favorite philosophy teachers in school blew my mind telling me that an infinite bookshelf with alternating red and blue books has an infinite number of red books and an infinite number of blue books. Blam! Head blown. And from there on out I was done trying to understand the characteristics and activities of an infinite being.

        Personally, I do believe god is above logic, and so all the paradoxes against him are useless and can’t be seen as proof. But this view doesn’t mean I deny logic on its own. I regard it as the rules of thought and the only way for us to think and communicate, so I use it while always knowing that logic is a necessary assumption, but nothing more.

        Smartest thing you’ve said this entire exchange! hahaha.

        P.S, sorry if I seem bold or disrespectful. I throw politically correctness out the window when I philosophize. Plus, English isn’t my first language so it might effect the tones of my writing. I argue for the sake of truth, not personal feelings.

        Oh, no, this was great. I didn’t think you disrespectful at all. You pointed out the jumps and inconsistencies of my logic. Which is fine. I don’t mind. I enjoy the way you think. Most people don’t even believe in a single idea of beauty. Even my Christian friends don’t understand why that is necessary or logical. Noooo! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Whatever. hahaha. Thanks for taking the time to share. I always enjoy deep dives like this one.

        And on a personal note, I do believe that God does care what you think of Him. Sure, it has zero effect on the Truth of who he is. But it matters to Him. Especially seeing as though he has intervened in history on your behalf in the past. Which is pretty mind blowing. But hey, seems like you are digging your Deism… I just don’t agree that He created all things and then completely disengaged and that He is unknowable. my two cents.

  57. KP

    Seems like the director and writer are given way too much credit here.

    He walks out and sees what is a majority of kids and pregnant women, in fact only a few were not in that little group of 15-20…

    So other circles chose a different path, picking kids or pregnant women, while there will no doubt be manipulators as well. I think the planet the survivors are inheriting is not one I would want to be in.

    I’d probably have volunteered early or alternatively been the quiet non voter, myself. I know I wouldn’t have made it to the end.

    Reply
    • themba

      Unless I missed something…. I don’t think it is possible for a pregnant woman to leave the circle with her baby alive. The baby counts as a life and has a vote. only one life leaves the circle. This is shown when the mother is dead but the survivor and the unborn baby are forced to vote. I think the only conclusions we can draw from the final scene is that not everyone went through the circle ordeal, certainly not the 2 or 3 pregnant ladies.. unless they are carrying dead babies.

      Reply
      • Daniel

        Something bothers me though. It has always been shown that nobody is allowed to leave their circle or touch another person. Which the baby does both if you consider it as a person since he touches his mother all the time and leaves the circle when she falls.

        But if I recall correctly, there was a shot directed at the mothers feet which remained in her own circle. Had there been an empty circle that was never occupied behind her her, it’s make more sense but that’s not the case.

        I think the only way to make sense of this is to consider the mother and baby as one person together. Or maybe one person with two lives.

  58. Daniel

    Sorry I’m a so confused about how this works so I’m gonna reply like this.

    You said: Incorrect, I choose good because God has created it. I choose good because it is what He has asked of me. But if God did not exist, and therefore the concept of “good” doesn’t either (which, most atheists will agree isn’t a thing… they should anyway, if they think about it) then the rules of the road would be completely different. We, as a people would praise those that are able to lie and get away with it. We would praise those that were capable of cheating and getting away with it. We would herald as all but divine those that could steal without any societal repercussions or negative fall out. I mean, the animal kingdom works on similar principles. Do what you have to do to survive.

    If you believe god determines what is good, then you’re holding a subjective view about the good. You also contradict yourself when you say god is incapable of evil when you also say he can do anything. Your view is convenient for a believer because it says god is the highest yet also can’t do evil, but it doesn’t stand logically. The last resort is simply to say we can’t percieve this argument cause it’s beyond logic.

    You’re also underestimating atheists. Atheists can believe in a good, and even in a higher form of an objective good than the one you believe in. You believe the good has to be defined by someone (god in your case) to exist, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We can find many examples in the Bible and today where evil is done and youl have to hide behind the argument that says logic can’t be used to understand it cause it’s beyond it, but atheists that hold an objective view on the good don’t face such contradictions. Not to mention there are atheistic religions like those in the east. A religion doesn’t have to be based on a god.

    Even if god idc the highest form, he’s decisions/opinions/ruling would be subjective. The only way it would be objective is if his words would be based on something higher. And since you base your morals on a subjective view, you’d change your morals immediately if he said so. I don’t think you have the logical right to criticize anyone else’s views on the good then, since your good could change in seconds.

