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**** Spoilers **** The Ending of Take Shelter **** WTH Just Happened ****

What you have not seen Take Shelter yet?  Then stop reading this post or you are going to spoil the movie.  Go read one of our other excellent posts or reviews instead or go and watch Take Shelter and then come back and let us know what you think.

 

So I finished watching take shelter and have some questions about what exactly is going on at the end of the film.   I would be interested to hear others interpretation about what I just saw.  I see a few distinct  possibilities:

 

 

 

1.) Curtis is dreaming/having a nightmare.  None of what happens at the end of the film is real.  He is not actually on vacation with Samantha and Hannah but is instead sleeping in his bed or at some nut house.  I am not sure about this possibility because the other characters seem to interact with him more in this scene than the other dream sequences.

 

 

 

 

2.)  Curtis has completely gone off the deep end.  Not only has he lost his mind but his grip on reality is so tenuous that he has incorporated Hannah and Samantha into his psychosis.  His insanity has manifested to the point that his dreams are now his reality.  He is actually on vacation but there is no giant storm approaching from the ocean.  Hannah and Samantha are not confirming that a storm is approaching that is just what Curtis is seeing in his mind.

 

 

 

3.)   Curtis is on his way to recovery.  Curtis with the help of Samantha has turned a corner by opening the door to his storm cellar after the storm, at the point in the film I will call ending #1.  He is actually on vacation and playing on the beach with Hannah when she and Samantha confirm to him that a storm is actually approaching.  What he sees is real.  Now if this is the case then how crazy is Curtis in the rest of the film?  Is he actually a prophet and there are giant storms approaching that he was trying to warn everyone about?  Or is he still crazy and there just happens to be a storm approaching and he still needs to go into treatment for his mental illness?

 

 

 

I imagine that there are many other possibilities that I have not thought of and I would love to hear your thoughts on the film’s conclusion.  I am sort of leaning toward option no. 3 above at this point but I am far from steadfast in that opinion at this juncture.  What do you guys think is really going on?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Max February 18, 2012, 3:37 pm

    In my review for Take Shelter, I likened it to an episode of Twilight Zone. Everyone didn’t believe Curtis was a prophet for future events, but he ended up being able to predict the terrible storm. It’s the type of irony that TZ is known for. Of course that’s just my feelings of how the ending went down.

    • Allgriff February 18, 2012, 3:52 pm

      Max I am leaning in that direction as well. I got to go and check out your review now as well. We should have ours up for this film sometime this weekend. Thanks for your imput.

    • Michael December 17, 2012, 12:03 pm

      If he was a prophet why would he have psychosis? Usually, a prophet seems crazy because they go around and keep saying something is going to happen and people say, “That guy’s crazy.” Curtis has actual psychosis, though. Maybe he is a prophet, but he is definitely crazy; it is real, the chemistry in his brain is abnormal, he could be helped with medication, crazy.

      • Maria May 13, 2013, 6:00 am

        maybe the film wants to say that mental illness is not actually mental illness. It is what we “normal people” perceive as different and abnormal. Maybe mental illness is another aspect of reality. Because there is actually no standard “reality”. There is only what each of us perceives of this world. So maybe this movie implies that there are more “realities” than just one and that people with mental illnesses might just perceive a different aspect of reality than that the rest of us perceive.

  • nediunedited February 18, 2012, 11:02 pm

    First of all, Take Shelter is amazing! (This year’s Oscars have failed greatly in recognizing the truly great films of 2011.) I am leaning on # 3 –after the opening of the storm cellar doors, Curtis is on the road to recovery–it is the first step. So at the end it is the “OH SHIT!” moment–and his wife confirms that what “they” are seeing is, in fact, real! He may have obessed and allowed the paranonia to take hold, but he was indeed a prophet. I love that we were taken on a journey where the lines between reality and fantasy were so blurred–definitely kept you guessing. Brilliant!

    • Allgriff February 19, 2012, 10:07 am

      I concur this film was amazing and got screwed by the academy in much the same way that Drive did. This film is still swirling around in my head as I try to decipher the huge amount of allegory, metaphor and symbolism in the film. Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your input to the discussion.

      • ronny December 4, 2012, 1:19 pm

        Oh man, please tell me you do not think “Drive” is comparable to “Take Shelter”… “Drive” was no where close to poignancy of “Take Shelter” … “Drive” was… well it was bad.

        • maria April 21, 2013, 1:25 pm

          “Drive” was actually an extremely well made movie. Music, casting and lack of dialogue worked wonderfully and the stylized approach completely worked. “Drive” and “Take Shelter” are apples and oranges, and completely different genres.

  • Thomas February 19, 2012, 12:05 am

    I am usually a friend of going with what the director / author shows / tells us. In this case, that means that all the well laid-out possibilities you mention are possible, none are for sure. Had they wanted to decide on a specific ending, they would have done so. I think the finale works very well in punishing us for making up our mind too soon – there is a case for believing in Curtis, and there is a case for doubting him over the course of the film, and if you have picked a side, the end will question your choice. I love the film for doing that, because it reflects Curtis’ own position, he does not know whether to believe his own visions either, but needs to decide whether to act upon them. He is a brave guy, but maybe an ill brave guy.
    My take on the film: http://thomas4cinema.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/take-shelter-jeff-nichols-2011/

    • Allgriff February 19, 2012, 10:15 am

      Thomas I just commented on that post for a second time lol, The more I think about the film the more I like it. I have not seen Jeff Nichols other film Shotgun Stories but I really want to check it out now. I see that it stars Michael Shannon as well. Thanks for stopping by and contributing your two cents to the discussion.

  • Jerry February 19, 2012, 8:22 pm

    This movie is one of the best I have seen!!!! I think at the end he is seeng his worst fears come through. If you notice the water receeded at yhe end and a tsunami was on it’s way. Don’t know the meaning of rusty water drops (volcano eruption from the Canary islands???} please fallow up with the possibility of my theory.

    • Allgriff February 20, 2012, 9:20 am

      Jerry my personal opinion is that it is raining motor oil as a commentary on our dependance on foreign oil and its subsequent effect upon the enviornment and war on terror. Agreed this is one of the best films released last year. Jeff Nichols as writer and director of this film is very impressive. I can’t wait to check out his next project. Thanks for stopping by and adding your ideas about the films conclusion.

      • ronny December 4, 2012, 1:24 pm

        I disagree with your interpretation of the rain. I think you’re trying to hard to find a metaphor behind it. Interesting none-the-less.

        • Jon December 8, 2012, 6:27 am

          I agree there is no metaphor, just creepy and strange. Sometimes there simply isn’t an underlying meaning to things

      • Iosef March 2, 2013, 1:44 pm

        If you tried hard enough, you could interpret 95%± of all film as an allegory for our oil dependency. It’s a Rorschach test, isn’t it? You see what you want to.Curtis was clearly paranoid which we can attest to the non-storm aspects of his psychosis(the dog attack, the creepy people, the birds). At the end you see the weird rain, literally, from the wife’s perspective. This seems to verify it’s reality.

    • Adam April 23, 2012, 3:02 pm

      You can read our review of Take Shelter here. http://3guys1movie.com/?p=3480
      Feel free to let the othe two guys know how wrong they were about the film. :-)

  • Brooke February 20, 2012, 9:51 am

    I certainly don’t like this movie as much as the rest of you. I think the ending needed A LOT of work, and nothing in this movie is explained–why is the girl deaf, what are the meaning of his other dreams with his wife, co-worker, the dog, and the vision where Hannah is grabbed from his truck? Those ‘visions’ should’ve just been skipped over if they had no relevance to the film, which it appears as though it didn’t. Just not crazy about this film, sorry.

    • Allgriff February 20, 2012, 10:18 am

      Hey Brooke thanks for stopping by. I am not sure of all the symbolism involved in all those dream sequences you mentioned. I am still tossing and turning a few of them in my head. I do however have theory on Curtis’ dream involving his wife Samatha. She is always shown sewing in the film which I think is a metaphor for her trying to keep the family stitched together during the troubles they are having. The dream sequence with her and the kitchen knife I interpret as Curtis feeling that she is going to sever the ties that hold the family together. If you recall he has that dream shortly after she walks out on him when he get fired and puts their daughters surgery in jeopardy.

      • kristal elzey February 22, 2012, 3:12 pm

        allgriff, i like the idea of the sewing metaphor

        • Allgriff February 22, 2012, 6:02 pm

          Thanks Kristal, I have been also been thinking about Nichols use of the color red in the film. Samantha has red hair, his dog’s name is red, he picks out a red trailer to build his shelter. I could probably spot some more on a future viewing.

    • Brian April 14, 2012, 11:16 pm

      Brooke,

      The reason the visions are blurred the way they are is to show that his core visions were manifesting in ways that Curtis’ predisposition to schizophrenia was contributing to the prophetic vision of the storm of all storms.

    • John November 29, 2012, 7:11 pm

      Does every part of a movie have to have relevance? No. However if you didn’t see the relevance of each component you fore mentioned then you only watched the movie in where we all saw the movie. The girls deafness would have built on his stress level or a excuse for others to claim such stress and rationalize his having these “paranoid delusions” help build on the other issues as well such as financial, emotional, and a larger seance of protection of his family. The other visions were there to build on the need of a bigger shelter. A storm would have been held out with what was all ready their but. With the fear built in of the (for the lack of a better word) “zombie” aftermath one would need a longer term shelter. Hence why every one thought he was crazy and a big part of the story plot. Personally I don’t think this movie ended. The movie ended primed for more. This “part” I believe is just the beginning of what could be a great 2 part or perhaps a trilogy to complete the telling of it it all.

      Personally I believe this movie was a work of art and can’t wait for the next in its line
      If I had a third hand it would be 3 thumbs up

      • ronny December 4, 2012, 1:26 pm

        Exactly. I think when people try so hard to find a meaning or metaphor behind everything, they’re missing the entire point of the film. Why can’t we just view the film as it is, a hard hitting, fantastically acted piece about a man and his family’s destiny.

        • Jon December 8, 2012, 6:29 am

          metaphor for sewing! Maybe the character just likes to sew

  • Ryan February 20, 2012, 2:15 pm

    Like many leaving comments here, I think Take Shelter is one of the best films of 2011. I just saw it this past week and unfortunately have not seen it a second time. This would have helped a lot with my thoughts on the ending as I originally thought it was the third option you mentioned and that he was indeed a prophet. However, since then I have been thinking that Curtis’ one goal was to get someone to believe him so when his wife believes him at the end, the film’s arc is over. Yet if you believe the ending is reality, the ending is betraying the film’s realistic storytelling it was using up until then. Therefore, my new theory is that the final scene is a dream that the wife (Jessica Chastain) is having. Curtis’ arc still concludes in this interpretation as someone finally experiences what he has been experiencing all along. I just have to watch the film again to see if this interpretation holds up.

    • Lavonn June 15, 2012, 12:43 am

      This is the preceft post for me to find at this time

  • Allgriff February 20, 2012, 3:03 pm

    Hey Ryan, I like your interpretation about what is going on at the end of the film. The idea that Curtis is dreaming and that what Samantha and Hannah see is not an actual storm but Curtis’ illness. If I could extrapolate a bit on that I would suggest that the storm that Curtis has been talking about is in actuality his mental illness and the struggles that he and his family are going through financially, emotionally and socially.
    That intrepretation does present much less of a gotcha you at the end of the film and is in many ways a more satifying coda.
    I like the way your think my friend, thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion.

    • chez September 15, 2012, 12:17 pm

      I also feel this film strongly represents the turmoil in the mind of someone with a serious mental illness. These kinds of serious mental illnesses are often described as a ‘storm’ in the brain. Also Epilepsy has been described as a ‘brain storm’. I also feel he was affected by form of Epilepsy which was co-morbid with his skitzophrenia. He had a seizure in bed, I think this was an Epileptic seizure which was linked to his mental illness. Lots of these kinds of mental illnesses are caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, a physiological cause, and this imbalance can also lead to Epilepsy. The ‘storm’ and his desire to protect himself and his family from it was the mental illness andthe co morbid Epilepsy. He crashed his car I think due to a petty mal seizure. The ‘storm’ also represented the turmoil caused to his loved ones by his mental illness. He also refused to accept the link to his mother, and how she developed her illness around the same time in her life as he did. The fact you never actually saw the storm make landfall is because it was always in the background, a persistant issue in his mind. He felt the desire to protect his family from the illness, so he built a storm shelter to protect them in the only way he knew how, from the storm of his illness approaching. The way he struggles to accept the illness also suggests the ‘storm’ being his fear of accepting his illness. At the end, when they are on the beach, he is taking medication, but he knows, like anyone with a mental illness, that the illness will aways be there. He is however not so stressed and anxious because the medication is beginning to work. He sees the storm, and he recognises he is mentally ill, so everything will slowly get back to some sort of normality. He accepts he will be going to hospital for some intensive therapy, that would have been in his mind, and that is why some of the people appeared to be wearing hospital gowns in his dreams.

      • chez September 15, 2012, 12:33 pm

        Another possibility in the ending is that the stress and worry of living with a man with a serious mental illness, had also caused his wife to develop something like major depression or even skitzophrenia herself, which is why she also saw the ‘storm’ if she saw it at all, and even his daughter had been affected. Living with someone with a mental illness is very stressful, and can lead to otherd developing the illness as well. The months spent with him focussing on the storm may have caused his wife and daughter to believe it too eventually. It’s like religious brainwashing, if you persist in trying to make someone believe you enough, it can have the same detrimental affect on them too. To say that the ending was real is too shallow, this movie is one big metaphor for mental illnesses, and the ‘storms’ they cause in the mind of the sufferer and their loved ones. So yes, he was mentally ill, not crazy, that is a derogatroy term for something which someone cannot help. Mental illness is like any other disease, it needs careful treatment and care. The person is not crazy, they cannot help being ill. Also the services for mental illness are not very good at all. The expense of his treatment was also adding to the stress of living with the illness. It hints on the problems in the American healthcare system. Also another possible ending is that he had not been able to afford the treatment due to losing his job, and eventually him and his family had had to adapt to live with the illness, and his wife chose to do that by believing in his hallucinations and fantasies, to relieve the conflict and tension between them. She did this so much that eventually, it caused her to become ill and she over believed in the same things in the end.

  • NeverTooEarlyMP February 20, 2012, 10:53 pm

    Similar to Ryan’s interpretation, but slightly different, based upon the haunting final shot of Chastain. Her actions and demeanor were so similar to what we saw of Shannon at the beginning of the film, that it made me wonder whether she’s the one who actually has schizophrenia, and everything we’ve come to believe about his character is really just a projection of her hallucinations.

  • Allgriff February 21, 2012, 1:25 pm

    NeverTooEarlyMP you just blew my mind lol. I like the idea that its a dream but the idea that Samantha is the schizo one may be a bridge too far for me. Still I like your outside the box thinking. Now if you said that the deaf daughter was actually possesed by the devil and manuipulating everyone else with the power of her demonic mind then I might agree with you.

  • kristal elzey February 22, 2012, 3:10 pm

    I think it’s interpretation, I don’t think they went on vacation, they couldn’t afford it, all they had was enough to pay bills, he absorbed them into the dreams like his previous dreams, he simply was falling worse and worse into the schizophrenia and then was totally psychotic.

    • Allgriff February 22, 2012, 5:54 pm

      Almost forgot thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the converstation. :-)

      Adam

  • Allgriff February 22, 2012, 5:53 pm

    Kristal, that does make a lot of sense, Curtis is the primary bread winner and hes out of work and he borrowed that money to build the shelter. On top of those financial strains he is losing his benefits and they need to find cash to pay for Hannah’s ear surgery. It would be shocking if they could come up with the $800 they mentioned for just the rental of the vacation home never mind travel costs and food etc..

