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Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Shyamalan  

I've been getting a little feedback about my ability to condense a film into just one or two words describing its motivation. This skill was taught to me by Ivana Chubbuck when she used to run a branch of her acting school here in Vancouver. Every scene, every story, every action has motivation. Discovering that motivation is the goal of the audience. Instilling motivation is the duty of the filmmakers, crew, and actors.

To quickly run through one or two: M. Night Shyamalan stunned me with The Sixth Sense. Why? Because it tapped so deeply into the roots of Tibetan Buddhism - to let go, to accept death and loss, to transcend fear. The young boy sees the world as populated with dead people. Real dead people? Yes. But also it suggests the living dead, and how all of us have died along the way. Everyone takes parts of us, with their selfishness; and there is no way around it. It's hard to watch, because we all want to do something to make it not true. The child suffers, the child grows, the child struggles to hold on to his innocence. The motivation is to look inwards, find the child, and console.

In a fantastic turn, Shyamalan went on to write/direct the exact opposite motivation in his next film UnBreakable (Great website, by the way!). Here we have a character who doesn't know he's alive, but believes that he's dead. The message here is of ability, strength, possibility. Even the evil villain seethes with affirmation. These two films (Signs really sucked) combine to make a remarkable series in understanding how movies that motivate work.

On the note of strength, I'd like to recommend The Perfect Storm. As with WindTalkers, it's one of the many movies I recommend over the critics, The Perfect Storm was completely about trying; and facing adversary. There's a line at the end, spoken by Mark Wahlberg, that completely *BAM* hits home and completes an otherwise floundering movie (I'm not going to spoil it for you.) Here is an example of a theme brought so strong to the forefront that even an otherwise sloppy movie can really shine.

It's also a good example how the same motivation can be expressed in quite different ways. In UnBreakable it's subtle, in The Perfect Storm over the top. Both films energize and inspire us to try, with all our might, to rise up - at least physically. Anyways, I've got to run, ya'll let me know if you want a blog on anything specific, k?

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