Archive for October 26th, 2008
I am dumbfounded. 90% of the reviews and comments about M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” movie were negative. I watched the movie tonight on our Blu-Ray and I found it to be a brilliant sample of art. I loved its atmosphere and the message(s).
The problem is that viewers (including critics, from what it seems) don’t think hard. They thought that the message of the movie was “nature taking revenge on humanity — be kind to the environment”. And so by having plants releasing toxins to kill people, viewers found that plot ridiculous. While the nature stuff is the visible “message” of the movie (and it’s not even proven in the movie that nature was the culprit, it’s just the No1 suspect), it also had a second message that could only be seen if you look at the signs the director gives you. And that message is “don’t be lonely, don’t fear to love, trust others”.
The director masterfully starts the movie in Central Park, and we later see that “the happening” is happening in the metropolitan area, which is where millions of people live. As the movie progressive, the heroes find themselves to smaller and smaller groups of people. In fact, through their panic, they start to think that the smaller the group they belong to (and lonelier they can be), the safer it is. But as we will see later with Mrs Jones’ death, this is not necessarily true.
Tell-tell signs about the “loneliness” message in the film is when Julian says “don’t hold my daughter’s hand unless you mean it”, the ring that changes colors depending on the emotion of the person that wears it (do we need a device to tell us what we feel?), and it’s very clear when it shows how lonely modern people are when the two heroes are communicating via the sound tube (which is a separatative kind of communication). Only when they overcome their loneliness and fears, start to trust each other, get together and show true love to each other, they become unaffected from the toxin. Mrs Jones died because, even if she was alone in the field and therefore shouldn’t have been affected, she had such a poisonous mind that she didn’t feel love for anyone. She was the epitome of loneliness. She didn’t trust anybody. In fact, Mrs Jones’ character is like the “bad boss” at the end of a computer game level. She was everything that’s wrong with modern society, even if she was living all alone far away from the society (a very artistic way to show that if you hate society for what it is and so you don’t contribute to it, you contribute to all that’s wrong in it, so nothing gets fixed in the end).
Basically, what the director wants to say is that our society sucks. But it’s not going to get fixed if we remove ourselves from it or from our loved ones. Fixing starts with the person closer to you.
Finally, it’s very possible that the “crazy” plant-owner guy and his wife lived too, although we don’t see that in the movie. If we have seen that, maybe it would have been more obvious to viewers what the movie is really all about. I believe that the director could have made a few things more clear for more bozos to understand, so I will take a point out of my final movie rating for his shortsightedness: 9/10.
I expect this movie to hit cult status in 20 years or so.