  • scottydynamite February 23, 2012, 4:11 pm

    Honestly Adam I was not blown away by the ending and have not spent much thought on it as a whole. Curtis is going into treatment so I think they took that last family vacation before he goes away to get well and the storm actually came. I think Curtis’ fears came to fruition. Preparing for devestation is a waste of time because if it is your time it is your time. Curtis did all that work on the shelter and when the storm finally came he was far from the safety he thought he created. Preparing for the disaster created the disaster, such is life. Carpe Diem

  • Allgriff February 24, 2012, 10:29 am

    Yeah I don’t know Scott the more I think about the ending the less likely I think it is that Curtis is some modern day Noah and more likely that he is crazy. The fact that his family sees the storm coming in his dream in the last scene symbolizes their recognition that he is suffering from mental illness and needs help. For the first time they are not mad or angry or confused about what he is doing and instead see that he is ill. The storms are a metaphor for the troubles facing the family financially, emotionally and socially.
    I finding it harder and harder to fathom that Nicholls would create this nuanced tale filled with dream symbolism and then at the end just go nah Curtis was right all along. That ending just rings of a lack of authenticity considering all the build up. At least thats my take on it so far.

    • Yannis October 28, 2012, 1:55 pm

      I saw the movie some months ago and I had discussion recently with friends. I found out that we had a very opposite opinion about the end. We could recognise that is an open-end (why not? The movie is also very interesting for other aspect than trying to know if he is ill or not. It is not a disaster movie anyway. ). But some elements make me think that the movie treat the subject of a familly where is a lot of love and solidarity despite some mental healts problems concerning the father (his deaf girl is somewhere a way to justify this illness) and what the family is ready to accept to do in order to maintain the family union. One element that can be seen as detail to back up my opinion is that in the last scene they all together on holidays in a hotel next to the sea far from any shelter they can see a storm coming where obviously no warnings have been triggered from the state or any local authority and where we know how hasardous can at that moment to be next to the sea. Can we suppose reasonably that was a kind of an undocumented huge storm not heralded by anyone, any authority. From the images that we can see is just another normal storm coming from the sea, nothing more. The stress in the face of his wife and daughter comes from the uncertainty of the reaction of the father to face to this new storm far from his shelter. It could be the test of his good recovery or not?

  • Eric February 24, 2012, 7:52 pm

    Hi guys, great discussion! I just finished watching this for the first time tonight, and I loved the movie. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the ending, but I don’t believe the incoming storm at the vacation home was real. I like the two theories mentioned above: 1) he is having another nightmare, or 2) Chastain is dreaming this event. I don’t see Shannon’s character as being a prophet, just someone struggling mightily with paranoid schizophrenia. Either way, this is a movie I will be thinking about for a while!

    • Allgriff February 26, 2012, 9:32 am

      Hey Eric thanks for stopping by. Agree totally that this is the kind of movie you kick around in your head for awhile.

  • Eric February 24, 2012, 8:32 pm

    So I have been reading other discussions/theories about the ending, and I found a really interesting thread over at MUBI

    I have found myself agreeing most with Darren Gregory’s comment on page three. Basically that Curtis is still dreaming at the end, but this time he felt he wasn’t on his own anymore and finally had the support of his family. That would explain why his wife and daughter both saw the impending storm.

    I love how this movie is open to so many interpretations. Such a great film.

    • Allgriff February 26, 2012, 9:34 am

      A great film indeed and also got shafted by the Academy.

      Thanks for that link, lots of interesting new ideas

      Adam

    • Dixie October 21, 2012, 4:23 pm

      Eric, I agree completely. I just finished watching it for the second time. I had to come to grips with that ending.

  • Doug Parry February 25, 2012, 2:32 am

    I think #3 for sure, Although I did find the other 2 interesting. At least, I wanted to believe it was number 3, just because I liked the character and this would validate him and be kind of like an F-U to the rest of the town.

    • Allgriff February 26, 2012, 9:35 am

      Hey Doug, thanks for stopping by. Shannon did a great job in making Curtis seem so sympathetic, I found myself really pulling for him while I watched the film.

  • Joe T. February 25, 2012, 9:20 am

    Finally watched it last nite. Michael Shannon was superb. I was also unsure of the ending, but I went away thinking he truly was having premonitions. Earlier in the film it was my impression that his daughter reacted to seeing something he was seeing. ??
    And I tho’t it was indeed a tsunami coming. Brilliant film nonetheless. Like Drive, it was completely screwed over by Oscar. :(

    • Allgriff February 26, 2012, 9:37 am

      Hey Joe T. thanks for stopping by and adding your two cents.

      Totally agree this film got hosed just like Drive, two of my favorite films from last year.

  • Brent Smith February 25, 2012, 10:00 pm

    It is interesting how no one really mentions that he could have been perceiving a Tsunami (or natural disaster) the entire time. And after listening to the “non-crazy” and escaping his tormented safe place (of Ohio) that by doing so he actually ended up on the coast during the storm. The other thing which is not mentioned here is nuclear rain which if is a large enough nulcear device was exploded it would cause acid (nuclear) rain and could also cause the Tsunami.

  • Allgriff February 26, 2012, 9:40 am

    Hey Brent, thanks for stopping by… I had not even considered the possibility that what we were seeing was the result of some sort of nuclear attack. That is an interesting angle.

  • Susan February 27, 2012, 2:41 pm

    This is what movie making is all about. Not cheap thrills via the crude jokes about bodily functions, or “gotta have nudity and sex” to sell route, this movie is thought provoking about several viable topics in one fell swoop and leaves the viewer wondering. This kind of ending can disappoint some moviegoers but overall most viewers will find this a real gem. Academy members really screwed up by not nominating this film..but really should we be surprised. Most of Hollywood’s movers-n-shakers are missing the mark on all fronts and ultimately responsible for their own demise.

    • Allgriff February 28, 2012, 6:36 pm

      Susan, although my two fellow reviews were not that enamored with the film. I, had a similar opinion of the film as you. This was one of the better films I saw that was released in 2011 and thought that Shannon got hosed in not getting an oscar nomination for his amazing performance.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out our blog.

  • Frank February 29, 2012, 1:26 pm

    When I finished the film, I thought the ending conveyed that Curtis was actually having premonitions, and that the storm was indeed real. The camera focus’ on Chastain first (if I remember correctly) and Curtis isn’t even involved at the first sighting of the storm. Too me, I thought that the ending was real. That’s not saying that the ending couldn’t have been another dream by Curtis, since he is in every scene in the film, and the film is telling his story. The questions I have are about the other dreams he had. The dreams with the dog attacking him, and of the truck crash with his daughter, and the mob of people breaking into his crashed truck. Those dreams don’t add up to the validation of the ending, but made for some damn good suspense.

    • Allgriff March 2, 2012, 12:34 pm

      Hey Frank thanks for stopping by and adding your two cents to the conversation. I think I am still leaning toward it being a dream but I like the fact the film is so open to interpretation.

    • george hartselle May 6, 2012, 10:14 pm

      Ever hear of Richard Laymon’s “One Rainy Night?” The novel posits a rain that creates horrid behavior for all who are wet. Could be the storm created bizzare behavior for man and animal? Perhaps the family hurries home and the dreams come true sequencially?

  • PushnDownHippys February 29, 2012, 4:43 pm

    In an interview I watched with Jeff Nichols, Jeff stated that he had the ending written prior to deciding to bring in the possibility of schizophrenia as a way to move the story forward. If that was the case, then the ending should be taken literally as well as metaphorically (which is how I perceived it on first viewing). In my opinion, this takes nothing away from one of the best films of the year, not to mention THE best performance of the year.

    • Allgriff March 2, 2012, 12:37 pm

      Hey thanks for stopping by and checking out our blog. Do you have a link to that interview? I would love to check it out. I had read that during a panel discussion Nichols was asked directly if the ending was real or a dream. His response as mine would of been was “what do you think”. The films ambiguity is one of my favorite parts. Whatever the ending, the film was one of best I viewed last year.

    • Allgriff March 2, 2012, 12:38 pm

      forgot to mention I love your avatar name lol

  • rrclimber March 3, 2012, 11:04 am

    Interesting discussion about this film. One thing that I do know after watching this movie is that it when the apocalypse comes, it will rain tang from the sky!
    Seriously though, I wasn’t blown away by this movie and thought it was just ok. The one thing that keeps me on the like side of this movie is the thought that the final scene is for real. It makes me feel better about having just spent 2 hours watching it. For me, if all this was about at the end was watching a nutter for 2 hours then this movie was not very good. There is a fine line between making a great art house movie and making a self-indulgent turd burger. Nichols is definitely treading that line here. I am going to continue to believe that the ending was for real so I can keep this film on the good side of that line.

    • Allgriff March 3, 2012, 11:08 am

      Your hate for this film has convinced me to hire a gypsy to put a curse on you. That curse will cause to you to grow a Michael Shannon type mole. :-)

  • Nat March 4, 2012, 6:46 am

    Very good movie. I think a point alot of people are missing is that in life, nothing is usually black and white, there are grey areas. That being said, I am entertaining the possibility that he is mentally ill yet the storm at the end is in fact real. Not necessarily that he predicted the storm, but possibly a victim of coincidence. Another possibility is the dreams he had represent his fear of becoming like his mother, the storm representing her illness.the people pulling out hannah coyld represent his fear of being taken awat from his family. Also schizophrenics tend to have unrational thoughts that everyone is against them. Anyway, if the storm in previous dreams is his fear of impending illness, then the ending could be interpreted as another dream representing that fear coming to fruition. I have to say though, im partial to the idea that his illness and the end storm actually nothing to do with each other, only coincidence because that seems more interesting.

    • Allgriff March 6, 2012, 9:56 am

      Hey Nat, thanks for stopping by and adding your two cents. This was one of the better movies I saw last year. Regardless of what the end means, those dream sequences were great to watch.

  • HIThere March 20, 2012, 9:37 pm

    He was in Florida. Where was the storm coming from?

    • Adam March 21, 2012, 10:39 am

      Hey thanks for stopping by and checking out our blog. I think they are actually on vacation in Myrtle Beach SC.

      • mary lukowski March 27, 2013, 6:58 am

        the vacationed in Myrtle Beach, SC

  • HIThere March 21, 2012, 11:01 am

    Adam sorry about that. What did the whole story mean to you?

    • Adam March 21, 2012, 11:14 am

      No worries, I think the film was about the stresses upon familes in a post 911 world. The characters are struggling to keep their family together during a financial collapse, while being faced with environmental and social degradation. I am still on the fence as to whether or not his visions were true, or caused by mental illness, or a combination of the two. What I do know is that I thought the film was amazing, and that both Shannon and Chastain gave amazing performances. What did you think about it?

  • HIThere March 21, 2012, 12:19 pm

    I did not really understand it at all. At first I thought it was a nuclear bomb coming or a war of some sort. However, he was going mad because he wants to protect his disable daughter from a hostile world that would treat her unfair. Curtis sees her as being perfect, but humanity wants to change her to fit in with them better even her mom. He cannot tell anyone the truth because people would condemn him.

    • Adam March 21, 2012, 6:19 pm

      Hmmm thats an interesting interpretation that I had not considered. Your thinking Curtis wants his daughter to remain deaf.

  • HIThere March 21, 2012, 8:47 pm

    I think Curtis wants his daughter to keep her innocence knowing other influences would change her. Innocence of a child and trying to protect her
    is that way off?

    • Adam March 22, 2012, 9:30 am

      Hey friend, no I am not saying that your interpretation of the film is way off. I am just saying its the first time that I have read that particular interpretation. That is one of the things I enjoyed about the film, the open endedness of it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Emily March 31, 2012, 2:55 pm

    I just LOVED this movie. At first I didn’t like the ending, but then I thought about it and came to the conclusion that it was another of his dreams.

    1. Without discussion they decide to use the money to go on vacation instead of getting surgery for their daughter-and chances of getting it after the health insurance is canceled are slim to none.

    2. The psychiatrist just happens to recommend getting away from the shelter, and their vacation plans fit a bit too neatly. Also I have been around delusional people and seen their treatment, and such a thing as getting away from the shelter would not have been recommended-the delusions will just follow you….

    3. His wife and daughter do not act realistically-no one tries franctically to get away….it is all about confirming and validating his feelings and concerns.

    I thought perhaps he had started taking meds and so, combined with the events at the shelter, he was healing. Now, instead of his wife or someone in the dream trying to kill him, she and his daughter support and understand and validate him…

    Anyway, those are my thoughts……

    btw, I think the storm represents his mental illness……

    • Adam April 3, 2012, 11:20 am

      Hey Emily, thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion. I find myself agreeing with many of your thoughts about the conclusion of the film. Good call on the treatment aspect of Curtis’ illness.

  • Jon April 3, 2012, 4:02 pm

    Just saw the movie this weekend and my wife and I discussed it all weekend long. There’s another interpretation to the dreams as well as the ending I’d like to share.

    1. The ending is real. The storm is the tip of a massive global reckoning… an extinction level event perhaps. It’s curious that the storm just all of a sudden, ‘became’ without any notice, alarms, or warning, but that would be the nature of such a powerful reckoning, regardless of the spiritual or natural source.

    2. The green oil like fluid is dangerous to humans at large. Perhaps not in small doses like the drips we saw in people’s hands, but it has an effect on them. Much like Curtis’ fear of chemical dangers, the fluid or the air surrounding the storms, killed birds in his dreams, en masse, to represent the dangers to come.

    3. The strange behavior of people in his dreams, represent those that did not survive the event, and that either Curtis and his daughter managed to avoid contamination to survive, or that they are immune in some way. Whether it be the green fluid or the chemicals in the air created by the storms, those ‘infected’ display loss of mental stability, and showed enhanced levels of aggression and violence. This explains why his friends and dog were always attacking him and his daughter, as well as why his wife was soak n’wet, not looking fully coherent, and going for the knife to attack him. I’m not saying they were Zombies, but the fact it was always raining, and the people in the dreams always acted out of their wits just seems too much of a pattern to be just in-dream paranoia.

    I think the way it all plays out is, they get out of Myrtle Beach alive, ‘Take Shelter’ from the event, and the dreams Curtis had in the movie, are of the days after the storm has hit, and the suffering and trials they must endure to face the aftermath the storm has left behind.

    … but we haven’t figured out the levitating furniture meaning yet. :)

    • Adam April 3, 2012, 4:55 pm

      Damn Jon I had not really considered #3 at all. Thats an interesting take on the dream sequences, I am going to have to toss that around in my dome for awhile. I almost feel like I need to rewatch the film to see if I caught anything that I missed the first go around. Say did you happen to catch that his dog was named Red, his wife has read hair and he buys a red storage unit to stick in his yard? Not sure if that is some sort of color symbolism to help support your #3. Thanks for stopping by and checking our blog and leaving your thoughts on the film. Glad you and your wife enjoyed the film as much as I did.