    You can’t judge a sadist if you can theoretically become one.

    You said:

    Hahaha. Ok, so problem that you just hoisted on yourself, and the slippery slope you just started sliding down is that you have just become judge and executioner. Are you capable of judging? Do you really think you know the hearts and intents of people around you? Even if you are given information about his “jerkiness” does that mean you have a right to stand and extend his death sentence? Nope. And the reason here is simple… have you lied before? Sure, you have. Have you sinned before? Sure you have. Then what makes your imperfection any better than his imperfection? From an objective standpoint any sin at all is infinite in its imperfection, in that that is what separates us from God. A perfect being cannot cavort with an imperfect being, regardless of how enormous their imperfection.

    You hold this view cause you’re Christian. I don’t have to be a perfect chef or even know how to cook to judge someone’s food. In a or between the pregnant woman or the kid against the rich man, is it really ok to not vote? I don’t find all “sins” equal and I can definitely judge people. If the kid died in that tie between an obviously bad person, anyone who didn’t vote is also responsible and can’t (or at least shouldn’t) have a clear consiouns (I can never spell that). Doing nothing is also a choice and taking this choice cause it’s the easiest isn’t a clean neutral thing.

    You said: Sure, in the game of survivor, I might be able to shelve the moral laws of society and the moral laws of life and play the game. That would be a fallacy, but no worse than the lie you told told to get you there in the first place. hahah. Regardless, if this is real life, and you are now making morality level decisions about life and death, it would become extraordinarily sticky really fast for you. You are opining on someone’s goodness. And you being finite can’t know how good that person over there really is. You just have an opinion of what you THINK their goodness or lack there of might be. Who’s to say the person with the least social skills isn’t the most benevolent among them all? The gruffest? The meanest. What have you.

    Social morals are also subjective. Of course there would be sticky situations like choosing between the girl and the mother, but many situations aren’t. In this case, there are many people who it’s obvious to see who’s better and who’s worse. The rich guy was obviously an awful person, same with the religious guy who showed his true colors later.
    Also, what lie are you talking about? I’m not sure i got you there.

    You said: Truth is. God’s existence is. I may or may not believe there is a God… but that doesn’t mean my belief changes this truth. I never said that it was possible to reach God objectively. You said that. hahah. You assumed that. I also didn’t say that reaching God through logic was a necessity either. But if you are a Deist, which it sort of sounds like you are, then I just spoke heresy! Sure, God speaks to us in ways that we can understand which includes logic, and beauty. The Bible speaks of how creation speaks to God’s power and glory, and is there to point us to Him. Which speaks of how God, a being outside of all things, utilizes things we are capable of understanding in order to communicate.

    I never said belief changes the truth. But in order to believe in the truth, you need to be convinced either by sensing it or by logic. The Bible isn’t proof cause you can’t prove the Bible. Nothing is proof because you can explain it metaphysically in many different ways.

    If there was a way to logically reach god or sense him directly, we’d all have the same belief. The wide possibilities to explain everything shows that you simply can’t. And so, how is it ok for god to punish those who don’t believe? The only way to justify it is saying that one can’t use logic cause god and his decisions are beyond it. It’s a valid argument but under assumptions of logic, it’s useless.

    Idk what a deist is. Regardless, I think the only heresy I’d accuse anyone of is sticking to a contradiction (while saying it’s bad logical).

    You said:

    I never said Logic was the whole truth. I said it was an objective standard with which to view all things and understand this world. But logic isn’t a god. Logic isn’t all powerful. Of course I can’t explain God! That’d be the silliest, and most illogical thing I’d ever say. Mortals cannot explain immortals. You and I are bound by the concept that we will die one day. We are the epitome of finite-ness. Of course I cannot explain the infinite. I can’t even understand it, let alone explain it. One of my favorite philosophy teachers in school blew my mind telling me that an infinite bookshelf with alternating red and blue books has an infinite number of red books and an infinite number of blue books. Blam! Head blown. And from there on out I was done trying to understand the characteristics and activities of an infinite being.

    I mostly agree but in that case, how can you see logic as objective? If it’s created by god and can be changed any moment, it’s also subjective and nothing can be determined. Even contradictions can’t be wrong and all claims are equal, including the claims of the Bible and a 3 year old.

    You said:
    And on a personal note, I do believe that God does care what you think of Him. Sure, it has zero effect on the Truth of who he is. But it matters to Him. Especially seeing as though he has intervened in history on your behalf in the past. Which is pretty mind blowing. But hey, seems like you are digging your Deism… I just don’t agree that He created all things and then completely disengaged and that He is unknowable. my two cents.

