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On “The appearance of things”, a thriller based on Elizabeth Brundage’s bestseller, and currently airing on Netflix, a young family moves from New York City to Chosen, a rural town in the Hudson Valley, a few hours from the city. The protagonist, Catherine Claire (Amanda seyfried), is an artist who drops everything to support the academic development of her husband George Claire (James Norton), who has recently been hired as a professor of art at the University of Saginaw. The couple arrive with their little daughter Franny (Ana Sophia Heger) in an old house far from the rest, built in the 19th century by the Reverend Smit and his wife, and whose last owners were the Vayles.
But the house holds terrible secrets. Catherine ignores that her environments not only carry the burden of the past of the ancient families that inhabited her, but also hides horrendous murders, wives who died at the hands of their husbands. Between loneliness and silence, Catherine will begin to receive paranormal signals (like a ring) from those women in order to protect her. Protect her from whom? From her own husband George.
A series of events reveal that George is a scam, his professional career and fidelity to his wife are also a sham, and in order not to be discovered he performs the lowest and most heinous acts, including murdering his own wife.
READ MORE: “The Appearance of Things”: The Real Life Story Behind “Things Heard and Seen”
To understand the ending, it is important to take into account the symbolic-mystical charge that goes through “The appearance of things” and that is manifested through the art of George Inness (1825-1894), New York painter and author of “The Valley of the Shadow of Death ”, a recurring image in the film. Inness was a follower of the Swedish writer Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) whose philosophy was focused on the understanding of the afterlife, the value of the spiritual at the same level as the real and that death is only the beginning, as he puts it in his book “From Heaven and Hell”, a book that comes into the hands of Catherine and whose cover is nothing less than the painting “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” by Inness. Also, Swedenborg has devotees in the village of Chosen and on the other hand, George’s thesis is an investigation of the link between Inness and Swedenborg in his painting.
AN ENDING WITH QUESTIONS
The end of “The appearance of things” has caused some questions in the public. What really happens with George? Have you been possessed by an evil spirit? Is it going to hell or is it an allegory? Whose ring does Catherine find? Here we explain it:
George gets what is popularly called ‘divine justice’; That is to say, he will not pay for his crimes in jail; if not, in hell. At the end of the film, after finding himself discovered and finding no more exits, George flees absolutely disturbed towards the sea obeying the male voices that give him courage to justify his actions. Meanwhile, a storm begins and the only surviving witness of George’s violence begins to testify to the police. Immediately there is an image of the ghosts of the murdered women united and ready to do justice for them, including the spirit of Catherine.
WHAT HAPPENS TO GEORGE IN “THE APPEARANCE OF THINGS”?
While sailing in the middle of a storm the sky turns a demonic red color very similar to the colors of the landscapes of Inness. Finally, heaven becomes the allegorical painting “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”, while a woman’s voice declares her sentence: “The gates of hell are visible to those who are about to enter. Whoever has evil also receives the punishment of evil (…) We lost our children because of you. We are united in spirit ”. The spirits of the women of the house unite to take revenge on him and collect justice for his crimes. Inspired by the Swedenborg philosophy, this scene unites nature with hell, engulfing and punishing the murderer alive with the power of the afterlife.
Let us remember that George was familiar with the Swedish philosopher’s thought. Although he did not commune with him, in the final scenes it is seen that male voices disturb and manipulate him to hurt his wife. George, once skeptical of the paranormal, surrenders to the evil spirit of the house that prevents wives from living in peace, in real life and in the afterlife. (Is that spirit machismo?).
On the other hand, the ring that Catherine found goes back to the last sequence. Although during the course of the film it is not clear whether it belonged to Ella Vayle or to the wife of Reverend Smit (a devotee of Swedenborg and for which she was murdered), they make a closer look at the portrait of Reverend Smit’s wife and check that the ring was originally hers. Thus it is possible to understand that the solidarity of the spirits of the other women who were occupying the house began much earlier.
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