  • Alec Muzquiz April 4, 2012, 7:15 pm

    He was either having another one of his dreams, or he was foreseeing this storm and it was the end. It is really a toss up because both endings have a good deal of support behind them. I think it was the latter though. As for his dreams they seem as if there are telling you the aftermath of it all, or while it’s going on (this may be wrong, but it seems that way a little). They show his wife in one dream and she looks funny and she is slowing leaning to garbing a knife. So I imagine she tried to kill him or his daughter and he had to kill her. Then in one dream there is a bang and all the furniture was floating and he was holding the daughter, no wife. Then they are driving in the car in the rain and the daughter gets taken away and he is getting strangled (it would seem they are both dead). He locked up the dog, so that dream couldn’t come true. The other big one was when Curtis and his family were all in his shelter, I still can’t figure that one out. I am going to see it again soon, sorry if this didn’t make too much sense, just wanted to say something right now because you posted comments on my blog (thanks for that). As a little side note, in my review, the ending could have ended in a different way. There were playing it safe with that ending. Either way, no way this is going to have a happy ending. I am going to buy this movie and watch it like 3 times, then reply again on a better level, if a movie can get you talking and thinking about it, then it’s one to buy.

    • Adam April 23, 2012, 2:48 pm

      Agreed Alec, this is certainly one of those films that needs to be seen a few times to figure out exactly what is going on. Thanks so much for stopping by and contributing
      :-)

  • Damien April 7, 2012, 9:45 am

    The end was real,the storm was real and the contamination was also real.IMO the dreams/visions he had were a warning about future events that would have happened,but because of those visions he managed to change the course of the events!The dog,his friend,the kidnapping of his daughter,etc.Only 1 of his dreams made me think a lot.The dream were his wife was about to attack him.In the scene you clearly see he has gray hair on his sides,so that means they survived the contamination of the rain for a while,until his wife got it.The thing is that we don’t know if he managed to change the course of that event or not.

    • Adam April 23, 2012, 2:50 pm

      Hey Damien thanks for stopping by, I am not sure if thats exactly my interpretation of of what is going on but the open-endedness of the film is certainly one of its strong suits.

  • jjboogie April 9, 2012, 11:06 am

    i enjoyed the movie quite a bit after just one viewing. probably will give it another go to see what else i can pick up on.

    i can’t confirm but i thought at the beach, his daughter no longer had her hearing aids – implying she may have had surgery? she also mad more “sound” vocally than at anytime during the movie – also implying that she may have had surgery and was beginning therapy. this would imply that the ending was more likely “real life” perhaps?

    they did say they were going to try and move the surgery up and have it covered by benefits. there was no definitive answer to whether they had success doing this.

    anyone confirm or deny the hearing aids being in or out that has seen the movie a few times?

    also – my feeling about the people in his dreams he had conflicts with were that they were people who in real life would be partial causes of him being “away” from his shelter when the storm finally came…his wife pushes him towards the beach and therapy, his co-worker gets him fired, and i wouldn’t be shocked if the people at his window and in the car accident were his boss and other co-workers who again pushed him away from the shelter. in short he could see the future storm – but he could also see in some way the people who would be pushing him away from his shelter.

    my personal take on the ending was one in which his visions were all real and he was never suffereing from P.S. – i would imagine a prophet would go through similar deep confusion his first time seeing visions and the P.S. in the family was a great plot device to trick us (and him).

    i felt the storm at the end of the movie was real and what he envisioned all along. it was eerily similar to the first storm he saw in fact. this was the end of the world or at least his world – and that was why in some part he seemed more “okay” with it in a calm(er) way.

    where i can’t make up my mind is whether they survived. my gut feeling is they did not (tsunami or what have you) – but that is based on the idea that the people he had such horrible dreams about were the ones who would be inadvertently taking him away from the shelter and safety – and by being at the beach instead it was he and his family’s end regardless of the rest of the world.

    of course there are many ways of reading into it – which made it more enjoyable. there’s a lot of symbolism in there that supports multiple theories as well.

    • Adam April 12, 2012, 10:28 am

      Hey thanks for stopping by and adding your input to the discussion Tate. Thanks a nice well thought out analysis of the film. Feel free to stop by and comment on other topics if something else catches your eye.

  • Rob April 15, 2012, 8:05 am

    Ok – I have never done this before (look online for info or discussions about a movie). I enjoy movies immensely as getaways to another time or world or experience, to exit reality and live in another reality for a short while. I usually don’t analyze movies, but I watched this movie coming back home on a 13 hour flight, and a couple days later am still thinking about it.

    I am pleasantly surprised at many of the comments above, what everyone interpreted the movie to be, and if the journey was about him being a prophet or about the onset of mental illness. The ending threw me – suddenly it as not one or the other, but possibly both – or it was a Director’s fantastic way to end a movie and hope that people are ok with having an ending that lets the imagination go wild.

    My simple thoughts on the ending are below;

    I like one of the posts above that the ending is merely another one of his dreams, and is about him seeing that his family is finally with him – meaning that she has chosen to stay with him rather than leave – which is what his mother did. It avoids the complications and thoughts that he is mental, and oh by the way just by coincidence, an ELE (extinction level event) occurs.

    If you thought it was real at the end, do you think they were SOL? I would like to think that the Director was more forgiving than that.

    • Adam April 23, 2012, 2:53 pm

      Hey Rob, welcome aboard, If that ending was real I think they are all screwed, that looked like about 4 water spots and a Tusnami and they are right on the beach.

      I did not catch that lack of hearing aids you mentioned, I will try and catch that on a rewatch.

      thanks for stopping by and don’t be a stranger.

  • Nichole April 16, 2012, 4:13 am

    My fiancé and I watched this movie last night and I can’t stop thinking about it. This morning I woke up and thought about the hydro-fracking aspect. The family lives in Ohio, Curtis works for a company that drills into the ground. I know this movie was made before the EPA linked hydro fracking to as a possible cause of earthquakes, but I think this is more of an allegory into our continuing destruction of this planet bringing about catastrophic climate change. Also, there’s a great review in the NY Times about this movie that talks about how the movie captures what many Americans are afraid of everyday–keeping their job, making enough money do make ends meet, being one paycheck away from financial disaster. Anyway you look at it, this is a great movie.

    • Adam April 23, 2012, 2:55 pm

      Hey Nichole, thanks for stopping by. I think you may be onto something with that fracking angle. While the EPA has been dragging its feet, communites have been complaining about fracking for years.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, your welcome back anytime :-)

  • Watson April 16, 2012, 9:03 am

    So happy to have discovered this forum for the haunting Take Shelter. Any movie ending that inspires thoughtful discussion usually has hit its mark. Personally, I’m landing on the argument that the storm isn’t real – although i was pulling for a “real” tornado essentially through the last half of the film.
    My sense of the movie is that only once was a storm “real” – the storm that chased them into the shelter donning masks. Once his wife inspired him to take the next significant step and open the shelter doors – and he emerged to the aftermath of a passing storm – was he able to push himself to the medical specialist who (properly) diagnosed him with schizophrenia.
    The final scene at Myrtle Beach is a dream – except this storm is by far the most ominous – from this we can gather his acceptance that indeed he understands the struggle he is facing with his illness, but the exception is that – instead of figures in his dream attacking him (his dog, his best friend, the community at large, and his wife eying the kitchen knife), his family is in solidarity with him and he won’t have to face his bleak future alone.
    I think this interpretation is solidified by the motor oil that falls from the sky – something that clearly doesn’t happen in a “true” reality. His wife acknowledging the oil, plus holding his daughter in his arms, has brought him peace in the face of a devastating onslaught.
    It’s hard for me to accept that the final storm could be interpreted literally – that multiple tornadoes and a massive tsunami approach from the coast of South Carolina – and that he drove his family to their doom due to multiple visions – I’m not seeing that at all.

    • Gurmeet April 21, 2012, 6:50 pm

      I’ve been reading thru multiple endings. I just commented and then read your reply. Your interpretation is the only one that parallels my thoughts. Don’t understand how everybody doesn’t see it that way.

      Good response though. I did the lazy version of your response.

    • Adam April 23, 2012, 2:57 pm

      Watson, I think you an I have a very similar interpretation about the films ending. Feel free to stop by and comment on other posts in the future. We always like to have as much discussion about our posts as possible.

  • Gurmeet April 21, 2012, 6:45 pm

    My interpretation for the ending was different different then most. He was still schizo and the storm at the end was not real. What it was signifying was that the family believe and understand how real this disease is. They’re starting to understand how real it is to an individual suffering from this and that’s the beginning to recovery(as much as you can).

    • Adam April 23, 2012, 2:58 pm

      Gurmeet that is pretty much the way I am leaning at this point as well. Good job reading through that whole list of possible endings people are suggesting, its turning into quite a list.

  • mrose April 22, 2012, 12:48 am

    i do not believe that the film suddenly
    shifts from the abstract to the literal, from dealing with mental illness to the reality
    of a tsunami. to me it appears that after the doctor’s appointment, the family goes through
    a transition in understanding the disease and bonding in that new understanding.
    the wife now can share the experience of her husband and must deal with her own
    feelings of being overwhelmed by the tsunami of hardship ahead as her husband is
    overtaken by his disease. his disease is now their disease, and she welcomes this rather
    than remaining in denial. her last word is, “ok,” signifying that she will face what is
    happening as he, and the family, struggle to stay afloat in the midst of his schizophrenia.

    • Adam April 23, 2012, 3:01 pm

      MRose, I think that is an excellent intrepretation about what is happening in the film. The film is filled with allegory, metaphor and symbolism and the idea that the writer/director Nicholls would just pull the rug out at the films conclusion and say tada it was all real, seems to be a bit outlandish, to me.

      Thanks so much for adding your two cents feel free to comment on other posts on our blog.

  • Adam April 23, 2012, 2:42 pm

    You can check out our 3guys1movie review of Take Shelter right here http://3guys1movie.com/?p=3480

    Please feel free to leave comments regarding how correct I was about this film and how wrong the other two guys were :-)

  • Matt April 23, 2012, 9:56 pm

    I just saw the movie and decided to see what other people thought about the ending. I’m kind of surprised that so many people seem confused or that they see the ending as ambiguous.

    I quite often find ambiguity and multiple interpretations in complex and finely crafted movies like this, but “Take Shelter” seemed cut and dried to me. Its ending felt very much like an M. Night Shyamalan film, at least back in the day when he knew how to make good movies, and it was very satisfying to me.

    How I interpret the ending:

    The storm/disaster at the end is very obviously real. The ocean is receding, and a megatsunami–as well as the storm and tornadoes–is visible in the distance.

    There are many clues that Curtis and his family would die of drowning. First is the constant presence of water. Second is the fact that Curtis is always suffocating during and after his dreams. Third is the vision of his furniture floating, which is undoubtedly what happened in the beach house after the screen faded to black.

    Reasons what we saw at the end was “real”:

    The bulk of the movie was a head fake to make us believe that Curtis was indeed crazy after the family emerged from the shelter. But nobody would listen to him, including the psychiatrist whose advice led to their tragic end. Sam and Hannah both clearly saw the impending disaster. They were NOT part of Curtis’s supposed psychosis. One major clue is because Hannah signed the word “storm,” which Curtis had not learned, and which is why Hannah made him turn around to see what she was trying to tell him.

    And I think it was more–MUCH more–than just a storm or even a tsunami, although the latter was indisputably a part of it. Jerry (above, February 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm) could be right. Some scientists think a volcano in the Canary Islands could very well trigger a megatsunami in the future. And because Curtis’s visions proved to be essentially true, he is probably right that the disaster would be of such proportions that even Ohio would be devastated. His visions also didn’t need to be interpreted as a literal storm. “The coming storm” is a common metaphor for any impending catastrophe.

    An equally if not more likely scenario could be something like an asteroid or comet strike. Maybe director/writer Jeff Nichols was influenced by the comet of “Deep Impact,” which created a massive tsunami that hit the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. An asteroid strike would also cause massive storms and weather disruptions and would eject a lot of matter and junk into the atmosphere that would fall back to Earth, like the oily liquid.

    Some people seem disappointed in such literal interpretations, but that’s the most likely explanation, and I’m OK with that.

  • Aubrey April 28, 2012, 9:45 pm

    Matt, will you please watch all future movies with me? Because that is the most sense I’ve read in the last few hours after watching it. I completely forgot the scene with the furniture but thought of it immediately. The scene after the car accident and being pulled from the car also reminded me of people being rescued from a car. I’m also compelled to think it’s real as there daughter was the one who acknowledge it and the wife before he had even turned around. He had stop believing in himself and now the lack of faith is what will do them under.

  • Matt April 29, 2012, 9:03 am

    Just watched this movie last night at a film festival.

    Nichols and Shannon were on-stage afterwards for a Q&A. For what it’s worth, Nichols explained that he wanted Curtis and his wife “to see the same thing” for once, and that was what was most important to him about the ending. The rest, he said, is open to I interpretation.

    How’s that for a non-answer answer? :-)

  • Cody April 30, 2012, 1:56 am

    So I literally just finished the movie and decided ill look online and see what other people think and i have to agree with Matt’s conclusion above. personally i loved this movie and its determinable category. it reminded me of the movie super featuring Michael Rapaport, basically first off if you haven’t seen it find it and indulge. Super follows a man who is unhappy with his life so he signs up for drug testing and the drug messes with his psyche so he thinks hes a superhero. the reason i bring this up is because with all good movies that deal with mental illness or breaks from reality, i find my self loving them and their story.

  • Braedon May 4, 2012, 7:14 am

    I’m only going to comment on the ending (cause it would take forever to try and pick apart every part of this awesome movie). Here is what I think is happening at the end of the movie. I’m going with choice number 1 at the top of the page (even though it’s not the ending I wanted)… but here is why…

    First off, it can’t rain oil (look it up)… so when the motor oil (or rain that looks like motor oil) lands on his wife’s hand at the end, that is not real. That’s the first indicator. The second (and HUGE) indicator is the scene where they show his wife taking the “Beach” money out of the envelope and putting it in her purse. She does it reluctantly and sadly AND after Curtis loses his job (implying that they need to use the money for things they NEED… not a vacation.) After Curtis loses his job, and they have to pay for a psychiatrist, and pay for his daughters needs.. there is no money left for a vacation. Curtis even says near the end of the movie that he thinks they can’t afford a psychiatrist… AND they showed how much money it was costing to fill his truck up with gas, and it was over $6,000 to build the shelter. It just seems to me that this movie focused a ton on money (even at the market when the wife reluctantly took $8, in change none-the-less). And after everything the family went through (financially), how are they going to afford a vacation? They even mentioned how renting the vacation home was going to be $899.00 dollars a week.

    One thing I did like that Matt said was how in all of Curtis’s dreams, it indicated drowning. BUT, couldn’t that just mean the ending was a dream as well and was indicating drowning just like all the other dreams?

    My final thought :

    I think the end was a dream, and the reason the storm was so intense and massive is because Curtis now knows he was ‘crazy’ and was trying to fight it. And whatever “IT” was, was fighting back and trying to get a stronger hold on his mind. I think that his wife and daughter acknowledging the storm in this dream symbolizes that they are by his side and are going to help him fight against this ‘problem’ that he has. Basically the end symbolizes the beginning of Curtis trying to cure his problem. And it’s like…. Curtis, his wife, and his daughter VS. the Storm (his mental problems). That’s why the storm is so massive at the end… it’s no longer just Curtis VS. The Storm. Now the storm has to fight three people.

  • luxs May 5, 2012, 7:24 pm

    Isn’t it possible to interpret that Samantha is also starting to have allucinations or starting to believe him?

