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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Tribute for M. Night Shyamalan

Given how high my passion for cinema is, I’m beyond embarrassed to admit that I only learned as much about M. Night Shyamalan as I did a few years ago. I had heard of him of course. The genius behind The Sixth Sense can’t go unnoticed regardless of whether you’ve seen his films or not. I’ve yet to encounter someone who hasn't heard of him.

Anyway, my journey to him began when I was in my room using my iPad and looking up Anya Taylor-Joy. I’ve admired her ever since her breakout performance in The Witch and have taken to looking her up daily, hoping for announcements regarding when and what her next projects will be. That particular morning, I read that she was officially confirmed to star in Split. To get ready for Split, I finally decided to treat myself to his previous films and what delicious treats they were!

You see, I’ve always considered watching films to be very much like eating because you are consuming something. I consider watching one film a day to be a very healthy diet. Watching four is like eating nothing but fast food for a month.

I had no obligations to be anywhere that day and I really felt I ought to get to know him as a director before he fed me as well as audiences across the world a film I knew Anya would excel in. I considered watching just two but then I thought to myself: You know what? I’m sick and tired of watching what I eat. I want to pig out, and so over the course of that very Sunday, I dined on The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs and The Village.

You know how when your on a strict diet and you feel terrible and full for overeating calories? Well, the Shyamalan buffet I had subjected myself to left me feeling more hungry and guilty that I had waited so long to explore his brilliance. You really can learn so much about a filmmaker through interviews so instead of wallowing in guilt, I ate some more. I watched eleven different interviews and I completely fell in love with him as a person.

He has countless admirable qualities. He’s intelligent, bold, observant and of course, passionate. What stood out to me the most however, was how genuine he is. He is genuine in a very humbling manner. If there are moments as a filmmaker when he’s unsure of himself, he doesn't let it destroy the vision his mind contains.

The way he lets people know that about himself is applaudable to me because as individuals, we do live in a confusing world, you know? We do live in a world where we’re not always sure of our original envisions and we do sometimes doubt our creations. The selflessness of ignoring professional insecurities in order to share his craft is a beautiful lesson to teach and I’m in awe of him for teaching it so kindly.

I also have to hand it to him for the stories he tells because the world we live in changes all the time and it’s often scary. His films have so many themes that always reveal themselves as though you're slowly unwrapping a delicate fabric. From the harm of denial in Signs to prejudice fears of what we don’t know in Lady In The Water to the necessity of letting go of personal anger in The Visit and to the importance of finding your voice and using it in Split and Glass.

The themes of Split and Glass stuck with me the most. From what I’ve read, his concept of the broken being the more evolved has sparked some controversy but I feel there is a massive truth to it that has been ignored for the longest time and I marvel at his genuine feelings that it needed to be brought to light.

I also respect his generosity in allowing his actors to grow through the experiences of filming. I read a week ago that Anya Taylor-Joy learned about directing from him. I read countless articles about his friendship with her and it broke my heart in a good way to say the least.

His generosity in allowing her to grow as an artist, to take her under his wing and to have her collaborate with him on the films and her character as an equal is so beautiful I’m actually crying right now. To genuinely care about her opinions, what she has to say and to straight up ask: What would you change? or what would you do differently here? Well, that just says everything about Shyamalan doesn't it? Not just as a filmmaker but as a human being.

I’ve said he’s genuine countless times now but that’s the biggest word I have to describe him. I recently saw a photo of him on set and the smile he had was so calming. You can just tell how proud he is of what he does and that’s important. It’s important to be proud of what you do. His pride is not boastful but beautiful and any fan of his can see that.

Shyamalan, if you're reading this, I want you to know how appreciative I am of your work. It’s very rare for mainstream thrillers to contain the themes and subject matters you always portray so exotically. Cinema is not just an art form: It’s a way of life and so I consider the occupation of a filmmaker of any kind to be an occupation of service. M. Night Shyamalan, I sincerely thank you for your service. You are a very kind individual who has all of my respect and I deeply look forward to your future projects. Especially those with Anya Taylor-Joy. The mutual respect you have for each other is very inspiring and I can tell she’s not done working with you. I’m confident she never will be and who can blame her? The respect you show her is how every director ought to treat their actors.

You really are a beautiful example to the film industry that is changing but not fast enough. Sincerest congratulations to your success as an artist. You deserve every joy you have.

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