Unbreakable, Split, Glass: Welcome to the “Shyamalan Universe”

Collage Shyamalan
Samuel L Jackson Unbreakable
Gaumont Buena Vista International (GBVI)
Hedwig Split Shyamalan James McAvoy
Universal Pictures International France
Glass mc Avoy Willis L. jackson
Collage Shyamalan
Samuel L Jackson Unbreakable
Hedwig Split Shyamalan James McAvoy
Glass mc Avoy Willis L. jackson

UNBREAKABLE with Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson (2016)

Genre: Whisper drama.

What is it about ? : a taciturn man misses out on his life, even after miraculously escaping a train disaster. a gallery owner suffering from a bone disease pushes him to open his eyes to his condition: he is in reality a superhero who does not know himself…

What is it really about? : Of a spiritual crisis. The difficulty of waking up every morning in a world where you don’t know your place or your value. Old forgotten omens, great revelations… like all the films of the first period Shyamalan, Unbreakable reinvents the Saturday evening thriller in a subliminal Christic mass, adhering to a profession of faith which is that of the cinema of the origins (to see, it must first believe). we miss this director, enlightened, “pure”, melodramatic, rigorous.
From a superheroic point of view, the film can prove frustrating since it stops in a certain way at the end of the first act, with the meeting of the hero and his adversary. As if Superman ended with Clark arriving in Metropolis.

The link that makes trilogy: Added at the last minute to clarify the somewhat abrupt finale, a superimposed text announces that the police have raided the home of Elijah Price / Samuel L. Jackson and that he is now residing in an asylum for Mad Criminals, which in itself is a taste of Glass. Split is also evoked: through the discourse held by Elijah’s mother on the two types of villains encountered in the comics (“On the one hand the real threat, who fights the hero with his mind, and on the other the soldier, who fights him with his fists”), and on the comic strip that Unbreakable never ceases to exhibit, representing a vigilante sticking up against a huge ghoul, i.e. the exaggerated versions (“digested by the commercial machine”) of Bruce “the Overseer” Willis and James “the Beast” McAvoy.

Budget: $75 million.

Worldwide box office: $248 million.

SPLIT with James McAvoy & Anya Taylor-Joy (2016)

Genre: Hitchcockian pastiche in the basement.

What is it about ? : Dennis looks like a serial killer. His job is to kidnap young girls. Patricia runs the operations and Hedwig, 9 years old, does not know what to think… Dennis, Hedwig, Patricia and a few others live in Kevin’s deranged mind, and all prepare to welcome their 24th roommate: the beast.

What is it really about? : Of transhumanist philosophy. Slightly smoky eugenics. Unpopular theories that people with mental illnesses are probably superior to us and foreshadow the next stage of evolution… After all, why not? we made thrillers for less. From an industrial point of view, Split shows Shyamalan’s astonishing ability to reconstruct, in a harsh and ascetic environment, an essentially degenerate, yet supreme, version of himself. And also tells the incredible audacity which consists in hiding, in a serial killer film having nothing to do with sauerkraut, the sequel to another film fifteen years old. That, yes, it’s badass. Never seen.

The link that makes trilogy: The last three minutes, which bring Bruce Willis back to the screen and make the link between Unbreakable and Glass. Earlier, Shyamalan already sows a clue in the train depot scene. Before transforming into the Beast in one of the carriages, Kevin places a bouquet of yellow flowers on the tracks in memory of his dad, killed in a train crash. The same crash of which David Dunn was the only and unbreakable survivor…

Budget: $9 million.

Worldwide box office: $278.5 million.

GLASS with Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, & James McAvoy (2019)

Genre: Crazy psychological thriller.

What is it about ? : Twenty years after his meeting with Mr. Glass, David Dunn leads a peaceful existence as a seller of household appliances. At night (and even during the day in fact), supported by his jack-of-all-trades son (Spencer Treat Clark, who has grown well), he fights crime in Philadelphia under a hood (the same one Bruce Willis already wore in his remake of A vigilante in the city, but let’s move on). Tracing the trail of a kidnapped cheerleader, David stumbles upon the Beast’s lair and the sequel turns to a boot contest. But the two specimens are quickly subdued by the men of Dr. Staple (Sarah Paulson), a psychiatrist specializing in cases of “superheroic dissociations”. Head to the Institution, a charming fortress where Elijah “Mr. Glass” Price has patiently awaited them for two decades… The group therapy can begin.

What is it really about? : Of capes, tights, superforce, schizophrenic delirium… this time, no way to hide behind the melodrama and frills: Glass is a pure superhero film. Not an origin story disguised as a Dreyer-style pastoral, nor an exercise in style in the form of a mental thriller. No: it will be a question of superpowers, the bad guys will team up to counter the good guys, and there will be damage! Figuratively speaking, of course. We’re still talking about a M. Night Shyamalan movie. “What if a pregnant woman could actually lift a car to save her child? The three films strive to provide tangible justifications for this urban myth,” says the filmmaker. Expect twisted debates on the theory of MacLean (the “triune brain”), the Greek gods and the disappearance of bees, interspersed with stretching sessions… At this point, the only twist that could really knock us out would be to find out at the very last minute that Glass was NOT a superhero movie, but a Raymond Depardon documentary about glassblowing. Or a 3D painting.

The link that makes trilogy: Everything! Glass is the sequel to the first and the sequel to the second, but not the cumulative sequel of the two, since the two films in question have nothing to do with each other. Its nature as a double sequel “makes” a trilogy. The very idea that it exists.

Budget: $20 million.

At M. Night Shyamalan, one film can hide another.

The first installment ends where other superhero movies begin and the trailer for the third is hidden inside the second… Welcome to the “Shyamalan Universe” !

On the occasion of the rebroadcast ofUnbreakable on TFX, this Sunday, we share our analysis of this successful trilogy.

Glass: From the great Shyamalan [Critique]

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