  • george hartselle May 6, 2012, 11:01 pm

    Nice job by most of you here with analyzing the ending. I believe the ending symbolized the wife finally understanding her husband’s psychological plight as was suggested that the author intended. How about Curtis’s fear of ending up like his mother and leaving his family and then solving this problem by locking himself and his family in the shelter ? Would this not indicate psychopathology and not a prophet state where he could not leave when finally overcome by his illness. Truly great film with many fantastic camera set ups. I particularly liked the shot of symmetrical reflected lights framing Curtis after he melts down in the presence of townsfolk at the community dinner. So much to praise about the film…..and I begin to ramble. Thanks Adam for the opportunity to vent. I just watched the film with my 18 year old daughter and she was disapointed that the producers didn’t demand several million dollars of CGI depicting the apocolyptic storm.
    George

    • Adam May 10, 2012, 11:00 am

      Your welcome George, this discussion really took on a life of its own. I enjoy reading everyone’s different interpretations of the film, and many people have studied it much more intently than I ever could.

  • Mike DeLeon May 7, 2012, 12:01 am

    I just finished watching this, the ending to me symbolized that he was indeed crazy. Kind of like the saying “you’re known by the company you keep”, his family started to believe just as he did.

    Or maybe it was his family realizing his illness at the end, and the fact his wife says “okay”. Like now she understands he is truly ill. I love movies that leave the ending open to interpretation the way Take Shelter has.

  • Galit Marks May 8, 2012, 8:28 pm

    I thought that this movie was absolutely amazing and had a lot of symbolism pretaining to what is going on in this country. This was not a literal storm but a metaphorical storm that is brewing in our country. The constant talk of money, mental disorders, insurance companies, banks, family, and oil are topics that are under debate in the United States and could be the potential collapse of our country. I know it sounds radical but here is my rational:

    1) Right before the main character crashes his car there is a figure in a lab coat blocking his way=our healthcare system is blocking us from progressing.
    2) The daughter gets ripped out of the car=our future generation is in danger
    3)Wife looks at knife in dream=in the face of financial ruin and our economy at present, suicide rates have increased
    4)The rain is black like oil=a omen of what could happen if we keep polluting our planet
    5)Husband is watching news about a chlorine spill that killed a whole family and the wife isn’t listening=people don’t want to hear/listen whats going on in the country and the daughter who is deaf symbolizes this also.
    6)Rain/Suffocating=drowning in debt, etc.
    7)When main character is looking up books about schizophrenia in library, there is a book titled “Mad in America”=Americans are stressed to the max because we are overworked and have many financial issues related to insurance/homes, etc. but we are told to take medication to fix our problems
    8)Family is eating dinner together and doesn’t even look at each other=breakdown of family unit
    9)Doctor doesn’t listen to main characters problems and prescribes medication=The belief that everything can be fixed by a pill
    10)Lady is a fighting with insurance company to get surgery approved=Americans are fighting to get the healthcare that they need
    11)Main character goes to pick up meds and is shocked to hear is co-pay=the cost of healthcare is expensive
    12)Main character takes meds and has a panic attack next day=the medication doesn’t truly help the problem
    13)When the main character goes to visit his mom, she states that her schizophrenia started when she became stressed out and she feels that people are watching her=big brother is watching us
    14)Main character fills up gas and can’t believe how expensive gas is=rising gas prices and drilling for oil
    15)when in the bank, the employee states that banks rarely give out loans and when they do, the interest rates are high=the bank bail outs and no loans for new businesses
    16) In the end, the wife states that the way to fix everything is to get two jobs, extend the insurance policy, to go to a pyschiatrist=Americans believing that doing all this is going to prevent the inevitable.

    In conclusion, when they go to the beach and pretend that everything is okay…they see it is not. The daughter starts to listen/hear and the wife finally see’s, but it is too late. The storm followed them and there is no shelter that is going to save them from the inevitable storm…….So do I sound like a schizophrenic too or does this make sense lol?

    • george hartselle May 18, 2012, 12:51 pm

      I thought you made alot of sense and the symbolic nature of the movie was, at times truly overwhelming. It would be hard to believe that such an outstanding director just accidently filmed these things coincidentally symbolic or directly related to our country today..

  • LeftCoast May 11, 2012, 12:13 am

    There are many interesting takes presented here on the movie’s ending, as it is with many great films. Tarantino’s gotten a ton of mileage off of what exactly was in Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase in Pulp Fiction…right? I’m glad to have happened onto your blog.

    Whether it’s correct or not, my initial impression was that the storm was indeed actually happening. In the previous scene Curtis had finally given himself over to his psychosis, with the support of Samantha and the guidance of the movie’s main “authority figure”(mentioned at least three times), the almost-unattainable shrink. Remember, the first part of solving problems such as these is admitting that you are powerless to control them. Well at the end they see the storm, and they know several things all at once; Curtis is in fact not psychotic, the storm is upon them, and there’s no sense freaking out about it, because they’re not getting out of this alive. They nod to each other, Sam in apology and Curtis accepting it as if saying, “Don’t sweat it babe; I wouldn’t have believed me either.” Of course the irony was that had they accepted and continued acting on his visions instead of buying into the “pro from Dover’s (old M*A*S*H reference)” suggestion that they go on this last vacation before in-patient treatment, they would have been safe at home.

    This movie did get screwed by the Academy…and some (keeping a straight face) tell me the Artist was Best Picture; what a crock.

  • Andres May 13, 2012, 9:37 pm

    He’s on vacation on Tampa or near to the gulf ( that’s why of the oil rain ) and there is a tsunami coming. =) He saw the end. Shit i live in Tampa.

  • T1Brit May 14, 2012, 6:23 am

    The ending is absolutely the confirmation that the guy was not crazy at all and in fact was having a premonition. It is done right at the very end as a treat/punishment for all those who had glumly accepted his diagnoses as schitzo. It is not just an ordinary storm that is approaching. it is something much more sinister. Not only is yellow rain falling ( what could that be in the rain? I am guessing it isn’t lemonade ) But if you look closely you will see there is a giant tsunami-like wave coming in too, and there are two clear sources of the great cloud coming from the horizon. This is meant to suggest something very nasty, and big and poisonous coming your way. It could be anything. Take your pick. He was right all along. What a great movie.

  • T1Brit May 14, 2012, 6:47 am

    P.S. – Another forum poster has pointed out that the ending also explains the scene where she is all wet and looks around her at the knife in the kitchen. It is symbolic. It was her idea for them to go to the coast – that is where they die – by drowning. Hence the knife symbol – she has killed them all.

  • Dreamer May 14, 2012, 9:47 am

    I believe that Curtis had visions of an upcoming disaster. I think at the end the vision became a reality. My thoughts are does he have time to get back to his shelter before the efforts of the rain destroy his as well as his families minds? If only he could have stayed instead of going on vacation they would have been safe. I need closure so my ending is that he and his family are able to make it back home before the effects of the rain reach them. Then they wait out the storm in the shelter while others try to break in. After the storm they have to be on guard for anyone that would try to harm or kill them. Or if they are attack they will become zombies like the rest of the world. End of story!

  • StephLadder May 14, 2012, 11:21 am

    Just watched… terrific performances all around – especially Michael Shannon! I loved the ending because Jeff Nichols gave us two very valid ‘reader’s choices’, so to speak. Yes, it could have very well been Curtis’s dream/nightmare. And, Yes, it could have been very well an actual ‘extinct’ event – and Curtis being the ‘profit’ – proving to all the skeptics that he was right all along (and, of course, they all died on the beach.) The Bonnie and Clyde ending ‘glance’ between Curtis and Sam suggests the latter. But that’s why I really enjoyed the movie! Two endings! It doesn’t get better than that! ;-)

  • Alex May 15, 2012, 12:05 am

    This was a great movie for starters.
    As for my interpretation I believe at the core of this story its a tale of a mans struggle with the onslaught of mental illness. Now the director uses this story to also post social commentary as well.
    For example: the oil raining from the sky probably entails our dependency on foreign oil and eventually everyone who sounds crazy about getting away from it will look like profits in th eyes of their doubters as an inevitable storm is coming.
    I also feel the the daughter being deaf is a symbol of her innocence, as she is the only child shown in the movie for more than 3 seconds.

    I believe the three dreams have double meanings, one to be interpreted from Curtis’s perspective and one to be interpreted from the audiences perspective of the films overall meaning.
    The dog dream is confusin, so I’m skipping it.
    The second dream is about him avoiding his mothers mental illness and the possibility that he will be left in a truck all alone because of her once again. This is important because Curtis tells us this in the counseling sequence. I also feel that we as an audience can take away that his daughter was being stolen by society and it’s corruption/ ignorance. That’s somewhat of a stretch but still is social commentary worth discussing.

    I like the theory about chastains stitching and holding the family together and then having the knife and cutting it apart. Curtiss’s reoccurring fear is being torn away from his family like his mom did to herself.

    The third dream is not shown but told, therefore we aren’t left with anything to interpret other than what the director tells us and that is that duart is some Curtis doesn’t trust duart to understand his illness which comes to fruition at the cook off when it’s obvious duart told everyone and how he doesn’t have any remorse for doing it.

    The ending is the acceptance he gets from his family and that they will tackle the storm together. Notice that Curtis is no longer scared of the large unknown storm aka mental illness.

    So to conclude, this movie is about the struggles one man must go through upon discovering he has a mental illness. Its ending lets the audience no that no matter what storm maybe coming, sticking together and accepting the problems to come are important. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the director has someone very close to him that has a mental illness. The amount of respect shown to the main character points to this. It’s also ok to take small social commentary out of this film as well, but it is not the forefront but merely symbolism of a murky future one must go through when discovering the unknown.

    Excuse my horrible grammar and if I stole any points people made. I’m on my iPad and editing is tough.

    • vinster May 31, 2012, 2:08 am

      with all due respect….its hard to belive anything that you just said about his movie….but intresting

  • ROLF May 20, 2012, 10:43 am

    Have the inclination that this movie was more a social commentary on media induced paranoia rather than a personal one. A few of the above comments may just confirm this…

    With Curtis an ‘average Joe’ American, being bombarded with pending Apocalyptic doom / financial / personal health / environmental / chemical (fluoride conspiracy) / peak oil production (his job as a driller / engine OIL raining from above) / biblical prophesies (not seen at Sunday service) / aliens (levitating furniture ??? maybe a stretch I know but…) / community distrust (terrorism) and even a hint zombie-’ism’ just to add to the fun of it all… Sound fami liar?

    His kid being ‘deaf’ was more about her age and innocence, whilst the men of science and insurance wanted to ‘right’ this. In many cases she was at the epicenter of these ‘dreams’, and maybe was what Curtis was really trying to protect against.

    Surly that’s enough to drive man schitzo and bury themselves in the garden or if your budget will stretch, a deluxe condo in an ex ICBM missile silo…

    With all that being said, he ended up missing the ‘real danger’ and placed his family in a inescapable situation, whilst building impermanent castles in the sand.

    The storm is already upon us folks.
    So don’t forget to…. DUCK n COVER !

    Curtis at the roadside –
    “is anybody else seeing this”…..

  • Victorsounds May 25, 2012, 6:59 pm

    For me this film is about the paranoia. The fear that a lot of people have after bad things happened, like tsunamis, wars, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, violence, economic crises, etc… And in the ending everybody got into this paranoia. Is a film about our time and how a lot of us are feeling and reacting about it. And everybody can be affected by this, like the deaf girl, for me she represents the people who don`t want to listen, or can not listen, or don`t care, but everybody are involved and there is no way to scape.

  • daniel May 28, 2012, 10:46 pm

    I am in line with option #2, and that he is just gone completely crazy. Remember before the scene on the beach he is with the psychiatrists and he says that medication will start immediately, and remember even when he was on medication, things got worse and worse and worse. He said that he has to be away from the family and he just incorporates his family into his mind with them believing and seeing the same things he is.

  • vinster May 31, 2012, 1:57 am

    im not saying i disagree with you all but the thing that throw me way oof is th yellow rain that they both experiance……or is that what happens when a tsunami comes……please give me feedback on this

  • vinster May 31, 2012, 2:00 am

    oh and please someone tell me if he wasent crazy….. how do the dreams reflect to the details that happen in reality…….please someone find an anwser

  • tnjsom June 1, 2012, 8:18 pm

    Thanks for being here…I just finished the movie and logged on to help figure out what others thought about the ending. There are some smart comments on this list. I agree with many who say that the ending is a sort of resolution that comes with the recognition, acceptance and support of Curtis’s mental illness. Curtis knows that he’s sick, but in the end is assured that his family is not going to leave him and they will make it through any upheavals together. One thing to add is that the last storm, although approaching, doesn’t hit, but it’s “out there” nonetheless; his illness also is constantly on the horizon, and could strike again, so caution must always be taken. He’s got to take his meds, be understanding and be understood and do whatever he needs to treat his illness and keep it at bay–but it will always be a threatening factor in their lives, whether they’re on the coast or in the mid-west or above a fault-line. Tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes–all these are catastrophic natural destroyers. Schizophrenia is the most catastrophic of mental/spiritual destruction.

    • Adam June 2, 2012, 10:03 am

      Your welcome Tnjsom. So happy that we have provided a forum for people to discuss this film.

      • Adam June 2, 2012, 10:04 am

        Just so everyone knows we have a whole site filled with film discussion, movie reviews, trailers and other cinema related articles. You can check it out her at http://3guys1movie.com/

  • Eric June 2, 2012, 12:05 pm

    Just wanted to say that it’s so awesome to see people still talking about this movie’s ending on here. Reading through some of these comments has made me want to rewatch this sooner rather than later. Any movie that can stir up this kind of discussion is pretty damn good in my book.

    • Adam June 2, 2012, 12:36 pm

      It is sort of crazy, only post we have written so far that sort of broke through to the non-blogging folks. I really loved Take Shelter and still think it got shafted awards wise.

  • C.L.DeMedeiros June 2, 2012, 12:38 pm

    I saw yesterday
    I’m believe he had premonitions
    and when finely he had the real thing coming
    he didn’t have shelter to take protection, the only good thing
    was having Samantha finely too, realize her husband was a very special guy.
    ( I got nightmares because is a very intriguing plot do not watch and go to bed )

    ;-)

    Carlos Luis

  • geno June 2, 2012, 1:45 pm

    Just watched it last night. It was one of those movies I went in seeing without know anything about it at all. It was a slow build up to a great ending. If you want a movie that’s right in your face and you can watch without having any brain cells in your head, skip this one. The development of the characters is very important…sit back in your recliner, pop a beer and let the story unfold.

  • Karen June 2, 2012, 3:48 pm

    The End came. I knew this movie was going to leave me hanging. Great movie, sucky ending :-(

  • Raynell June 3, 2012, 12:13 pm

    The ending was his worst fear coming true. His fear was for him and his daughter not to be in shelter when the storm came. Notice in the movie he separated himself from every person that he had a dream about. The ONLY person he had a dream about, and he did NOT separate himself from was his WIFE. She was the one who also told him to open the door when he wasn’t ready too. She also suggested that they go to the coast when the money supposed to be for there bills. So when they are at the beach they all die, because of her. Just like he dreamed about her all wet in the kitchen looking toward the knife. He was torn between 3 things. Being like his mom, leaving his family, and not being prepared for the storm. Because he said he felt the worst things about the dreams was the feeling. He was stressed about his life, because his friend basically told him he admired him for having his life together. His life became stressful once he started having these dreams. This story reminds a lot of Noah’s Ark. Hence the fight scene where he warns people in the town a out the storm.

  • Archi June 5, 2012, 12:09 am

    I don’t get it, why leave a perfect story incomplete like that. I think it’s just lack of assertiveness as a story teller to draw your audience into a story and leave the ending up to the viewer to decide. I love the movie. The acting is superb and the directing is magnificent, everything works to make you understand and feel the despair and anguish the main character experiences. But why leave the ending open to discussion? Either he’s redeemed at the end or he isn’t. I was actually ok with the idea that the ending was him just playing at the beach with his daughter. I actually choked up watching him play with his daughter, because the one constant throughout the movie was the love and support of his family and how strong those bonds were.

