M. Night ShyalamanEditM. Night Shyamalan was not an overnight success. He was born in India but soon moved to the United States where he was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The son of two doctors, his passion for film came to him at a very young age. However, Shyamalan's success did not come to him immediately. His first film Praying with Anger (1992) was based on a trip he took back to India where he was born. He had to raise all the money for the film; he produced the movie, directed it, and even starred in it. His second movie, Wide Awake he wrote and directed. The movie was shot in Philadelphia at the Catholic school where he once attended. Even though his parents had a different religion, they allowed him to go there because they wanted to teach him discipline and give him a solid education. Shyamalan's first big hit, The Sixth Sense managed to gross $26.7 million the first week. The Sixth Sense made him the popular director he is today, as the film grossed $673 million worldwide. Shyalaman earned an Oscar nomination for both his writing and directing for the film. Even with all that success people questioned his skills as a producer because the movie did not contain enough horror.
Shyalaman has many trademarks in his work. Many of his movies have two ordinary people who happen to have an unusual ability or experience events that are unsual and frightening. His films also focus on mentor-initiate relationship, as one of the characters has connections to a child or is a child. The one who happens to be connected to the child always has marital difficulties. He often uses bright colors especially red to signify a clue or crucial item in the movie. Water for Shyamalan represents a sign of death or weakness. In The Village, the character Finton becomes too scared to continue on with Ivy on her quest to the villages, when it starts to rain. In The Sixth Sense, the character Malcom Crowe's killer is hiding in a bathroom near water. Instead of utilizing the traditional cleansing, redemptive element, water becomes a harbinger of ill omen to come.
The movies that Shyamalan makes, shows us that he might believe in a greater force than we are aware of. He helps plant the idea in our mind that we are capable of doing things greater then we think. In The Sixth Sense the little boy has the ability to talk to the spirits. In another one of his movies, The Last Airbender, the boy has the ability to control water. Shyamalan continues to produce popular movies and will be remembered for his untraditional plots, suspenseful twists, and for skirting the line between fantasy and science fiction.
The Village and GenreEdit
Critics often write The Village off as yet another M. Night Shyamalan suspense thriller, along the lines of The Sixth Sense or Signs. The film has the normal characteristics of a suspense thriller. The camera work and music often leave the audience on the edge of their seat and the plot doesn’t scare as much as it excites. However, The Village sets itself apart from its predecessors with its strong romantic theme.
The movie centers around two story lines that define the genre of the film. The first story line involves the conflict between the people of Covington and the monsters that inhabit the woods. The romance of Lucius and Ivy makes up the second story line. These stories and the style of M. Night Shyamalan makes The Village the quintessential horror-romance film. Horror movies are defined by many characteristics, some of which The Village follows and others it does not. Most horror films include the theme of "unfamiliar invading the familiar" (Film Genre 7). In the movie, this theme is fairly transparent. The village acts as the familiar while the woods and the monsters that inhabit them are clearly the unfamiliar. Horror films also "contrast the known with the unknown" (Film Genre 7). In The Village, the color red represents the evil of the forest and the villagers call it the bad color. The village is in stark contrast to the woods with yellow serving as its thematic color. In addition, the film follows the horror staple of "nameless anxieties and fears" (Film Genre 7). Everyone in the village, aside from the elders, lives in a world of fear that they cannot explain. They know little about the monsters except that they live in the woods and that they are not supposed to anger them by traveling past their borders. The tension this creates appears in the multiple meetings between Lucius and the elders. Lucius does not see why he can't go to the towns and, unlike the rest of the villagers, he is not taken in by this specter of fear nobody understands. While Shyamalan's work could be considered a horror film based on the evidence provided, it would be foolish to classify it as solely belonging to one genre. The film is much more complex and the strong romantic relationship between Lucius and Ivy brings a new dimension to the story. Romance films are obviously characterized by "affectionate involvement of the main characters" (Romance Films). Romance is a broad genre, however, and the sub-genre that The Village portrays is the sacrificial love romance. Both Lucius and Ivy can be seen in the film sacrificing themselves for each other. Lucius's moment comes when the monsters come to the village during the wedding and he risks his life to save Ivy. Then, when Lucius is stabbed by Noah, Ivy risks her life trying to pass through the woods to find him medicine. While it would be unfair to classify M. Night Shyamalan's The Village into one specific genre, it does successfully pull together the horror and romance film genres into a satisfying package.
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