Click on a picture to enlarge it

Amphibians in Movies
Magnolia (1999)
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
Magnolia Magnolia Magnolia
Magnolia Magnolia Magnolia
Magnolia Magnolia Magnolia

Tagline: "Things fall down. People look up. And when it rains, it pours."

This long complicated bizzare film takes place in Los Angeles when it's raining heavily. There are parallel intercut stories about two dying men whose lives are somehow interrelated. It would be crazy to try to describe this movie so let's just say that the movie starts, yada yada yada, two and three quarter hours later Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character says "there are frogs falling from the sky." Then we see thousands of frogs falling from the sky. The effect is very powerful and impressive and utterly unexpected. A car crashes on the frog-slick street, then an ambulance. Blood marks spots where frogs landed. From high above the city we hear a bullfrog call and a squeaky sound then we see a frog fall through a skylight as we fall right behind it. It lands on the gun of a man trying to shoot himself in the head just as he pulls the trigger. He ends up shooting his television. A much better target. Another frog falls in the face of a man climbing a telephone pole. It knocks the man face first into the ground. Then everybody lives happily ever after and we hear Amy Mann singing "Save Me," which was nominated for an Oscar.

I don't want to get into the myths and folklore and about frogs raining from the sky or whether it's scientifically possible. People swear they've seen it happen. Lots of people believe the Earth is flat, too. It seems possible that waterspouts or tornados could suck up fish and frogs from lakes then carry them away and drop them somewhere else, but I'll bet that a lot of the reports of raining frogs come from people who see a bunch of frogs on the ground during a heavy rain and think they fell from the sky, when the frogs were actually just driven out of their hiding places when they flooded and swam or walked to where they ended up. All those worms we see on a wet sidewalk after a rain? They all fell there from the moon. I've seen them on the sidewalk, so that must be what happened!

The frogs in the movie are all fake. An IMDB comment says that over 7,900 rubber frogs were used, and more frogs were added by CGI. They seem to be modelled on bullfrogs, but I have to wonder if there are lakes or ponds near L.A. that contains so many bullfrogs that could be sucked up and rained over the city.

A plague of frogs is a motif from Exodus 8:2. Pharaoh refuses to let Moses and the Israelite slaves leave Egypt, so God tells Moses to give Pharaoh a message from God saying God will plague him with frogs if he doesn't let the people go. (The numbers 8 and 2 show up frequently throughout the movie, and we actually see a road sign that says "Exodus 8:2.) Frogs don't necessarily rain from the sky in the Bible. They are "caused" to come out streams, rivers, and ponds. That could be rain, it could be a flood, or maybe they just crawled and hopped, but the method really doesn't matter, it's the same idea - a plague of frogs.

Exodus 8:2 - And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs:
Exodus 8:3 - And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens and into thy kneadingtroughs:
Exodus 8:4 - And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.
In Exodus 8:5 - 8:14, frogs are brought out of the waters of Egypt to plague the Pharaoh and his people until Pharaoh swears he'll let the people go if the frogs are taken away. Of course, once the frogs are gone, Pharaoh goes back on his word. You just can't trust a Pharaoh - or any powerful ruler who relies on slavery, for that matter.