    • Faun June 7, 2012, 11:31 am

      Why leave it open for interpretation? Because we are capable of abstract thought?

      I think it’s interesting that so many people take the ending literally. I wonder how many of them also take the bible literally?

      • Adam June 7, 2012, 2:05 pm

        I think I read about 46% of Americans ;-)

  • fixxin2 June 6, 2012, 2:05 am

    Just finished watching Take Shelter on-demand and I’m still trying to decide what was real and what wasn’t throughout this amazing film. However I wanted to mention something about the vacation. At the beginning of the movie Curtis told his wife to “just write a check” for the beach rental. That would explain how they could afford to go because it was already paid for. And if the vacation was real perhaps the tsunami was as well. Then again…

  • Rod June 12, 2012, 10:15 pm

    Premonitions of an “inverted Noah???”
    Ooo, pole shift taking place??? Birds acting crazy, magnetic anomalies, tsunamis, water spouts, tornadoes, unbridled storms, “end of the world” stuff. Can’t explain “motor oil” for rain or his need for gas masks…
    The dream of his wife wet in the kitchen; camera focused on knife. Not sure what that symbolizes other than her resistence to his behavior. Possibly turning on him and attacking him as well ala best friend attacking him with a pickaxe and injuring his leg in a dream.

  • Mackie June 14, 2012, 1:53 pm

    So after reading all of these posts about the ending I’m going to stick with my original belief about the ending. He is indeed a storm whisperer. No, in all seriousness he is a very ill man who wants to get help because he loves his family and does not want to leave them. But I think there really was just a storm at the end.

  • Be Prepared June 15, 2012, 9:25 am

    In all of Curtis’ dream sequences, he is in an extreme state of anxiety and has some sort of violence that is threatening him. In the ending, Curtis is completely calm and is engaged in playing with his daughter. If the ending where a dream sequence, you would think that again Curtis would be in the same state and would have been the first to notice the impending storm in a similar fashion as the previous dreams. The fact that his daughter is the first to notice and moves to provide warning is meant to help the viewer see the disparity of the previous scenes to know that this is reality.

    Nothing is lost in the value of this quiet and multi-layered film with allowing the ending to be a confirmation of the viewer’s hope that this seemingly crazy man is actually right. Like any good film, it is open to interpretation. I personally could see this film as a documentary of how difficult is for one person to stand up for their beliefs with all the world seeing things entirely from a different place. A great film…

  • Joe Johnston June 16, 2012, 6:09 pm

    I believe #3 is the intended ending. Curtis is Noah and no one would listen to him, just as reported about Noah. People thought he was crazy for building an ark (liken to the dinner scene). SPOILER ALERT – STOP READING IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE ‘FRAILTY.’ The movie ‘Frailty’ functioned much in this way. You think the guy is crazy all the way up until the end when he eludes capture by the sheriff who has him in hand cuffs.

  • Harper June 17, 2012, 10:40 pm

    I agree with those who think the ending is another dream- but one in which he’s is on the way to recovery. The storm was symbolic of his madness and the people attacking him were himself (they all looked like mental patients in hospital gowns). However, the signs of his madness were all reactions to the dreams themselves.

  • jj June 18, 2012, 8:44 pm

    After reading these posts and thinking about the movie, my first thought was a real storm descended on them at the end. Then I started to think about the title, Take Shelter. Was this a warning to us? Or was it just a metaphor for the family’s struggle to deal with mental illness? I believe that protagonist was going insane, knew it but couldn’t stop it. The dream sequences are not really related, indicating the irrational thoughts of a person who just wasn’t rational. The end of the movie was very dreamlike and surreal. Therefore, it was just another irrational thought of a man who had lost sanity. The title Take Shelter was just a way for the family to find protection from the mental illness that was going to destroy their family. The wife and daughter needed shelter to protect themselves from the husband/father’s irrational behavior. The husband needed the shelter of medication to save him from madness. His dreams/nightmares were manifestations of a man who was losing or lost the ability to think rationally. That is why the dreams were disconnected and lacked explanation. I do think the use of the color red made for some interesting co-incidences.

  • some dude June 18, 2012, 9:57 pm

    wow…film ending was a little weak. Just saw it on demand. some text!

    For me, this was a film about American marriage. If anyone wants to know what its like to be married in America, Take Shelter is it.

    Everything in the film was a marriage stress, and that stress was very real. I think its present in all marriages, to some degree. Certainly not every husband suffers from mental disorders (especially right away :) ). The fact that Curtis had bad dreams was a fun thing to think about but I did not see it as pivotal to the film. More important scenes to me were his bed wetting, his reaction to his wife’s touch, his commitment to family.

    What was pivotal was Curtis did things without telling his wife. A theme of the movie, besides how women are perfect, is that is that no man is perfect and that every husband has a vice. Curtis’s vice happened to be building pretty ridiculous shelters. Look at the risky behavior–bad loan, got fired from work. This was not his disease, as his boss points out. It was him.

    Note how there was a focus on the original shelter bench.

    Another theme of the movie, for me, was family, and the importance. Curtis sits on the bench for the first time, it’s uncomfortable. It’s scratched, it’s worn. The cellar looks like dungeon prison cell! ah, what a wonderful way for his vice to manifest itself! I need to satisfy my vice, and I’ll do it because it will improve the quality of their life.

    How does marriage survive stress? By communicating, as Curtis eventually does. By understanding and selflessness — curtis changed the sheets. Curtis supported his wife’s desires about church (though he does not go) and the Lion’s club dinner. And his wife indulged Curtis’s vice…descending with him into the shelter, by selfless standing by her man. Dance with thems who brung yah, as the old saying goes!

    The ending is both dream and reality. I take my cue based on the sound, whenever curtis has a mental break there is a specific bell tone. The final scene has both bell tone and real instruments.

    The reality is that Curtis and his wife are on the same page…the fantasy or the dream is the stress.

    How does a marriage survive any disaster? any stress? by coming together, by agreeing that there is an issue, and without speaking, taking a course of action.

    of course this is just one angle, one read, and does not invalidate the other reads. this was in my mind the directors intent, to permit multiple ‘real’ ‘fantasy’ ‘dream’ reads. However, I personally feel it is an overused plot device and prefer a few more clues to cause my mind to settle in a given direction. If I want to make up my own ending i’ll turn the movie off half way through :)

    As such I felt like the ending didn’t really matter, that the real ending was Curtis seeing the shrink. This was his wifes desire and showed his commitment. Just as easily he could have refused treatment. So I saw the last scene ‘as mostly a fun way to wrap up the story…it was a happy ending: curtis and his wife both saw the storm…real…or…imagined….together.

  • Dave June 19, 2012, 2:38 pm

    I was very anxious to see this film after seeing the trailer some time ago. I finally watched it on Blu-ray last night and, at first, I was disappointed. There were points I starting talking to the screen saying “C’mon already!” Is it possible that I have brain-washed by Hollywood to expect certain elements in a film? Yeah, probably. This was a slow-moving picture for sure, but I think that’s part of it’s beauty. You can tell you’ve watched a pretty good movie when you really start thinking about it the next day, which I have certainly been doing. I’ve read a good deal of the posts here on this page and was very intrigued by all educated guesses at what really happened at the ending. I can really see it happening both ways (dream or reality), and now I’m mad I already mailed it back to Netflix because I think it deserves a 2nd viewing.

    I seem to be leaning towards the dream ending as some have speculated. I think when the characters of Samantha and Hannah “see” what Curtis has been seeing, that this is all symbolic of Curtis on the path of healing and they are joining him. One thing I struggle with though is that Hannah is the one who sees the big storm first. So is she the first to “see” what her daddy is going through? This could be a minute point, but I thought it might be worth mentioning. Seems more plausible that Samantha would “see” first. But, for me, the key was really when Samantha says “ok” and acknowledges what they are dealing with. There did not seem to be a panic, which in the face of an Armageddon-type storm such as the one depicted on screen, you would think they’d be running for the hills. The looks on their faces said it all. I saw fear, but I also saw resolve, and it seemed to be the more dominant emotion.

    Overall, this movie probably could have been a little shorter, and perhaps it could have explained things a better, but then would we still be talking about it?

  • Wendy L. Evans June 20, 2012, 4:32 am

    Curtis was never crazy, he was psychic.. In the end, the storms came & everything he saw came true.

  • Roger June 20, 2012, 10:18 am

    I need to watch this movie again, but I think that the storm was real at the end and all of his dreams were actually premonitions of things that take place after the storm hits. If you watch the final scene again, the first thing you see at the beach is the birds. Then you hear them for the whole scene, until just before Hannah looks up, and then you don’t hear them again. The birds had already left because of the approaching storm. I think this does away with the thought that this was the family “seeing his illness”. If that was the case, then why have the birds there in the first place? Did anyone else notice that?

    The looks between Samantha and Curtis are calm, because they were both halfway expecting the storm to actually hit and it took them a while for the realization that Curtis was right to sink in. That’s my two cents anyway. Either way, the movie was great.

  • ry June 21, 2012, 9:48 pm

    3rd option as well but check this out:
    possibility 1: the storm is real but Curtis is still crazy, thus implying he will have severe difficulty overcoming his problems in treatment after such an accurate and prophetic prediction. I see this as kind of a tragic ending. The music is a big signifier to this powerful message.
    possibility 2: The wife sees Curtis’s dreadful stare at the horizon, experiences a sharp emotional breakdown, and finally decides to “go along with” Curtis’ insane thoughts, avoiding further emotional turmoil. The storm is not real, but the dramatic change in Curtis has made it ultimately very ‘real’ in his family’s traumatized consciousness.
    possibility 3: The simple explanation would be that the storm is real, the entire family sees it, and Curtis is indeed a prophet and was right all along.

  • myke June 21, 2012, 11:02 pm

    I have read every comment on here…..conclusion: the ending is in fact real!……..when curtis and his family are down in that storm shelter…then after the storm passes and he opens the doors to find that nothing “big” has really happened….he is accepting the fact that nothing has happened…that he is going to need help…..and everyone that watched the movie up until this point has accepted the same…..now comes the twist….with amazing music by donnie wingo in the background, that gives us all goosebumps no matter how many times you have watched the movie…..how could it not be real?

  • Tranzition Zoner June 22, 2012, 10:52 pm

    I believe the ending is meant to be open ended, however it is a confirmation of Curtis’s worst fears. The storm symbolizes any apocalyptic event. Curtis does not know what form this will take, whether it be pandemic, peak oil, or otherwise. References to various alternatives appear in the film. He also doesn’t know how long it will last -is it just a tornado, or will he need to take shelter for many days. He questions his own sanity yet believes in his vision. He finally accepts the word of authority – the psychiatrist which I believe is the personification of the predominant zeitgeist of the day (everything is fine, you are crazy). As soon as he accepts this, his psychosis is proven true, and finally his family sees what he has seen. The story is not about true psychosis or true prophecy, but simply about how an otherwise rational man can be perceived by all, including himself, as irrational when trying to prepare for a terrible future which by all indications to himself, is coming but which he cannot truly believe in because it is unknowable and because there is a distinct possibility he is insane. It is a perfect allegory for the time we live in with peak oil, climate change, etc. vying for legitimacy in a world which has never known such catastrophe and cannot accept it as reality. I believe the take home message of this film is as simple as the title; “take shelter”, a storm is coming. You can’t predict it, but you can feel it.

  • Mike S. June 23, 2012, 5:38 pm

    I just figured the ending was a setup for a sequel. Take Shelter was a B+ movie for me, and to be honest I was a little disappointed with the ending. It was the only “cheap shot” in the entire movie, and took away from a thought provoking journey into a man’s fall into mental illness. An American audience can’t watch something tragic and just let it be; they require “entertainment” to go home on a high note. The rest of the movie was solid and moving (even disturbing at times), but the ending was just fun time. Like watching 2012. That sort of thing just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the film, or with the seriousness of everything the film built up to.

    The dream sequences, involving unrational behavior, violence, and a falling sensation (remember the furniture scene?)… those are a spectacular display of what it must really feel like to experience what the lead actor was feeling.

    So I choose to omit the Hollywood ending from my mental version of the film. Mine ends where the father learns he must be institutionalized, and (knowing full well what that means because of his mother’s experience), his only words are “I have to be away from my family?” A true tragedy, and that’s ok.

  • LisaFordBlog.com June 24, 2012, 12:52 am

    I HATE films with open endings. Especially films based on mental illness. I don’t watch films for the purpose of interpreting what I believe the director was thinking. Who gives a sh*t about the director? I care about the characters in this film, and this case, the idiot director had me sitting for 2 whole hours for a pointless experiment. I am livid right now because I needed to sleep, but no, I stayed awake to see what happens to this main character. This movie sucks!! And I totally understand why it didn’t win an Oscar. Superb job by the actors, but the ending destroyed the whole experience for me.

  • douchequat June 25, 2012, 1:17 am

    I think this movie was a festering turd.
    It is pointless to create all the drama & suspense if it is all pointless. Like a reviewer above, I think scenes like the truck accident where Hannah was snatched out of the truck cab by attackers was a gratuitous & pointless addition, much like cuss words or nudity that do not relate to the scene…

    so much crap that was pointless to the story, and the crap ending with no definite end.. Some people call that “thought-provoking” or “artistic”… I call it crap.

    THis movie was SOOOOooooooooooooooo long. THe excess crap could have been cut out, and it could have been a decent 70 minute film, albeit a better ending.

  • douchequat June 25, 2012, 1:18 am

    Did I mention that I thought it was Crap??

    Oh, I did..??

    Ok.

  • Dean G June 30, 2012, 2:38 pm

    You all need to see the film THE LAST WAVE.

    Then reconsider the very real, literal ending.

    He didn’t have mental illness. He had two symptoms out of five. And those two turned out to be actual prophetic visions.

    His visions change as his actions change though out the film, but unfortunately the very real end comes when he is far from his shelter.

  • Fogsmoviereviews July 6, 2012, 12:31 pm

    Holy god, Eric wasn’t kidding, huh? I posted about this movie yesterday and referred me over here to see the discussion.

    BOOOOOOM. :D This one caught on pretty good, eh?

    I dont know what to make of it. Kloipy pointed out to me that his wife reacts to the rain at the end of the movie, and no one in any of the dream sequences previously do that. The implication being that its not a dream, but reality.

    In which case, that would make Shannon’s character more of a prophet and less of a psycho.

    • scottydynamite July 6, 2012, 1:07 pm

      Yeah this post has taken on a life of it’s own. It is our only post on the top of most search engines so that drives the traffic in. I think it was reality also and I am honestly amazed at how much hub bub this movie has caused, I mean it was decent but in my opinion not incredible but as you see from many of the posts above people loved this film.

