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The Sixth Sense to Glass: Nobody can Write M Night Shyamalan Off Just Yet

After an initial successful run at the box office that came with The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000) and Signs (2002), unfortunately, Shyamalan’s career took a downfall.

Devasheesh Pandey |

Updated:January 17, 2019, 5:51 PM IST
The Sixth Sense to Glass: Nobody can Write M Night Shyamalan Off Just Yet
M Night Shyamalan (Image: Reuters).
M Night Shyamalan, once Hollywood’s cherished child in supernatural and thriller genre, can be credited with spending a fair deal of time in the limelight and off it.

After an initial successful run at the box office that came with The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000) and Signs (2002), unfortunately, Shyamalan’s career took a downfall. With his latest offering Glass, set to release on January 18, he will aim at reclaiming his rightful place in mainstream film circuit and break even with his fans and critics.

The reason that film lovers flock the theatres to see an ‘M Night Shyamalan film’ stems from the fact that he has a compelling and unique storytelling technique, often bolstered by an appropriate cast that gives a desirable performance, lending voice to his vision, which is, to say the least, bringing us face to face with reality when we least expect it. And, of course, the twist ending.

This started with The Sixth Sense. The objective representation of Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is so subtle, right from the start of the film that we barely prepare for the climax. The apparent reality is unreal. The impact is immense and long lasting. Only the thrill is real. In Unbreakable, David Dunn (again Bruce Willis) is so pathetically caught up in his routine life that the idea of being an avenger seems absurd, to us and to him.

Who could have thought that a man whose bones could shatter at the slightest of injuries (Samuel L Jackson as Mr Glass) can turn out to be a super villain?

Split, which continuously builds up to the final act, succeeds because Kevin (James McAvoy) hoards so many personalities that The Beast is his only way out, sanely speaking. Also, James McAvoy was relentless in a memorable performance.

But Shyamalan’s film career has seen its misses, and how! His career slipped into a downward spiral after 2006, hampering his credibility. He directed several unsuccessful films like Lady in the water (2006), The Happening (2008), The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013). In the process of finding his own space, clout and audience, he landed up in a reclusive space.

These films saw him sailing off into unchartered territories with no real purpose or insight, which was there in his earlier films, and were merely lackluster. During and after this course of time, he was written off by many producers and studios, to the extent that he had to self- finance his last three films, including Glass.

Looking back at Shyamalan’s filmography, it becomes evident that he is someone who has played the type and against it. His early films earned him, in equal measures, adulation from movie goers and acclaim from the critics and award juries, while also presenting him on to the world stage as a promising writer-director. His later films brought him down.

Even though it might appear so, but M Night’s career is far from over. Split was impactful and cemented his return to form. It became a massive box office success and paved way for Glass.

Glass, which is the third and final installment of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy, ties up with Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2017). It is a much anticipated film of the writer-director’s career, now spanning over two decades.

It was a delight for the watchers when at the end of Split there was mention of ‘the crazy guy in a wheelchair’. Adding a name to the mysterious entity was none other than David Dunn, (Bruce Willis’ character in Unbreakable) who turned up on screen, without prior caution, for the first time in 17 years. And just like that the hysteria became palpable.

It remains to be seen if Glass lives up to its hype and whether or not it offers Shyamalan the much needed respite. If not, then he is heading to Apple TV for a series in the thriller genre which is currently in the pre-production stage.

Glass has an enviable star-cast with the likes of Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Willis, James McAvoy and Sarah Paulson in leading roles. Brought to India by Disney India, the film will open this Friday.

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