M. Night Shyamalan has made a career out of crafting complex, twist-filled stories, and this year's Glass was no exception.
[Spoilers for the film will follow, so be warned!]
Glass was marketed as a "comic-book thriller" set in the same universe as Shyamalan's previous films, Unbreakable and Split. The film brings together Bruce Willis' invincible David Dunn and James McAvoy's Beast for a climactic showdown, with Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah Price orchestrating the whole thing according to the comic book narratives he believes are actual history.
But Like Stories of Old posits that there's a deeper, hidden meaning in the film, beyond the more obvious allusions to comic book tropes and narratives. Watch the video below and see if you agree.
Shyamalan and Faith
The director has spoken about the importance of faith in his work, and how the notion of a spirit or life beyond death informs his storytelling.
Signs is the most overt example, as a film that deals with a Christian pastor who has lost faith after the death of his wife. But even in that story, characters are also seeking meaning in their relationships and finding their footing after trauma, which are more universal forms of spirituality.
Like Stories of Old notes that the same is the case for characters in Unbreakable and Split. They feel trapped, helpless, and aimless because of what they've experienced. They are seeking purpose and faith in something in order to fill that hole.
This idea can be seen at play in Split, when the Beast spares Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) because he sees she's been abused, and is, therefore, "pure" and "broken" like he is.
According to this philosophy, because the characters within this cinematic universe have suffered, they now have superpowers.
The video connects the actions of characters in Glass to religion in an additional way. Price wants to orchestrate chaos to bring forth more broken characters (or "the divine"), while the Beast's goal is to purify the world of those unworthy. Both types of violence have existed within real-life religion.
The Role of Doubt in Glass
Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) appears in Glass to pick apart the characters' faith in their powers by offering scientific explanations for the events of the films. She treats them as subjects suffering from delusions of grandeur. On a larger scale, her secretive group is responsible for controlling what they don't understand and stopping the potential violence posed by those with powers.
But, as the video points out, this in itself is another form of grandiosity—because they cannot stop the growth or spread of faith itself.
At the end of Glass, video evidence of the characters' powers is shared, which forms a "new faith" or a new reality for those in this cinematic universe.
The True Message
So, is the ultimate message of Glass about the persistence of faith and a connection to the infinite through suffering? That, no matter who tries to stifle or control it, faith will remain and generate both superheroes and supervillains?
Or is it about faith in self and faith in compassion and human connection being the most important part of existence? That even in suffering, weakness, and fear, faith and love will persist?
Or is Glass just an original comic-book movie that fell short for most audiences?
Let us know your thoughts. Then check out some of our other Shyamalan coverage. Go behind the scenes of Glass, learn how to make the Split title sequence, and listen to Shyamalan talk about film school.