    • Adam July 12, 2012, 9:18 am

      Fogs, I am shocked it too you this long to see this film. Now you just have to watch Moonrise Kingdom ;-)

  • Phil July 7, 2012, 6:28 pm

    May I be so bold as to take the two pervasive camps in this comment string and combine them both? Could it be that both of the interpretations we mainly discuss here are correct? That the film is commentary on a terrifying and literal end that is quickly approaching; that there are everyday Joes out there which most think are crazy, but in the end do see the storm clearly? As well as a terrible glimpse into how we are driving ourselves into a state of mental illness trying to protect those closest to us from the storms we perceive as coming. In the end all that really matters is family, not friends, not animals, not the advice of experts…only the time we have left. In the end “castles in the sand melt into the sea” no matter what those castles may be; and in a sense everything except us and those around us are the castles. Reality is constantly changing and evolving and open to our interpretation. We all stand, in one form or another, on the edge between prescience and madness. That is the nature of modern life and the future of humanity……..in the very very end no one makes it out of life alive no matter how much we prepare. Its pretty obvious that the directors intent was purposefully convoluted because that is the terrifying nature of our existential reality in today’s world……………..or all this academic stuff could be wrong and, as I told my wife, the director could just be making a statement about how when men listen to their wives and “experts” instead of their instincts they end up being destroyed (she is the only premonition he ignored) ;).

  • John July 13, 2012, 10:02 pm

    I have a three part comment. First, I think the ending of the movie was disappointing and the director took the lazy and indecisive way out. He committed to an ending then changed his mind in the last minute.

    Second, not enough people have commented in the fact that many of the dreams ended with him suffocating as if drowning. I would like to think this ending is real and wish the director had put more time into it. And if it is, the tsunami would no doubt drown his entire family. On a side note, building the helper would not have been a waste of time. Since the whole town and his brother knew about it I bet it could help many people out if the “end-of-the-world-storm” did stretch farther west.

    Thirdly, I also think the ending is just a recognition that the whole family is seeing the mental illness storm of the father together. And to respond to one of the above comments, the medicine he originally reacted to was not a treatment or schizophrenia, but was a mild sedative and he took 3x the dosage recommended by the doctor.

    Definitely great performances overall and good to see some people hashing out things here the director should have before he started filming.

  • gina July 14, 2012, 4:39 pm

    This is a fascinating modern day Noah story…of sorts. I tend to lean toward the ending in which he believes he is crazy & finally resolved to go into treatment, after returning from his beach vacation with his wife & daughter. Then to realize and have confirmed by them that he is not crazy afterall and that this mega storm premonition was and is indeed a reality. Knowing there is now no safe harbor/storm cellar to run to is the most catostrophic realization of all. The message here is dare to listen to your intuition, premonitions in spite of the naysayers & persecutors and like Noah, it may save lives.

  • Cathy Elcik July 14, 2012, 10:07 pm

    I’m not normally a fan of ambiguous endings, but this isn’t your traditional isn’t-this-writer-so-clever ending. This ending follows one of the most tenderly gritty portraits of mental illness I have ever seen. And it follows after the stunning scene in the storm cellar where Curtis’s family descends into the movie’s symbol of his madness. As a family they face off against the madness to climb to ground high enough that treatment is an option. The shrink is clear that while a trip to the beach is fine,there’s a long road ahead after he returns. The monster storm at the end that everybody sees is Curtis’s illness–perhaps a metaphor for a breakdown on vacation–and the nodding between Curtis and his wife is a confirmation that she will stand by him. Ultimately, I’m not sure that the Myrtle Beach ending adds anything to the beauty of the emerging from the storm cellar, but it certainly got people talking!

  • Hernan July 19, 2012, 1:32 am

    There is one thing I am not clear on. If the storm was coming off the shore of Myrtle Beach, which is in South Carolina, how was it to reach them in Ohio? Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, Curtis’ dreams were to warn him that the storm was going to hit while they were on Myrtle Beach but Curtis misinterpreted the dreams and thought the storm was coming to Ohio.

  • molly lien July 19, 2012, 5:54 am

    He is paranoid schizo….(spelling) and folks with this disorder do not have the same blocks against outside info as normal folks do…..they are basically extremely telepathic BUT get confused how to read the signals…because it is all too much coming at them…so YES he has the disorder…BUT he was also RIGHT….the storm WAS coming…and coming BIG.

  • Gogo July 23, 2012, 6:21 pm

    So funny–I read thru 3 months worth of comments and ms. Molly is the only person who interpreted this story as I did. The mystery throughout is whether he’s crazy or prophetic (or both). The erratic dreams are full of vague symbolism to prolong the intrigue (and provoke thought). The attacks by loved ones–including the family pet–were, to me, the storyteller’s hint of true paranoia; the mother’s disease was was confirmation (schizophrenia has strong genetic component). But what I found myself wondering as plot unfolded was if the mental illness made him more sensitive to the paranormal and possibly susceptible to psychic visions. Wouldn’t be the first movie to deal with this subject (and experience reported by many individuals in reality as well). To me, the ending was vindication for Curtis that his mental illness allowed only him to see the truth. The fact that the little girl saw the storm first was clue that it was real. I also felt early on that everytime the beach was mentioned was a foreshadowing that the storm would happen there (as well as the water in the dreams and his gasping for breath upon waking). When I saw them on the beach, I thought, “here we go…”

  • Corinth July 28, 2012, 4:35 pm

    Great movie, the entire thing was haunting. I am leaning towards the ending being real in the context of the film, and Curtis being sane. It can be explained by the way my dog acts when a massive storm is about to hit, she goes looney and does weird stuff that she never usually does. The movie made me wonder how much our instincts or reactions to climate phenomena are recognized as mental instability; maybe Noah just had a extremely sensitive inner ear?!? Anyway, great movie, it made me muse over it for a long time, I’d say that is a winner.

  • Jesse July 29, 2012, 6:22 am

    The big question I have about the ending, since I’m pretty convinced that it is in fact real, is whether or not they survived. It would be pretty ironic if he spent all that time making the shelter and then wasn’t able to save his family. I’m not sure what the message would be if that’s the case. Should we just not bother worrying about the future, since you can’t really predict when and where things are going to go wrong?

    To give my take on someone’s previous post about the meaning of his other visions, I think they HAD to be that extreme involving harm to himself and his family or he wouldn’t have taken them seriously. If he just dreamed about a bad storm, he probably would have ignored it and the whole film wouldn’t have made any sense. He had to be freakin’ scared to set up the shelter in the first place.

  • Shane July 29, 2012, 7:59 am

    Before the final storm, doesn’t he fill in the sand castle moat with water? I took that as strong symbolism of him locking the ‘storm’ in his mind. He hallucinates the final storm, but the calmness shows he has accepted his condition. His family not going crazy as the rain comes down is his acceptance that he won’t lose his daughter and wife to it. As long as the family unit is tight things will survive.

    If the director did mean for the storm to be real it’d be a pretty cheap Outer Limits cliche. Plus I hate lazy religious connotations; I’m looking at you Matrix 3.

  • Shane July 29, 2012, 8:10 am

    Or, alternatively, filling in the moat is him locking himself away from everything. Essentially wholing up in an imaginary castle. What happens afterwards is all hallucination. He’s calm because he finds sanctuary in the storm coming. He was right. It’s over. There’s nothing to worry about any more. Acceptance of his (imagined) fate, if you will.

    As for the dog dream, memory tells me this one happens first or at least early on. The dreams then happen in hierarchy. First change takes his friends and dog, then begins to take his family away from him. They’re violent in context to be claustrophobic and powerful enough to have symbolic purpose in the film. Dreams are visually compact and exaggerated. Fear of hurt/being attacked is also fundamental to us all.

    And finally, please remember that Noah is a character in a story. Him and the Ark weren’t real.

  • DeeDee July 29, 2012, 10:51 am

    For me, the main question of the movie was, is he really going crazy or not. He built the shelter for a “storm” but when one passed over it did little damage. Then they end up on the coast and a huge apocalyptic tsunami/storm is coming. So, no he wasn’t crazy, but he ‘misread’ his visions. It’s kind of like Cate Blanchett in The Gift–she saw symbols and sign that were accurate, but not easy to put together to say definitively what happened, and her accuracy was only evident in retrospect.

  • JustThrowinItOutThere July 29, 2012, 6:52 pm

    I’m not sure if someone already took a shot at it this way, but we’re sitting here pondering the possibilities after sitting, mouths wide open, at the final scene.

    Something I was remarking on through the movie was that the main character tells no one of his dreams, not even his wife or good friend. I’m thinking he immediately jumps to the conclusion that he could potentially be schizophrenic like his mother. He seems to feel shame about his mothers condition being that he, nor his brother often visit, and they seem awkward. He doesn’t want people looking at him the same.

    The mother was taken away from her family. The main character feared having the same done to him. Perhaps his efforts in building the storm shelter was his last grasp at hope that he could be right about the coming storm. That he was a prophet and not going crazy. When the ‘mild’ storm came and he had trouble looking outside, perhaps it was because he didn’t want physical real proof that the storm wasn’t what his mind made it out to be. The storm being symbolic of mental illness (if I hadn’t already said that lol).

    Sorry I’m scattered here, this may be hard to follow.

    Main goal – doesn’t want to end up like his mother, torn away from family with children ashamed of the situation. Holds on to hope that he is a prophet and the storm is coming and he will be proven sane and continue on with life as is. Builds a shelter trying to build on that hope. A small ‘storm’ comes and he feels justified, however, he is afraid to look outside, because if the storm wasn’t the storm of all storms, the potential of his mental breakdown becomes more and more a possibility and that hope starts to break apart. He goes and sees a doctor re: his mental health. Doctor tells him he must go away for a while for the sake of his mental health. Main character is crushed as what he has been running from and trying to prevent has come to fruition. Following scenes – the big storm comes. Hope is lost. Mental illness takes over entirely.

  • Thanksforstoppingby July 30, 2012, 10:21 am

    I thought the film was amazing. I think the film is about regret. Gonna watch it again to be certain but it seemed to me that quite often the key moments seemed to be tinged with it.

  • Pat August 4, 2012, 11:23 pm

    Curtis overacted, oops excuse me, over-reacted, at the expense of his wife and his daughter, but Curtis is happy now – he has no job, he has no insurance for his daughter’s operation and of course his wife will divorce him, but that’s okay because he will move in with his mom and they can split the rent. So Curtis ultimately is a happy man.

  • Ann August 4, 2012, 11:25 pm

    My question is, does Bob Dylan get royalties for his song about shelter from the storm, but I guess not, cuz they didn’t use it in the film and that seemed like a natural to me. But then again, I’m not sure, so I am of two minds about this – ha ha

  • desi August 11, 2012, 10:42 pm

    I think there should be a number 2, an that there is a
    Great storm coming. And it needs to show everything that could
    Happen. It is a great movie I have a ton of ideas for a number 2

  • Man_of_size August 13, 2012, 10:09 am

    I saw some comments to the effect that the ending must be real because the wife and daughter are reacting to storm whereas they don’t in any of the dream sequences. One thing I’d point out is that by the end of the film Curtis is on psychiatric medication. So one interpretation could that he is still obviously fixated on his fear of this apocalyptic storm, but his paranoia about the people around him has been lessened by the medication. So he dreams about the storm but the dreams no longer include violent attacks by those around him.

    The violent attacks in the earlier dreams, by the way, seem to me the best arguments against them being prophetic.

    In the end, I think the deliberate ambiguity works pretty well and allows you to believe what you want to believe. I’d be interested in knowing what the makers of the film believe, but of course they probably wouldn’t say, since it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to make a deliberately ambiguous film and then running around telling everyone what it means.

  • FingerZ August 14, 2012, 2:34 pm

    There are a lot of possibilities regarding the generel plot and ending for this brilliant movie .. And first of all, I would like to say that Shannon and Chastain are putting in great performances in this movie. Especially Shannon ..

    My take on the ending is that the family meet their demise on the beach. I really think, they went to Myrtle Beach and it all ended there.
    The scene where Chastain is in Shannon’s dream, she is just standing there all in her wet clothes.
    A dream Shannon can transfer to the last scene of the movie, where they allegedly drown, because of the Tsunami.

    I am gonna watch this movie again, ASAP .. It’s one of my favourites of the year and last year. If not the best one.

  • Murali August 16, 2012, 12:59 pm

    You are close, but none of your interpretations of the ending are correct.

    The whole final sequence is indeed another of Curtis’ dreams. But this one is noticeably different than all the previous ones. To this point, Curtis was alone in all of them. All the other people (save for Hannah) in his dreams were always menacing threats.

    In the final dream, Samantha is decidedly not a threat. In fact, she is his partner. They both share the protagonist position.

    This is showing that Curtis is not cured. He still has symptoms. But he is on the road to recovery. He has become able to allow someone else to come to his side, and maybe he can draw strength from this. Hopefully, he will continue building on it and eventually overcome his demons.

    It is very true to the real life struggle with mental illness. People do not have magical recoveries. It is a slow process that requires the strong support of loved ones.

  • saj August 16, 2012, 11:34 pm

    I think that Curtis’s worst fears came true. If you noticed, there is no sense of fear or panic from anyone. I think Curtis had finally accepted his fate and his wife knew the end was inevitable so she was accepting as well (and also being together set their fears at ease).

  • Tony August 20, 2012, 5:08 am

    I watched this movie last year when it came out and again just recently this year.

    First off….can anyone explain the dream in which everything goes zero gravity as if the house was lifted off the ground. Was he in a tornado in his dream? Never understood that. Nor did I understand the people trying to steal his daughter or standing around the home. My only interpretation of that is that his mother always thought people were watching her and now he has that same feeling. Total schizo(so it seems).

    The ending…so hard to decipher if it is real or dream. I want to believe that it is real just to give the audience the sense that he was not crazy all along. That would be fantastic. If it came true he would not just be another crazy person. Why did he not hear the storm and his daughter did at first? His illness was all about hearing/seeing a storm. Which was never there. This time, he had no idea…which tells me the storm is real. His back was turned and she notified him that there was a bad storm. If this was a dream it would have started with a storm. Remember in the movie he states “my dreams always begin with a storm.” This did not begin with a storm but rather him building a sand castle with his daughter. This was a great family moment at the end of the movie to show unity and compassion for each other. Something that they often did not have during the film. Another thing at the end of the film is now being so far away from the shelter there is nothing that he can do to save his family. I felt terrible to think that everything that he worked for to protect them was a lost cause. Take Shelter creates a very suspensful ending and was done masterfully. If it was not done masterfully, no one would be here on this forum having a discussion about it. Very thought provoking.

    • Yannis October 28, 2012, 2:18 pm

      Very good comments Tony. We could recognise that is an open-end (why not? The movie is also very interesting for other aspects than trying to know if he is ill or not. It is not a disaster movie anyway. ). But some elements make me think that the movie treat the subject of a familly where there is a lot of love and solidarity despite some mental healts problems concerning the father (his deaf girl is somewhere a way to justify this illness) and lso question in what the family is ready to accept to do in order to maintain the family unity. One element that can be seen as detail to back up my opinion is that in the last scene they all together on holidays in a hotel next to the sea far from any shelter they can see a storm coming where obviously no warnings have been triggered from the state or any local authority and where we know how hasardous can be at that moment to be next to the sea. Can we suppose reasonably that was a kind of an undocumented huge storm not heralded by anyone, any authority. From the images that we can see is just another normal storm coming from the sea, nothing more. The stress in the face of his wife and daughter comes from the uncertainty of the reaction of the father to face to this new storm far from his shelter. It could be the test of his good recovery or not?

  • violinist David Montague August 28, 2012, 5:50 pm

    If one cannot deal with creepily unhappy endings, then get out of the salmonella-infected kitchen.