    Then Hieb js he knowable? You said he can’t be the conclusion of logic and I’m assuming you also think he can’t be perceived by the 5 senses. If there is no way of reaching him And shutting out every other possibility, why is it fair and just to punish nonbelievers?

    From a Christian stand, the only way I managed to explain it, is that as soon as you die, you meet Jesus and he shows you the truth of everything in some mystical way that surpasses logic. And then, only if you still deny it, you are punished (cause denying it would be like saying a contradiction).

    This reminds me of a visual novel called “when the seagulls cry”. It’s a murder mystery where a human in a meta dimension argues with a witch who claims she committed the murders with magic. The humans has to explain the murders with Tricks Ansbach if he can’t, the witch wins. Her main weapon against him is called the red truth, and when she speaks in red, whatever she says is an undeniable truth and that is how she denies his theories.

    Reply
  59. Mukesh

    Your review is absolutely terrible. It really is. Especially when you say you “would sacrifice yourself”. Nobody knows what they would do in that situation. Even the minister didn’t sacrifice himself at first and was voting.

    It was an ok movie. Compelling ONLY because I wanted to see what was going to happen at the end. And obviously as most pretentious movies, there wasn’t a clear explanation. What I will say is that the people you see at the end are similar to the people in the room. All of them. So it can be said that each version of the person survived. But regardless-who cares?

    And the movie touches on all kinds of prejudice and desperation, lies and betrayal etc. But so what? That doesn’t make it a good movie.

    Like I said, it was compelling with a pretty meaningless ending.

    Oh and Superman v Batman was awful.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Just saw this Mukesh.
      First, it just seems like you just need a hug. Personally? I disdain hugs. But for you? I’d give you a hug.

      Secondly, obviously I can’t know WHAT I would do, but my point was that that would be the only morally acceptable solution to the problem. But I also know that I am generally insane, and run against the direction most people go… so I actually do have a half decent indication that I’d do something unexpected in that situation. But would I sacrifice myself? Dunno.

      And as for Superman vs Batman… fair. Don’t really care too much about super hero movies, so, you are welcome to win that particular discussion. Definitely don’t mind at all.
      Taylor

      Reply
  60. jade

    i didnt finish the movie and came here to find out the ending, ended up reading a lot of comments and the review. i liked it, obviously the movies meant to be physocological in a way that reflects on our human existence, our need to survive and to what extent, then ultimately for what in the end if we all just die as a rule anyway? Or do we, is there more to this then that..? I like how the whole who what when where and why is vague, beyond the basics; A bunch of strangers are apparently in a chamber and we get it as much as they do. We get it from their perspective, where we can only get an idea of whats going on based on whats happening infront of us. I could go on and on about the metaphoric similarities between the movie and just the mystery or concept of life and human existence in general which i think was the point. MAJOR NOTE: I scrolled past a lot of comments and don’t know if anyone else said anything about this, but early on in the beginning there was a guy there in the group of 50 who clearly did the circle thing already, and for what ever reason was there again. He was like one of the first to get zapped dead which instantly put that emphasis on how screwed everyone there really is because he was the one person who seemed to understand how to survive or know what was going on then ends up dead fast and without warning or reason out of nowhere just because 2 minutes were up and someone had to go next. He’s the one that started trying to explain to everyone the rules and told everyone to stand still. This probably proves the theory that this is a mass social expirament being done on everyone on earth by some superior alien civilization, and kind of insinuates that the other people eric saw in the end were survivors too (kind of a dead give away) but also maybe that this would happen again and theyd be pitted against each other and put in random groups with new people and each other at some point. maybe over and over. maybe they didn’t have to die at all and that group of people just couldnt figure it out or maybe what played out was the point, maybe not and another game starts maybe its the same last man standing concept, and maybe the reason is for something along the lines of helping human civilization evolve? thin out the heard because we’re over populating? maybe it’s part of an initiation for something like the aliens coming into contact in the first place. Maybe to be part of the bigger picture on a galactic level and find out that we arent the only self aware entities in this universe we had to prove ourselves worthy enough to survive amongst each other in a game where deaths a rule until the last person fit to be there in the end is there still standing. I could go on and on, this thing was thought provoking. It could also be meant to crack open our perspectives of life death reality and right and wrong, and kind of break that. Like who’s to say the way we see things like life and death and what we think about it are accurate. who’s to say it even matters? what if from the movies perspective in order to evolve as a species or in order to keep up with more superior ones, we’d need to be conditioned to look past death and brace ourselves for it with that being the first thing in mind on a minute to minute basis instead of something unthought of, what if they were all being put in a situation meant to break them down to the rawest core imaginable as a self aware entity and its by being faced with ones own iminent demise, with nothing but the idea or hope for a way out of it, and either for our sake of evolving mentally, or for the sake of nothing but an aliens curiosity, a possible way to cheat it by sacrificing others, pregnant woman and children, do things to survive that society or rather the human mind itself looks down on or deems “wrong” or unthinkable. What really defines whats wrong anyway when it’s your only choice in order to survive and again why, what for? totally thought provoking.

