Take Shelter Ending Explained & Plot Summary

The prophecy is akin to madness or is it possible to outsmart fate.

Jeff Nichols drama Take Shelter (2011) is a movie about how difficult it is to be a prophet. Or is he a madman?

A static, tense film is more likely for lovers of psychological stories with meaning: measured narration, bewitchingly unhurried development of events. Chronicle of the successive destruction of the successful life of the protagonist against the backdrop of natural disasters.

Intrigue: foggy

The main intrigue of the film history is what happens to the main character? The slogan of the film is “Madman or Prophet?” – 100% hit. The answer to this question will give us the key to understanding the meaning of the Shelter. We look carefully: while watching the film, the filmmakers slowly but surely lead the viewer to the idea that mental illness is destroying life. In general, all this is scary and sad.

Start: clear

By the age of 35, the life of Curtis La Forge was quite happy. Beloved wife Samantha, adored daughter Hannah, home, work – everything is harmonious. Even excellent medical insurance that should cover the costs of my daughter’s surgery. The friend’s assessment is quite true:

You have a good life, Curtis. I’m serious. In my opinion, this is the best praise for a man when, looking at his life, one can say: “She is good. This guy is doing everything right. “

But at some point, luck suddenly turns away, everything crumbles before our eyes. How does a successful, self-confident man turn into a loser, a complete loser in a short time?

Sleep as a premonition of trouble: cloudy

Against the background of the complete well-being of the hero, nightmares suddenly begin to haunt. Dreams, visions – a thunderstorm everywhere. Curtis’s nightmares always start with rain. In real life, delusions appear as visual and auditory hallucinations. There is not a cloud in the sky, but he hears thunderclaps. Suddenly panic rolls over, the hero simply suffocates.

What do these visions mean? In various interpretations of dreams, a thunderstorm is considered a sign, a warning from above. Or prophetic pictures of a real catastrophe from the future have been sent to the hero?

It’s hard to explain, but it’s not just dreams. This is the feeling. A premonition of something bad. Something’s wrong.

Losses: the clouds are gathering

The thunderstorm in Curtis’s nightmares is not alone. In a dream, a man or his daughter Hannah is attacked by those who were formerly friends: first a dog, later a friend. After such vivid dreams, Curtis takes action. The faithful dog first goes out into the street, and then completely leaves for his brother’s house. Friend Duward, at the request of Curtis himself, was transferred to another brigade, after which he really becomes an enemy. Who will be next? Wife, daughter? At the most inopportune moment for the family, La Forge loses his job. Now the daughter’s operation can be canceled.

As if distraught, Curtis builds a shelter from the elements, his goal is to protect, save the family from that terrible storm that he sees in his dreams again and again.

Financial problems as the cause of insanity

The burden of responsibility can drive a person crazy. Curtis’s mother raised her sons alone, completely without help. Could this eventually lead her to a mental disorder at the age of 30? The unhappy woman was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and she spends the rest of her life in an insane asylum.

Curtis is 35 years old, he is the only earner in the family. A good house, two cars, a house on the sea, as well as a deaf daughter who needs expensive medical care – the family financial support lies entirely on his shoulders. Is it easy to bear such responsibility? The parallels with the sad story of the mother are obvious.

Faced with his own strange dreams, Curtis begins to seriously worry: perhaps the disease was inherited, and dreams and visions are the first signs of insanity.


Hearken! An unprecedented storm is coming! And none of you are ready for this.

It is obvious to those around him: Curtis is crazy, his obsession does not amuse anyone. The insane hero clearly needs specialized treatment.

Curtis himself begins to doubt his own adequacy, especially since his mother is a long-term patient of a psychiatric hospital. An exemplary family man is worried about the question: how to control yourself and not harm your loved ones? The doctor and wife agree on one thing: Curtis La Forge is ill, he needs to be treated.

– I believe that he needs serious treatment at the clinic.

– Are you saying that I will have to leave my family?

– I want to say that you need good treatment.

Curtis practically agrees, agrees to everything for the welfare of his family.

Shelter from everything

The main goal of Curtis is to build a reliable safe shelter. To implement his plan, he is ready to take any risks, even taking another loan from a bank secured by a house. Considerable funds have been invested in the construction, water and sewerage have been installed, and provisions have been purchased. Grandiose plans are not discussed with his wife, the head of the family decides everything individually. Later, such actions almost lead to the destruction of the marriage.

What should the Shelter save from ? From natural disasters – or from your own fears, problems, from the complexities of the world around you. Is it possible to hide from fate at all, is there a universal shelter?

False alarm: sunny, completely calm

Day X is coming: a storm warning is announced, a storm begins. Curtis and his wife and daughter descend into the already built shelter and spend the night wearing gas masks.

But how difficult it is for the hero to open the door in the morning and leave the shelter. How scary. And Samantha demands:

You have to do it yourself.

She’s probably right. Opening the door means getting rid of your fears. You can’t hide from problems all the time, you need to open the door to meet life.

The gates to the world are open: the sky is clear, the sun is shining, silence. Everything was just a hassle, a delusion of a diseased brain.

And here is the ending: thunderstorm and apocalypse

On the advice of the doctor, the hero must spend some time away from the Shelter , which negatively affects the patient’s state of mind. In search of harmony, the family goes to rest on the seaside. But it is here, far from a safe haven, that Curtis and his wife and daughter overtake what he was so afraid of.

Incredibly, La Forge’s dreams turned out to be by no means symptoms of mental illness, but a foresight clue. However, the irony of fate is that you cannot get away from it, you cannot deceive, you cannot hide. Your worst nightmare comes when you don’t expect it. Nobody is ready for this.

The meaning of the film Take Shelter

The answer to the main question becomes clear by the end of the film. The protagonist is not insane, he has somehow looked into the future. How can you blame him for trying to save loved ones? Another thing is the practical value of this idea. Prophecy is akin to madness: people do not believe prophets, as well as madmen. Whether the foggy sign will help to survive is a big question, but it is quite capable of destroying real life. And no Shelter will save here.

Each person has his own lot, his own path must be traversed by himself. And it’s even good that the future is unknown to us. Remember the ancient commandment:

Do what you must and be what will be.

Do not try to influence what is intended. Live now.

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