    Take Shelter is a fine film. Refreshingly more artful than most. The players were all superb. Interestingly paced. A true mood-piece. And, yes, rather like a gussied-up episode of the Twilight Zone or perhaps the Outer Limits. Although, strategically, this movie has a lot in common with the similarly magically realistic and karma-propelled Franco-Tunisian film “The Secret of the Grain.” (Definitely worth a look-see ;-)

    I think of movies like these as “train wreck” movies…one knows the train is going to wreck, but that’s okay because it is, after all, a train wreck. And train wrecks are very parade-like in that “everyone loves” to watch them, at least in the sense of wanting to avert ones eyes but also NOT being able to avert one’s eyes. Therefore and ironically, sometimes train wrecks can be so compelling that one does not even have to see the train wreck itself. It is, after all, the journey that counts, not the destination – especially when the train is DOOOOOMED!

    As for the edgy ending…orchestral da-da-da-DAHHHHHH! I can’t say that it was all that unpredictable, though only to the extent that it should be and maybe even had to be – in accordance with certain artistic and moral principles – predictable. I mean, OF COURSE, the guy wasn’t crazy. And the poor guy had to be vindicated. The only question was HOW would he be vindicated…tragically or not so tragically.

    So come on, was the ending really all that ambiguous? Or is it the case that a lot of people just WISH that it were ambiguous. It’s as if, when faced with the unacceptable, a little switch goes click inside some people’s heads and suddenly it’s all…”I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THAT WHICH I FIND UNPLEASANT!!! I’M NOT LISTENING I’M NOT LISTENING!!! THERE MUST BE SOME OTHER, MORE PLEASANT OR ACCEPTABLE EXPLANATION! LAH LAH LAH LAH…”

    There are no symptoms of any Shutter Island-esque reality flip-flopping in this movie. Not really. The plot may deliver a series of CLEARLY delineated brief episodes, dreams or flashes of (whatever…some magical prophetic thing) that, yes, true enough, lead to events that give the “normies” the impression that the prophet is crazy, but that jazz only serves to emphasize that, OF COURSE the “crazy” guy isn’t actually crazy…and OF COURSE the folks who think they’ve got their acts together don’t stand a chance. Classic, and justly so. I just wish the film makers could have given us a few reaction shots of characters who thought they were sooooo right, but were nothing but wrong and soon to be storm-stomped, such as a shot of the annoyingly patronizing psychiatrist who stupidly recommended that our hero (having spent the family savings/mortgage and lost his job!) TAKE A BLOODY VACATION. And with regard to that, the ordinarily super-reasonable and businesslike wife was like “Um, sure, if you say so, let’s go on a vacation. Duhhhhhh.” This plot twist was a bit hard to swallow, out of character for the wife, but it did give the characters an excuse to be nowhere near the shelter when they really needed it. More importantly, it gave the audience a possibly slightly morally satisfying opportunity to say “well, YOU DESERVE IT for giving up and giving in!”

    Sincerely,

    Violinist David Montague

  • Dave September 6, 2012, 6:11 pm

    I think the ending was an acceptance to his disease and the fact that there are people there for him. All his other dreams some one was trying to attack him. In the end his wife and daughter acknowledge the storm and he sees he is not alone. His biggest fear is going off the deep end and not being there for his family. Where in the end it shows his family is there for him. I think it was a great ending and lets the viewer decide how the movie ended.

  • Eric Wilson September 6, 2012, 10:19 pm

    I believe what he was seeing in his dreams were what was to come in the future. He saw his dog biting him so he got rid of him and changed the outcome. The dream with his friend..he made em change crews and avoided that future event. Everything he saw in his dreams he changed except the dream with his wife soaking wet with a knife. He couldn’t let go of his wife so he let that deam go unchanged. She was soaking wet with a knife. Perhaps at the beach house not wanting to die by the storm (she was soaking wet so assuming it already hit land). It just made since why she was soaking wet from the last scene.

  • Dixon September 7, 2012, 2:41 pm

    I didn’t think the movie was great entertainment, however it was educational and demonstrative. I found it realistic enough to be a bit depressing. The meaning of the ending appears to have been missed by all, although I admit I didn’t read them all.

    The ending is not meant to be interpreted as being either real or a dream state (or other vindication of the main character). It illustrates the wife and daughter’s decision to live with (remian with) a paranoid schizophrenic. The wife told him that they would remain with him if he “opened the door” to the shelter. What is meant by this is that when people decide to live with a mentally ill person; they accept living in a part of that individual’s reality. In this case it was illustrated by their sharing a storm experience while on vacation. It really doesn’t matter whether it was experienced in reality or in a dream state.

    • scottydynamite September 7, 2012, 4:36 pm

      Dixon,
      Your explanation is simple but also concrete. This thread has gone global and it is tough to read them all but considering I work on the site I have read them all. There are some really intellkigent explanation throughout the thread and a movie that was just okay in my opinion truly opened up a lot of conversation and debate. Thanks for your input.

    • Raul September 15, 2012, 1:23 am

      I also think that It doesn’t matter wether it’s real or not. This movie is great because it introduces the doubt into the people who have watched it.

      In almost the whole movie, you’re watching the situation from an external point of view and you realize what Curtis is seeing is not real. This is confirmed within the Shelter when Curtis has to opened the door himself to see the storm and thunders aren’t real.

      At the end of the movie the spectator becomes the protagonist. Now it’s you who have to deal with a situation that you may think it’s real or not. You have felt a little bit of “Curtis” and that’s the good point of the movie.

  • chez September 15, 2012, 11:25 am

    I think this film basically documents Curtis’s descent into paranoid skitzophrenia. The ‘storm’ is just a metaphor for the chaos and tempest in the mind of a paranoid skitzophernic. It covers basically everything that happens when someone begins descent into serious mental illness, such as losing their job, financial problems, relationship problems, and other difficulties such as refusing to accept being mentally ill and closing the door on treatment. I gathered that when he met the new counsellor, who wanted to address his close family history (mother) of paranoid skitzophrenia. People with this devistating illness often suffer religious delusions, believing themselves to have prophetic powers, when really, the illness is in control of all of their thoughts and behaviours. Hallucinations playa big part in Skitzophrenia, and they are often as real as real things are to me and you. Curtis’s illness wasn’t helped by the stress of modern life, finances, family, things that the delusion can feed off like the news about climate change and financial crisis. It is not uncommon for someone suffering from this illness to go to all kinds of lengths to reinforce the delusions, which is where building the shelter comes into it. The reckless spending, the paranoia, it is all part of the storm in his head, and the storm represents his mind eventually being completly taken over by paranoid skitzophrenia.

  • Mike September 16, 2012, 2:40 am

    It was a fantastic film. My interpretation of the ending as a psychiatrist; Schizophrenia most of the time starts with what is called primary delusions which is a horrible sense that something is wrong, or something bad is going to happen. At this point, people are very confused and tense, but still have not lost their touch with the reality. They may have some insight into their problems as Curtis had. However as the illness develops to full Psychosis the delusions start to be more convincing and very real. At this point these people are not confused any more, as they know they were right they believe that others have the same beliefs too. At the end what we see is from Curtis eyes, as for the rest of the film, when he believes that finally Samantha and Hannah can see what he has been worried about all the time. This is not necessary happening in his dream, so that is why this is so real. He has lost the touch with the reality!!

  • Henri September 17, 2012, 12:19 pm

    I think that his paranoia conjured up the family … it was his anchor to stay sane. The storms were real, his family was the fiction.

  • Claude September 30, 2012, 4:34 pm

    I read many different opinions here after watching the movie this morning, went running for an hour, and thought of this possible ending.

    This is a powerful family movie. The wife is the main character. She is the pilar. Understanding that her daughter could eventually get the same mental problems, she decided she had to help her, and her husband.

    When she realised that her husband had lost trust in her (the dream in the kitchen), she found a way to gain back his trust. She did that in the shelter when asking him to open the door. He could trust her after that.

    The ending is about that. We see another dream of his in which his family trust him. This is also portrayed in the sunday brunch when both his wife and his daughter hug him after he went crazy in front of everyone.

    I can imagine that when he would wake up of this beach dream eventually, his family would be comforting to him as he realized he had another disease related dream. Thus helping him handle his condition this better.


    Claude

  • Renae September 30, 2012, 11:36 pm

    Interviews with Michael Shannon (Curtis) and director Jeff Nichols clear the air about the ending as well as the misunderstanding that the movie is actually about schizophrenia and whether or not Curtis has it. Its actually about anxiety and Nichols explains in his interview how that came to be by things going on in his own personal life. The ending he basically says you can take it how you want, but they (Curtis, Samantha and Hannah) ARE all seeing the same thing. Curtis is NOT schizophrenic and neither are Samantha or Hannah. The movie is about anxiety, feeling like everything around you is crashing down, and the strength and love of a family.

    • Doug November 22, 2012, 2:22 am

      If that’s the case, the ending really frustrates me and the director did a terrible job representing what he wanted to show in the movie. The storm that was moving in to kill them either really was happening, or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t a hallucination like the rest of the hallucinations they showed in the story (and he admitted to having in the story), how could the audience have ever been expected to know that?

  • Jane October 9, 2012, 12:00 pm

    I think Curtis is dreaming again. The fact that the daughter and Sam both see the storm along with him means he feels they are all on the same side….

  • Paul October 9, 2012, 4:16 pm

    At first I was disappointed in the ending, believing that it showed him to be a prophet, which I was uncomfortable with, if you build the film on the basis of reality you can’t flip to the supernatural in the last scene and call that clever script writing. I have since however changed my mind, I now think that the storm at the end is not real. I believe, because the psychiatrist tells him “you need to take time away from the shelter” he realises during the final storm hallucination that he will no longer have the shelter to hide in but will now need to rely on his family to support him, that has become his new shelter so to speak, that is why his wife says “OK”. And why the movie is called “Taking Shelter”. Similar indeed to what Jane posted yesterday!

  • Paul October 9, 2012, 4:34 pm

    His daughter spots the storm… that is her spotting the episode he is about to have.

  • Dawson October 17, 2012, 1:34 pm

    Each dream we saw was not only premonitions, but if you watch them closely, the truck crash dream was Shannon trying to go somewhere outside of his shelter after the “end all” storm hits. Food would’ve been running low and that scene might have been your post apocolyptic cannibals ie: “The Road” or something going after him and his daughter. So if the visions happen in order, after that “end all” storm hits while there on the beach, the next dream was all the birds falling and dying, he dreamed his friend killed him, probably to take his shelter, that was like a third or fourth dream so that vision would’ve happened way after the initial storm hit, during hte apocolyptic stage. After he loses the daughter the wife stabs him like the dream we didn’t see all of when she was all wet becuase she was out in the stormy weather during the apocolypse. His visions were post apocolyptic.

  • Bryan October 19, 2012, 6:12 pm

    Why does everyone insist that the ending is EITHER real or not? We create our own reality, and the fact thta mine isn’t the same as yours doesn’t make either mine or yours less real.Reality is a construct. When I see a rocket take off, do I what a South American tribesman, a Yanomami for example, does? No. But the fact that our understandings of reality differ doesn’t mean one is qualitatively “realer” than the other.

  • Rida October 23, 2012, 11:53 pm

    I just saw this movie and was so upset at the ending that I had to find out what others thought, maybe I was too judgmental, it’s happened before. I agree with ‘Matt’s’ interpretation (April 23, 2012). For me, I don’t care for movies that leave me with more questions. I need an ending. I’m paying for an ending. I have enough mystery in my real life. I watch a movie to escape and to seek imaginary closure. I accept that the final storm was real and with that, he and his family would be dead and that he was never mentally ill. But when I believe that, I get very angry that mental illness was treated so cavalierly. You cannot love mental illness away, no more than you can love away a severed limb. Also, you can’t ask if mentally ill people are prophets in disguise. Shame on this movie for trivializing mental illness and turning it into some Tammy Wynette Stand by Your Man drama. Would we be having this conversation about metaphorical breast cancer? No! Because we all see the pink ribbons, the awareness runs, the many, many testimonials from breast cancer survivors. But no such fanfare for mental illness, it can remain forever that provocative boogeyman. Sad. Very sad.

  • crazygoat October 30, 2012, 8:54 pm

    I am not surprised Adam can’t figure out the movie, he can’t even figure out which “your” to use in the first line of his post. Should have used “you’re” which is the contraction of “you are”. Using the correct words matters. Anyhoo, it’s obvious that they are actually in Myrtle Beach, SC and that the storm is real proving that his dreams were not paranoia but premonitions and warnings of a coming event. When meeting with the doctor his wife explains they have been saving for a trip to Myrtle Beach and the doctor says that it would be a good idea for Curtis to get away from the shelter, maybe take a vacation, before checking in to a facility for treatment. His daughter sees the storm first and then his wife sees it also. They nod at each other to acknowledge that what is happening is real and that they need to get out of there and back home immediately.

  • D October 31, 2012, 2:16 am

    I just finished watching this movie, and honestly it was slow, yet exciting at the same time I could not stop watching. There were so many things to think about. This is the first time that I have ever written a movie critique (maybe that will tell you how much I truly appreciate this movie). My interpretation is that He is not crazy, and that he truly is a prophet, much like Noah. My conclusion stems from many reasons. Most of his dreams were cut short and extremely violent and had terrible events that would wake him up in a hyperventilating state. If you remember, in the dreams, his dog bit him, his arm hurt and he woke up in a state of panic. The other one with the car accident, he again woke up hyperventilating, etc, etc with all of the dreams throughout the movie. However, I could not believe this last ending scene was a dream because it showed the POV of both the mother and the daughter before Curtis’s own POV. He also did not panic in the reality, he finally realized and understood that he in fact was not crazy. I believe at that one moment both Curtis and his wife actually wished that he was crazy and suffering from hysteria instead of actually being correct, but had both finally accepted the fact that “holy shit, this is going down right now.” If you remember, the man in the news report (on TV) lived for 11 hours through the gas leakage or whatever it had been. As i read earlier, Myrtle Beach was about 10 hours away from him, further leading me to believe he was a prophet as well. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not one to write these types of reviews, and I never have before, but this movie was so intriguing that I could honestly not help myself. I have so many more things that I can write about, but I’ll cut it short, I’d love to hear some responses, and either way you choose to look at it I think It’s impossible to argue that this was not a great movie.

  • Tominct November 6, 2012, 3:15 pm

    My take is that the closing scene is this guy final hallucination. The lucid nature of the scene would say he has totally lost touch and been overtaken by mental illness. I know that movies require that you suspend disbelief but in real life there is no way that this storm sneaks up on the coast with no weather man seeing it coming. The alternative is that some mechanism unknown to man causes this storm to manifest out of nowhere. Many movies have logic bombs but this is beyond movie magic.

  • Dakdonna November 10, 2012, 12:32 pm

    Very entertaining reading all these opinions! I thought the last scene was real and experienced by all of them. Children don’t wear their hearing aids to the beach is the first clue (I’m in the profession). Second, Hannah signed “storm”, which was taught by Samantha but Curtis didn’t know. The ending is ironic; after it was all said and done, Curtis (who probably was both psychotic and prophetic) can’t protect his family from the impending storm, but at least they are together.

    Now go watch Marci Martha May Marlene. Another fantastic movie with exquisite acting and the dreaded ‘open end’!