    Reply
  61. Dr. C. ABD

    I am likely responding-commenting in the wrong chat box … because it has been a hot minute since I have felt the need to leave comments in a blog … so, be gentle. I found this website by searching Google “circle movie meaning” after watching it on Netflix last night. I found the film on Netflix by searching “best horror movies on netflix” because, well, I was in a Horror mood yesterday. I am in the Thesis writing phase of my PhD in Media Theory/Philosophy, which I come to as a mere mortal … and not one who has spent years in bowels of Analytical or even Continental Philosophy. That makes me an odd layperson, if you will. I have printed out this comment thread from everyone as I will revisit it many times as I complete my writing. My Thesis is on “Living Well Within Autism”. The themes cross genetic testing, playing God, being god-like, Eugenics and Emotional Intelligence.

    Okay. This is an excellent film. Period. Exclamation point. And Taylor, you and your readers have provided so many amazing paths and conjectures for the meaning and potentials of this movie. Thank you, one and all, great and small.

    When my daughter, and her friends and our loved ones on the developmental delayed but high functioning end of the autistic spectrum reach that self-realization point in their development, there is an overwhelming sadness that engulfs them. In our (U.S.) society of capitalism coming into post-capitalism thanks to both the internet and human development, the message remains: “If you are not producing monetary capital, you are a worthless nobody. You are a burden to be carried by the able bodied and better minds to help them feel better by the act of helping the least able.”

    Where modern society’s message fails, and what I point out, and constantly to these now young adults, is that what the artists, autists, weirdos and “Others” bring to the table of humanity is not the seasoning to the meal — but the reason for eating in the first place: LOVE. Pure Love does not have a price tag, and loving and being loved is an act that, I believe, sits at the right hand of, for lack of a better word, “Godliness.” Loving someone with a challenge is a series of daily small invisible acts of compassion. It is remaining solidly at the back of the pack, and screaming with laughter and joy at being the Winners at the Game of Life. We are the Outliers. Ha!

    When we read of the history of our world, and especially the actions of the Holocaust, I believe we see many of the themes this film explored by using extremely effective tropes. I really don’t want to dwell on that, but pretty much the following have no “Use” in a strong-minded worker warrior society: the old, the weak, the disabled, the young, women in menopause, the gay, the Other racially, the Other by having a different language and the Compassionate. Okay.

    In this Circle of humans, the fact that we watch a true blue narcissistic Gamer “win” his round is so very very telling. When he is in that concrete tunnel, repeating the phrases he used to “win”, I was asking myself, “Oh god. Has he done this before? Is he perfecting his Game Play through memorizing the pattern of his manipulations to effect another “win”? And the final “battle” with the fetus was both unexpected and terrifying to this psychopath?” I never thought that he was an implanted Alien. My first thought was that the “winner” was the embodiment of Nietzsche’s Übermensch, “Superman”. But obviously, these theories in human form are actually distasteful, horrific and f*cking scary. Please visit the Comments section of pretty much any Reddit post to watch these “winners” being so very awesome by tearing others down with their cruel words.

    As our “winner” emerges into the aqueduct, and sees the gathering, I immediately thought that these were the other “winners”. I agree with how others in your comment thread, Taylor, have conjectured that there could have been different make-ups of their circles, could have had the same make-up, and better-worse Gamers to end up as “winners”. I absolutely started reading the ending of this film as an absolute reflection of our Modern Times. Now, here is my take, and thank you for giving me the space to think this through.

    We learned through modern genetics that the inbreeding of the Royals (marrying your sister) lent itself to horrific physical, mental and emotional deformities. One should not be swimming in one’s own gene pool. We are learning through this ever-evolving modernity that allowing two partners to choose each other based upon LOVE (instead of being chosen by their families, social status, gender, race, geography, etc…) produces and continues to produce an ever-more emotionally intelligent human population. LOVE will find a way, and the child to two completely different humans will result in an ever-better MUTT. You see it in dog breeding, for sure. Purebred dogs are almost never the “best dog” — it is the MUTT. Here comes my conclusion.

