I was a late-comer to Sixth Sense, I caught it on DVD as my first introduction to the creative genius of Shyamalan.
Thus far, all of the movies that M. Night Shyamalan has released have ranked as some of my most favorite. His directorial style and presentation has been impressive & captivating. I look forward to each release with his name stamped on it. In my house, his name means "quality work."
With each release you definitely get the impression that here is a guy who really loves to make movies, from the actors he chooses to work with, the locations he shoots, the props used, and onward to most minute details. No compromises. He is passionate about it all.
After all that though, the thing that impresses me most are the stories he presents in these films. He may be a filmmaker first and foremost. However, the one aspect that sets him above the rest to me are the stories he chooses to tell.
It is the stories that captivate me the most in his work. I have the impression that if a story doesn't cut it, he's not making the film.
Now, of the films he's made (that I have seen) he has written virtually all of them: The Sixth Sense; Unbreakable; Signs; The Village; Lady in the Water all have that one thing in common--the solid base of a powerful story. (Apparently he wrote the screenplay for Stuart Little, a nice movie but unoriginal, relying more on effects and the actors involved I believe then the story. Still, as I say, a nice movie if unmemorable in my opinion.)
Like most, I enjoy a good action movie with stunning effects, but I won't watch them repeatedly in most cases. For me, the intricacies of a well written & crafted storyline will win the day every time.
Not everyone shares this view unfortunately which is probably why more movies with this element are not written these days. Apparently Lady in the Water was not as well received as it should have been. I don't read movie reviews or watch review shows so I am basing this on the observation of others. I have to ask, what's not to like? Ooops, it had action. It had effects. It had some killer acting. But not enough--particularly action I suppose. The story was central, and I guess that wasn't enough for some critics?
Who cares? Well, I do. Simply for the fact I mention above. If story based movies are not well received, less of them will be made. It's a real shame and it diminishes our culture. How many cop & gangster, alien & terminator shows do we really need? Let's find some balance here please.
My favorite recent television show, Heroes, falls in line with this balance. I love the storyline. I love the plot twists. The first season of that show, and the ending was simply amazing. I was hoping beyond hope that they (the writers) could make it work--that they could, particularly, make the ending work. And they did! It ended so well to me that if they never had another season for whatever reason it still would have been one of the best television runs I have ever seen. The story worked. The writers did it. Incredible.
So I end here. Writers go forth! You rule. When you make it work, we all win. Tell us the stories that entertain. Tell us the stories that captivate. Tell us the stories that inspire, that motivate. Tell us the stories that matter.
Then hope the producers don't ruin your work...