  • Marie November 19, 2012, 3:44 pm

    This movie seems to have infinite possibilities of meaning and interpretation. Considering that I over analyze everything, I found it quite confusing…:/

  • Doug November 22, 2012, 2:07 am

    For me to conclude that this was truly be a good movie, the director needed to give us enough clues as to what the ending really meant. If there’s no way to figure out what actually happened at the end, then it’s almost like a really long prank they pulled on us – and it would just make me angry. So, since I do think the director didn’t intend to tick everyone off with not having a real ending in mind, I tend to think he left us enough clues in the story to say what his ending really was. The most likely 2 scenarios are:

    1- he’s crazy – schizophrenia; and his hallucinations have gotten worse.
    – if he is crazy, and he had been having hallucinations, there’s no telling what he could hallucinate next. It could feel much more realistic in order to “convince him”.
    – common sense tells us that massive storms don’t come in raining psychotic gas causing motor oil type liquid. The rest of the story line was a typical story – nothing too crazy happening other than these hallucinations. The director really threw a curveball in at the end if that actually happened, and really, if it were true, the story didn’t really have much of a deep meaning at all – a prophet predicted a storm – nobody believed him – they all died anyway – the end.
    – There doesn’t seem to be any forewarning from outside sources – sirens, news stories, they didn’t get word that the storm was coming until they could literally see it. There’s no indication anyone else saw or knew of the storm. The odds of them being the very first to spot a storm of that size have to be a billion to one.
    – All of his actions to that point certainly looked like they were trending toward crazy.
    – Family history – started showing signs the same age his mother showed signs.
    – The stress of losing his job and potentially failing marriage could have pushed him over the edge – the next day was “the first storm”. It seemed like that stress could very easily have set him off.
    – A hallucination ending gives the movie a lot of meaning, because if he is schizophrenic, it paints a very clear picture of how challenging it is even for people around him without the disease to tell reality from the affected’s fiction.

    2- it’s really happening
    – The characters are interacting with him in a realistic way – different from his other hallucinations
    – It’s a movie – the director can put any unrealistic ending in he wants.
    – The daughter signs “Storm” – sounded like from a previous post that he didn’t get taught that word, however, I don’t think we can necessarily say he didn’t know that word.

    Honestly I was leaning toward #2 when I started writing this, but as I started writing and re-thinking all of the clues that the ending was hallucinated, I’m obviously leaning toward #1 now.

    However, my answer would weigh heavily on a psychiatrist’s opinion of whether the story looks consistent with someone in the early stages of schizophrenia – would this be something they would “dream up” once their original “dream” was proven wrong to keep the hallucinations going and make them seem more realistic?

  • Aimee November 23, 2012, 10:57 pm

    That’s funny, when I watched it again tonight, I was looking at the beach in the last scene. It did look like the sea was withdrawing, and my mind went to tsunami… but tsunamis and thunderstorms/tornadoes have nothing to do with each other, so I may have been mistaken about the beach. There are some great interpretations on this thread! I myself have no idea what the ending meant; I don’t consider a couple of water spouts to be “the” big disaster… nuclear war, perhaps, but then that doesn’t explain the amber raindrops (I like that one suggestion that it was from Cumbre Viejo!) That would explain the water, and the rain, but again, not the waterspouts. Anyone think that it was symbolic for the 2008 financial crisis? I thought I could make out Tim Geithner’s face in one of the clouds. Just kidding.

  • Nate November 24, 2012, 1:49 pm

    This film was interesting. My interpretation is that the storms represent his deepest, darkest fears. The bunker represents the safe zone he has built in his own mind in order to avoid his fears. He feels safe there, but by avoiding his fears he is keeping himself and his family in a dark mental place, and limiting their potential for positive new experiences. When he leaves the bunker he chooses to face his fear and ultimately imbrace life, with both the good and bad. In the last scene, the beach represents what he has gained by taking the risk to face his fears. The final storm represents the fact that he is vulnerable to his fears becoming reality, since he is out of his “safe zone.” The ultimate message I took from the movie is that there is no way to be totally safe from one’s fears, and trying to avoid them only gives them power over you.

  • Producer J Simons November 29, 2012, 10:26 pm

    My direct thought at the ending of this film as I just watched it about 5 minutes ago was of that,he was dreaming but then again you made a good point as to where they did interact more. So being said its really hard to tell how to sum up the plot I literally flipped the movie off because I despise when movies end this way kind of makes you want to read books more often. If I would have to give a 80% sum up though I’d say the psychiatrist talked to Hannah before they went on vacation leading to her speaking with her daughter about it as well so daddy didn’t seem crazy sort of deal because he did say he would do whatever it takes to never leave his family

  • Brandon December 8, 2012, 1:30 am

    There is no true ending. Your interpretation is a reflection of your reality/state of mind. Just like any other piece of art. Personally, I don’t think movies should have open endings. It’s about telling a story or a moral, which this movie is cloudy in both.

  • Rob December 20, 2012, 3:39 am

    Sometime in the movie…when the birds swarmed, he had completely disconnected and began to make those he loved conform to his reality. It took time for his reality to solidify because he continued to want to stay connected. But to no avail. It was well and truly over. His families death by storm or by disconnection….outcome was the same.

    Good film and that was my take on the end…the minute the daughter ran to the street to see the birds…fini

  • Francisco December 24, 2012, 1:18 am

    There are many possibilities available for this ending. I sympahized with Curtis very well, specially because everyone was doubting him thinking he was crazy, so I see the ending as being real and not a dream. You can call it a “I proved them wrong” type of movie. Curtis was in fact predicting the future. He became crazy because all of these terrifying realistic dreams and also the thunders only he could hear. He could not bear with what was happening and it messed with his mind little by little everyday. It got to that point because he was really scared, which caused him great anxiety, and this obsession to make sure he would be safe from the storm. I did ask myself “were all those birds flying and dying a hallucination or real”? I like to believe he did not have any hallucinations, and that eveything was actually visions. I do believe he added hallucinations to his visions, like his family and friend dying, but that was caused by him having this severe anxiety and by being terrified by everything that was going on with him. I am not sure if Curtis was sane, but it makes me feel better that he was.

  • ladynnyc January 1, 2013, 8:41 am

    Hello all..

    I just watched the movie today & although we can read many interpretations into it, I don’t think Shannons character was crazy. In fact, I believe he was very in touch with reality. The rest of the characters were going about their hum drum lives without having a clue to what was happening all around them. Obviously, there were things I didn’t understand and can only guess at the meanings..but I believe his visions & the end to be real. It is easier to call someone crazy than to accept the worst.

  • mimo January 5, 2013, 9:55 pm

    Everytime he dreams, the hue of the image is blue. But in the end, it’s still yellow, like it is in reality.
    So, I think he wasn’t dreaming, and I just rewatched the ending to make sure, when he sees the storm and she’s outside too, he looks back at her with such a powerful look that mixes satisfaction and sanity that just says “TOLD YA” … that guy’s a real good actor… and she says “OK”, like I believe you. Also, throughout the whole movie, he’s loosing control, but that last scene, he just seems like he is so resolute, he knows what to do, he lived this storm so many times in his dreams.
    Anyway. lots of cool people and cool interpretations here…

  • Matt Locklear January 11, 2013, 9:54 pm

    Your 3 possibilites are wrong and so are a lot of other opinions. The storm at the end and the husband and wife staring at each other (Curtis thinking “I was right!” and his wife thinking “you were right!/youre not crazy”) is just symbolic of them becoming one again, in a sense. It basically shows Curtis wasnt crazy all along and in way its awesome but theres also a big storm so it sucks. Its like they got their marriage back but it takes a huge storm to prove it.

  • David Savopoulos January 13, 2013, 6:37 am

    In contrast to most of the interpretations, I took the movie ending to be very literal. I really appreacite the plethora of ideas that everyone here has contributed, and it’s great to see a movie that can stimulate that much thought! My first impression was that the big storm he predicted had finally come to fruition, and in the final moments the whole family came to the realization that he was right, they were doomed, and she muttered “okay” as a final acceptance of the reality of it all (and a quiet acknowledgment that he was right all along). If you looked at the storm itself, there were a bunch of tornados forming into a huge apocalyptic event. I did not venture a guess on the brown raindrops, but also took them to mean that this storm was unlike any previous event, and would prove to be the demise of many or all. If you follow that ending, the irony is really twisted. He finally saw a real “shrink,” and capitulated that none of this was prophetic – he caved in to the rational thought that he was mentally ill. He then took the first step in treatment by going away to Myrtle Beach. In doing so, he took his family away from the one thing that could have saved all of them. To me, the look in their faces in the final moments was a validation that he was right all along, and was a calm, quiet, and almost peaceful resolute acceptance that the path they followed had led to their demise. The peaceful acceptance could also be read as a sort of “relief” that their husband/father was not mentally ill after all and was actually blessed with prophecy. I dunno! Just some thoughts from me – the peanut gallery….

  • Matthew March 5, 2013, 11:39 am

    The director has said that the ending is intentionally ambiguous, but that the we the viewer are to understand that, whatever the meaning of the ending, the wife and husband are on the same page again, as they were at the beginning of the film. For me, this means one of two things: 1) they both saw the storm, and realized that his schizophrenia was actually a harbinger of something real, or 2) they come to an agreement that he cannot run from his problems, that he will need to leave his family to seek deeper medical treatment (that is, she does not see the storm, he does, he realizes that it is not real, she realizes that he is having an attack again, and together, through a glance, they agree on the most difficult decision they have ever had to make). I personally favour the second interpretation.

  • dromd March 12, 2013, 7:42 pm

    Incredible film.The film is pretty straightfoward as far as what is real and what is delusional/dream.The ending might seem confusing at first, but what I think it’s trying to say is that mental illness affects the family as much as the person with the illness.The ending is a dream. What you don’t know is whose dream it is, his or hers?Both are suffering.Both can feel the presense of The Storm and the effects it is going to have on their lives and the life of their daughter.

  • ChoreChickie May 8, 2013, 2:33 pm

    I HAD to look this movie up, Doing chores I was sucked in, hence no chores completed but I was waiting for him to be right the whole time, it was the ending I was waiting for, but it wasn’t like another “dream” of his to me. I know I may be a simpleton with breaking down plots, being a critic, whatever, but his wife said they would get the money for therapy. They were the only two at the therapist, he only questioned his sanity due to his mothers and the dreams that were driving him to lack of sleep and being scared due to the severity of the dreams, and hasn’t anyone lived or stayed at the beach in a metal roofed shelter, thats how rain looks in the beginning of a storm, the wife was standing at the edge of the rafter line, hence the color, his dreams were darker, he dreamt more details rather then the scope of how big the storm was, here I am 2013 commenting, but it seemed like a shut case but I did want to see all the theories, sometimes it seems as though some people think to deep, and some not enough, maybe thats me, but it made me stop and watch, so it was a good film whatever you may think the ending means.

  • Zach June 4, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Boy do I have news for you people. If you’re reading this, after reading through most of the comments like I did, then you’ve come along way. One poster was partially correct and I will get to that. But lets cut to the chase.

    THE STORM WAS REAL!

    Now let me blow your mind. In not ONE of Curtis’s dreams did he dream of building a shelter. That was HIS Choice. It was all leading up to their vacation that would bring them to exactly where the storm was. Look at the several references to going to their Vacation. The guy lives in Ohio, this storm was in Florida. And he ended up making the dreams a reality by not just staying put, and going on this vacation.

    Supporting evidence that keeps getting overlooked -

    The TV report about a train crash and leaking some kind of poison all over the place, that is toxic and killed 2 people.
    The oil-rain. No oil won’t naturally precipitate into a cloud, but if there is a TORNADO or HURRICANE or something else like that, it can even rain FISH, so it could easily rain OIL.
    This oil rain, if exposed long enough, will turn you into some kind of dying zombie. Perhaps other chemicals are mixed in, imagine your choice of hundreds of chemicals being dumped in the ocean, sucked up into the sky, and then rained down on land.

    As another poster said, at one point, all the furniture in the room raises up. This happens when you are involved in a great flood like a Tsunami.

    As the director said, he wanted 2 people to come together at the end. Finally Curtis’s wife is SEEING the storm, BELIEVING him. I believe he knows they are probably not going to survive, and she says OK.

    But basically, what you have to remove to understand the rest of the symbolism is Curtis’s obsession with building a shelter. He thinks he can stop the future from happening by preparing his family. As I said, in none of his dreams does he build a shelter, but in all of his dreams there is a Storm Coming. And even if he HADN’T gone crazy, they were STILL going on that trip. So you see now, his premonition was telling him to NOT go on that trip!

    I believe I have an explanation for every other aspects of his dreams as well if anyone cares. But in my opinion, the end is coming for Curtis and his family and there is probably very little they can do. Maybe if they move quickly and hop in his truck and get inland they can avoid it, but we are talking MASSIVE storm and Tsunami, Tornado’s, things being sucked up into the cloud and rained down. And the worst part is, his premonitions were real and he’s standing directly in front of the storm he was trying to avoid.

  • killabe7 August 7, 2013, 9:50 pm

    it could be that he subconsciously spent all that money on the shelter, took on on risky debt, and risked his job/health benefits so that he would, indeed, be too poor to vacation in myrtle beach… that this prophet had some deep-rooted, but dislocated/unrecognized sense of the actual storm that led to his family’s demise…

  • Some Guy August 19, 2013, 9:53 am

    Personally I think the ending was supposed to be real, he was getting his vindication and the wife was having her “oh crap!” moment realizing he was right all along. And both of them realizing they should have never left Ohio!

    That said, it is exactly the kind of ending I would expect a movie like this to have. Movies try just like books, to always have horrible bad endings because they think it makes them realistic, as though nothing good ever happens in real life. Reminds me of every single “great” piece of literature I had to read in school, they all have awful tragic endings, never a happy one…gets really boring after a while.

  • Anne September 3, 2013, 11:01 am

    I just watched Take Shelter for the second time and then read most of the comments here. Thanks so much for providing a forum to talk about the film!
    I guess it goes without saying that Jeff Nichols left the ending open to interpretation on purpose, thus making the film stronger and more haunting.
    With that said, however, in response to some commentators:
    While Curtis’s crippling burden was a huge fear was that he was suffering from mental illness, I don’t believe he is a paranoid schizophrenic. Because when Curtis went to the social worker, he was trying to be honest about his fears. . .he told her he only had a couple of the symptoms of the P/S that his mother suffered from (AND his mother confirmed to him she never had prophetic dreams). It would appear that the social worker worked with him without labeling him a P/S since when the replacement social worker started with the P/S in his family, Curtis thought for a moment, then got up and left.
    The prophetic dreams, as well as his auditory hallucinations and visions no one around him saw, could have been caused by the way his brain was wired. Like a psychic, he was on radio frequency to pick it up.
    I think the daughter’s deafness is another component showing how this family feels outside the parameters of normal. With the operation, the daughter would have been able to hear, Curtis got promoted but couldn’t keep it. So close to “normal” in societal standards…
    (I LOVE the analogy of Sam sewing akin to her trying to keep her family together.)

    Here’s what I’d like to know though: if this Storm is true (and not a dream), what happens to them? Are they doomed because they left his shelter? Because aren’t they about 6-8 hours from home (Ohio to South Carolina?) and could they outrun the storm?
    I do love the fact that the film ends at the scene where so many natural disaster movies begin!

  • plentifullove30 September 17, 2013, 9:05 pm

    I just watched this movie and this is one of the better movies I have seen in a while. I think its one of those make us think he’s crazy..but then guess what..HE’S NOT! Type things. Maybe we are to consider that “crazy” people PERHAPS are not “crazy” after all.

  • subduedjoy October 9, 2013, 10:27 pm

    Number 1: Curtis is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia like his mother. He does not want to leave his family, but he is told he must to get treatment. His desire to stay with his family and his family’s desire to stick together as a family are so great that he now hallucinates that they can see his hallucinations. We know the storm is a hallucination because if there really were a storm coming, he wouldn’t be standing so calmly behind his wife. We know he is now hallucinating that his daughter and wife can see his hallucinations because his daughter points out the storm to him and his wife sees the rain as oil, which is an impossibility.

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