    Even though the large mute man made it to the very end, he was, for me, the God figure, not choosing, and the silent witness to the machinations of the mortals. No facial expressions. Nothing to tell us, the viewers, why or how he made it to the end. To me, he, the little girl and the 16 year old man who offered himself were as close to bringing me to tears for their pure humanity than any of the other characters. The little girl could not understand the game, the mute man made no choices (we will never know if he was actually voting), and the sensitive 16 year old with the awesome t-shirt quickly understood everything about This Game and offered himself early. The truth that the fetus could not make a choice was extremely telling, and I believe the moral compass of this twisted tale. The fetus represents pure potential.

    If the human race were to be whittled down, in this fashion, we will always need the “gifts”, if you will, of the Winner-Gamer. I do not believe that we would ever be left with a Final Circle of Psychopath Gamers. At the end of these too long days, it truly takes all kinds. At every “mating”, whether by LOVE or FORCE, the genetics of compassion will present itself. Our Winner will die. His genes will live on through a child/children and after that child comes into this world, it is absolutely out of the Gamer Winner’s hands how that child becomes a man-woman and chooses to live beyond the death of the Father-Mother. There could be a Female Gamer Winner in that group we see in the aqueduct. And even if those two get together, there is absolutely no way that they could prevent the genetics of their grandparents, parents, great-grandparents, etc. expressing itself over time. Two Gamer-Winners will not and cannot control the outcome, so HA HA HA. I am leaving out even conjecturing for the future of this New Society being built, the Command and Control of the future, and etc. I use the word etc. a lot, and I apologize.

    Ok. So here was my first pass, and feel free to pick it apart. Or toss it on the pile of thoughts. My degree program is based in Switzerland, and we study not far from the cold dark room where Nietzsche himself lived out his final, lonely, sad, cold days after his threesome with Wagner’s (the musician’s) wife. I have had the tremendous gift of studying with those who studied with those who studied with those who KNEW and STUDIED WITH FORMER STUDENTS OF some of our greatest thinkers, including Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Baudrillard, Lyotard, Derrida, (insert philosophical name drop). I believe that over time, the Eastern thinkers are coming out through Western thought by both appropriation and intent. Because I am a philosophical layperson, I am not bogged down by needing to be Correct, which is really nice. It creates endless frustration for my fellow classmates who bring true blue philosophical chops into the classroom. I am the Fool to many of my colleagues, and I proudly accept my label. But I am not an Idiot. 🙂 Freud himself, at the end of his too long days, left us with the following idea, which was in stark contrast to the millions of words he wrote and spoke, and I quote, “Love and work… work and love, that’s all there is.” I really hate that guy, and consider myself a Jungian, and even that dude’s teachings were flawed. We are all flawed, whether or not we recognize flaws as such. We are all ever becoming and the Truth is a mist that forms, reforms, shifts and runs away as we travel through Time on our short 70-80 years on Earth.

    Reply
  62. Ned

    Circle was a peek into an alien in absentia invasion in which an ongoing culling of people from all walks of life were awakening from a trance inside a round chamber where rules were learned fast or get zapped to death like a bug.

    The aliens had a process in which people were given a choice: you could sacrifice yourself and commit suicide by stepping out of the circle; or, groups of people must vote for someone to die. There was a time limit to how long a decision could be made. If no one volunteered to die or group vote was delayed for any reason, then someone would get zapped and die regardless of the groups “reasoned biases” of who should be voted to die.

    The rules made it clear had any pregnant woman lasted to the end her baby would be zapped because it had no way to vote; if she voted to die, it would not be a viable condition for the fetus to have survived.

    It makes no difference who made it to the end—saint or sinner, so to speak—because they would become recycled back in the circle, awakening from a trance and starting out all over again.

    The purpose of the in absentia aliens seemed to be their way of killing off our species without raising a finger, causing trauma to themselves, or making a chaotic, bloody mess of the world.

    When the last person on earth stood alone in the circle, they’d zap that person, too, because there was never any intent or reason to let anyone win or live no matter the reasoning arguments done in hate or with love.

    Reply
  63. David

    When I saw it, I was reminded of similar movies like the Saw series, Would You Rather?, Exam, Various zombie and horror movies where few survive. Perhaps the people being shocked were not actually being killed, but were just made unconscious temporarily so that the abductors could find out who was the most unscrupulous one of all, Eric, and separate him from the others.

    Reply

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