The Shyamalama Exposed

July 21, 2006


In honor of the release of “Lady in the Water,” M. Night’s newest creation, I have decided to spill my humble opinions of this acclaimed director. His works are loved by many and also.. not so loved by many others. Of his films that I have seen (6th Sense, Unbreakable, The Village), I’m going to say that “6th Sense” was quite excellent and original way back then. However, the Shyamalama has taken this excellent first work and reworked its framework into making more mundane and less convincing films. People are eating up these “hero’s tale thrown in with a surprise ending” films. But not me.

Although I have heard “Lady in the Water” does NOT have the usual M. Night touch with the whole surprise ending shabang, I haven’t read many good things about it either. Now, before you yell and shout, “I’m a Shyamalan fan, and his films are all original,” let me convince you otherwise. Check out this 6th Sense and Unbreakable comparison:

First things first:

  • Both movies have Bruce Willis in them
  • Both movies have a little white boy actor
  • Both movies have a surprise ending

Looking deeper:

  • Both films create the setup: a main problem. ie. A little boy seeing dead people or Bruce Willis having superhero-like characteristics
  • Both films has a helper character, one who assists the character struggling with the problem. ie. Bruce Willis helps Haley Joel Osmont. Sam Jackson helps Bruce Willis
  • A character or hero, has a revelation/point of acknowledging his problem
  • Both films has a character or hero complete a trial – Little boy listens to and helps dead people, Bruce Willis saves the family from the bad dude
  • Both films has the surprise ending involving the other “helper” character, CATCHING YOU OFF GUARD

This analysis can also be applied to “The Village” loosely. The Shyamalama mixed things up a bit further since it was his 4th film. However, major elements still exist. Bryce Dallas Howard’s journey at the end of the film is the “hero’s trial,” and this time there is not one, but TWO surprises! The major final surprise involves the village elders (Wiliam Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, etc.) who I guess act as “helper characters” in the film.

In conclusion, “The 6th Sense” was cool the first time around.


2 Responses to “The Shyamalama Exposed”

  1. Dan Says:

    Haha… the Shyamalama.

  2. I’ve been kinda looking forward to seeing this film, because it does look a bit different from the others he’s done, IMO. I am not a rabid Shyamalama fan; I enjoyed “6th Sense,” as well as “Unbreakable”….”The Village” sucked-I liked the ending, but it was way too long and drawn out, and there needed to be some more substance there in the middle. I also hated “Signs,” but I did like how everything was tied together, ie the baseball bat, the glasses of water, etc.

    I do have to argue that most films, not just the Shyamalama’s, have a plot setup that follows the outline of your analysis–protagonist faces a dilemma, supporting characters arrive on scene to either help and/or thwart, the antagonist exists to help drive the storyline, as well as show an opposing force to the protag. An ephiphany is had, trials and tribulations must be gotten through; the antagonist completes said trial either victorious or as a failure with lessons learned. The end. Most films are very formulaic, I think those that don’t follow the specific plot formula either find themselves as surprise boxoffice hits down at the Indie moviehouse, or as failures, simply put.


    I’m really enjoying your blog, btw! Keep up the good work!

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