The other night I decided to watch a movie called “The Gift,” which came out in 2000, and which I had seen once before, probably about that long ago.
I remembered very little about it, except that it involved a psychic and a murder mystery.
I won’t give away too much about the movie, in case you want to watch it yourself, but the main character is a rural psychic reader who helps deal with problems brought to her by her none-too-affluent neighbors.
The psychic, played by Cate Blanchett, owns a well-worn set of cards that she constantly uses in her readings, laying them out in front of her in various random patterns.
This would all be well and good, except that for some reason the cards she uses in the film are Zener cards, which as far as I know are just about the only form of cards that cannot be used to give readings of any kind.
Heck, you can even give readings with playing cards if you play your cards right, so to speak. But these are solely designed to test telepathy and extrasensory perception, and that is all they do.
You can read about them at the link below, if you like.
Evidently the producers of the film didn’t bother to do even that much research on the subject, though.
I can just picture them saying something like “Well, these look kinda psychic-y, don’t they?” and leaving it at that.
I can’t imagine what kind of reading you would give with these cards, really, even if you tried.
The deck only contains five different symbols, none of which have any specific meaning whatsoever, unlike Tarot or Oracle decks.
As you can see below, there is a circle, a cross, wavy lines, a square, and a star.
And that’s it.
Each deck of Zener cards contains five repetitions of these five symbols, for a total of 25 cards per deck.
The deck that Cate used in the film appeared to have about this many cards in it, but they must have been truly magical. Because at one point someone broke into her house and used the deck to spell out the word “Satan” in letters about a foot high on the bed, with quite a number of cards left over to be scattered about dramatically.
So apparently they multiplied temporarily, just for that specific purpose.
Now THERE’S a gift!
Just as a side note, decent Zener cards are somewhat difficult to come by. I have a couple of decks myself, which I use for my own intuitive practice exercises, and I had to do a fair bit of searching online to find some that were neither marked nor see-through.
This is because most people tend to use them for magic tricks or to fool their friends, neither of which I was interested in.
So the idea that a backwoods psychic would even own a deck of these cards is a bit far-fetched to start with. She’d have a much easier time coming up with a standard deck of Tarot cards, which a person could actually use to give readings.
What amused me about all of this was that a central premise of the film seemed to be how misunderstood and alienated psychics tend to be, and yet the filmmakers clearly had no better understanding of how they operate than anybody else – nor did they bother to find out.
I waited anxiously throughout the movie to see how precisely the character was going to “read” with these unreadable cards, but apparently the producers didn’t know either.
The closest they got was a scene where the client said incredulously “Really? You can see that in the cards?” and Cate waved vaguely at the top row of the square she had laid out and replied “Oh yes, especially right in through here.”
Right in through WHERE now??
And what exactly did that particular section tell you, Ms. Blanchett?
“Well, I think you’re a little bit of a square, and the future’s looking a little wavy for you right now. But you’re going to arrive at a cross-roads soon, and everything will come full circle. In the end you’re going to be a star!”
Yeah. Well, maybe.
But probably in a far better movie than this one.
That much I can predict.