M. Night Shyamalan is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is known for making films with contemporary supernatural plots and twist endings. His most well-received films include the supernatural thriller ‘The Sixth Sense’ released in 1999, the superhero thriller ‘Unbreakable’ in 2000, the science fiction thriller ‘Signs’ in 2002, and the historical thriller ‘The Village’ in 2004. For ‘The Sixth Sense’, he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director. In July 2000, on ‘The Howard Stern Show’, Shyamalan said he had met with Steven Spielberg and was in early talks to write the script for the fourth Indiana Jones film. This would have given him a chance to work with his longtime idol. After the film fell through, he later said it was too “tricky” to arrange and “not the right thing” for him to do.
His name was linked with the 2001 film ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, but it conflicted with the production of ‘Unbreakable’. In July 2006, while doing press tours for ‘Lady in the Water’, he had said he was still interested in directing one of the last two Harry Potter films: “The themes that run through it…the empowering of children, a positive outlook…you name it, it falls in line with my beliefs”, he said. “I enjoy the humor in it. When I read the first Harry Potter and was thinking about making it, I had a whole different vibe in my head of it”. His 2002 film ‘Signs’, where he also played Ray Reddy, gained both critical and financial success. His next movie ‘The Village’ released in 2004 received mixed reviews from the critics, but turned out to be a financial success.
Afterward, he released a series of poorly received but sometimes financially successful movies, including the dark fantasy ‘Lady in the Water’ in 2006, the eco-thriller ‘The Happening’ in 2008, the film adaptation of ‘The Last Airbender’ in 2010, and the science fiction film ‘After Earth’ in 2013. Following the financial failure of ‘After Earth’, his career was revived with the successful release of the found footage horror film ‘The Visit’ in 2015 and the psychological thriller ‘Split’ in 2016. In addition to his directorial work, he was a producer for the horror film ‘Devil’ in 2010. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Fox science fiction series ‘Wayward Pines’, for which he executive produced and directed the pilot episode.
M. Night Shyamalan has been one of the most interesting figures in contemporary Hollywood. His spectacular rise, his infamous fall and his exciting resurrection may not share the same intensity as his finest works, but they make up for a brilliant case study. He isn’t a great auteur, far from being one, but like most of them he possesses a distinct knack for style. The style comes with substance too, and though he does get carried away with scripts which can only be completely comprehended by him and sometimes takes years for hardcore fans to analyse, these topsy-turvy ambiguous narratives are bound to keep you on the edge of the seat.
Out of the catchy camerawork, ethereal soundtracks and startling scenes in his movies, the one thing that has gifted him both acclaim and lemons, is his endings. No matter how strange the movie is, we know the ending solves it, even though at times it is anti-climatic. Having a wicked ending in every feature isn’t a bad thing, if it is executed properly. Alfred Hitchcock says “When you finish the script, the film is perfect. But in shooting it you lose perhaps 40 percent of your original conception “.