K-PAX Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The film K-PAX received undeservedly little attention in the year of its appearance. In 2001, critics praised him rather restrainedly, and the audience practically missed him without endowing him with attention. But it’s not the quality of the film, but the fact that K-PAX turned out to be one of those “quiet” masterpieces that appear quite imperceptibly in the cinema, but are extremely firmly established in lists like “every movie lover should see” or “top 50 best psychological dramas” or similar in the field of fantasy.

The plot of the film K-PAX

The protagonist of the story appears at the station literally out of nowhere. No one pays attention to him, except for a poor cripple, who for some reason looks at the man with surprise and admiration.

An unknown person knocks down an elderly woman and disappears. The protagonist approaches her and helps her up, but the police mistake his actions for an attack. When they try to find out the man’s identity, it turns out that he believes himself to be an alien from the planet Ka-Pax. Naturally, they take him for a madman, but the man behaves surprisingly kindly and restrainedly.

Prot, as the strange man introduced himself, was placed in a psychiatric hospital. They are trying to find out his real identity, since no information about the past life has been preserved in the man’s memory.

A talented psychiatrist Mark Powell works with him. In his practice, this is not the first “alien”, so there is nothing new for the doctor in such symptoms.

However, in the course of work, the doctor increasingly doubts, since Prot does not show other symptoms of mental abnormalities. He argues very sensibly, shows interesting judgments about the essence of interpersonal relations. In particular, he says that humans are the only species in the universe that does not have a natural sense of what is good and what is bad.

Moreover, Prot has a healing effect on other patients. Children, mentally ill people, animals reach out to this strange person, as if feeling a special light in him.

Prot himself claims that with the help of light he travels between the planets. He puts forward coherent and logical theories of how the universe works. He says that the body he is using is not his real body, as he needs to breathe oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.

When Dr. Powell gathers a council of astronomers and physicists so that Prot can demonstrate his home planet on a star chart, the man makes an incredibly detailed drawing of the starry sky and marks the sector in which scientists suspected the possibility of habitable planets.

The Doctor, almost completely convinced that the unusual patient is really an alien, uses hypnosis to reach the residual memories of Prot’s past personality. Previously, the man’s name was Robert Porter. He had a wife and daughter who tragically died in the attack of a dangerous criminal. The man could not survive this and jumped into the river. His body could not be found.

Meanwhile, Prot is going to his home planet, 5 years after the tragic events in Porter’s life. He can take one of the hospital patients with him to his planet. One girl mysteriously disappears from the hospital. Prot himself falls into a coma without the possibility of getting out of it.

The meaning of the movie K-PAX

Psychologically, the film is very complex, as complex in its structure. He does not give answers to whether Prot was a seriously injured person who invented a new personality for himself, and forced the old one deep into the subconscious so as not to suffer, or was he really a representative of a more mature, more humane alien race.

The following facts speak for the fact that Prot is the same Porter:

consonance of names. Changing his personality, a person subconsciously left himself a similar name so that at least something from his past life would remain with him; the philosophy of the inhabitants of the planet K-PAX is very similar to that which a person would choose, traumatized by the death of loved ones. There are no families, marriages, close interpersonal relationships on K-PAX. Everyone is simply and impersonally kind to one another; the protagonist does not disappear, only his consciousness disappears at the end of the film; at the end of the film, the doctor finds explanations for Prot’s knowledge of astronomy. The man was fond of her as a child.

The following facts speak for the fact that Prot is an alien:

his knowledge of the field is too precise for the amateur; not all people react to it in the same way – children and sick people see in it something that others do not see (like animals); the girl he chose to travel to K-PAX really disappears without a trace.

The meaning of the ending K-PAX

At the end of the film, the protagonist declares that he is going to a full planet. On the day of his intended departure, he falls into a coma, without the possibility of ever waking up. The girl he chose to travel with also disappears without a trace.

This ending can have two interpretations. The first, fantastic option: the alien left the earthly body, took his companion with him and went to a planet free from earthly tragedies.

The second, realistic interpretation of the finale, suggests that a mentally ill, suffering person has finally found peace. His mind was completely dead. The girl ran away from the hospital in search of happiness.

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