What does the frog rain in Magnolia (1999) mean? I got answers leading to Bible exodus 8:2 which is: "But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs." I know the movie is all about 8:2 but since the frog rain makes things better in the movie, I couldn't understand it clearly. Can someone please explain?

1 Answer 1


This was discussed in a Brightlightsfilm inteview with the Director/Writer Paul Thomas Anderson:

Of all things, why frogs?

It truly came from a slightly gimmicky and exciting place. I’d read about rains of frogs in the works of Charles Fort, who was a turn-of-the-century writer who wrote mainly about odd phenomena. Michael Penn was the one who turned me on to Fort, and who, when I went to one of Michael’s shows in New York once, made reference on stage to “rains of frogs.” At that moment I just went, Wow! How cool and scary and fun to do that would be – and what does it mean?

So I just starting writing it into the script. It wasn’t until after I got through with the writing that I began to discover what it might mean, which was this: You get to a point in your life, and shit is happening, and everything’s out of your control, and suddenly, a rain of frogs just makes sense. You’re staring at a doctor who’s telling you something is wrong, and while we know what it is, we have no way of fixing it. And you just go, so what you’re telling me, basically, is that it’s raining frogs from the sky.

I’m not someone who’s ever had a special fascination with UFO’s or supernatural phenomena or anything, but I guess I just found myself at a point where I was going through some shitty stuff and I was ready for some sort of weird religion experience, or as close as I could get to one.

So then I began to decipher things about frogs and history, things like this famous notion that, as far back as the Romans, people have been able to judge the health of a society by the health of its frogs. The health of a frog, the vibe of a frog, the texture of a frog, its looks, how much wetness is on it, everything. The frogs are a barometer for who we are as people. We’re polluting ourselves, we’re killing ourselves, and the frogs are telling us so, because they are all getting sick and deformed. And I didn’t even know it was in the Bible until Henry Gibson gave me a copy of the Bible, bookmarked to the appropriate frog passage.

What made you decide to use the sequences dealing with episodes of weird historical coincidence as a framing device for the film?

In a way, it’s a promise. A promise that, hey, look at these three stories which, to whatever extent are true or not, are weird and fantastic and filled with amazing coincidence – and that, if you gave me three hours, I will give you a story that is just as filled with weird and fantastic coincidence as they are, because “this stuff does happen.”

  • so are the frogs like miracles in the movie ?
    – icey
    Jun 29, 2015 at 15:06
  • @icey - The original inspiration was apparently the works of Charles Fort rather than the biblical plague. That was added later
    – user7812
    Jun 29, 2015 at 15:29

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