Enjoy This Deep Dive into the Life and Work of M. Night Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan directing Bruce Willis Credit: Blumhouse
M. Night Shyamalan is an enigmatic filmmaker. This video essay unlocks his riddles. 

Being No Film School's resident Philadelphia expert, I was excited when this video dissecting the career trajectory of M. Night Shyamalan crossed my desk. I have admired Shyamalan's work since I was a kid. He feels like one of the few directors who came of age and into prominence at the exact time I was watching and falling in love with movies. 

That's why I thoroughly enjoyed this edition of Movies with Mikey, which takes us through Shyamalan's life, from student films to The Sixth Sense, Split, and many of his other titles. 

Check out this video from FilmJoy, and let's talk after. 

Dissecting the Life and Work of M. Night Shyamalan 

This video really made me want to read a book that's a deep dive on the director. So much of his career was spent telling us he was the twist guy, but there's actually much more here. We have humanist stories about people going through trauma or trying to overcome their largest fears. 

There are layers I don't think people have talked too much about, like how he always balances a wry sense of humor while incorporating hard genres, such as horror, thriller, or even fantasy. 

Another thing I appreciate is how focused his movies are on character. Take something like Signs, which asks that audience to examine their own faith while simultaneously showing us a family that lost belief in one another and a higher power. 

Or even a movie like The Sixth Sense, which shows children and parental trauma on several levels. 

Another thing that transcends the movies is his choices in cinematography. Shyamalan is always pushing boundaries, working with people like Deakins to make sure the look and feel of the movie are fitting of the themes and story. Look at how The Village uses visuals and cinematography to deceive us of the twists within the story. We see a scene lit by gas or firelight. So many natural hues, and the darkness really feels opaque, like we are in olden times. 

Everything is calculated and chosen to accentuate the story. 

What were some parts of the video you enjoyed? Let us know in the comments.      

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There is something about this style of film criticism that rubs me the wrong way. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's like this guy is always thinking in such meta terms that he doesn't allow himself to be emersed in a film. The feeling I get is he's too obsessed with taking everything out of context because believing in a movie would be too silly for him.

Not that his opinions aren't valid, he can think whatever he wants to, but his style of journalism is equivalent to recutting the fight club trailer to make it look like a rom-com just because... I don't know, it's probably funny?

Did anyone else get these vibes?

May 5, 2021 at 12:12PM

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