Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Unbreakable (#396)

Unbreakable (2000) was M. Night Shyamalan's second major film, and is arguably his best.  Concerning the matter of Bruce Willis discovering his own superhero origin, it's highly unusual for the genre it is technically a part of, more contemplative and deliberate, only reaching what may be counted as typical moments at the very end, when Samuel L. Jackson is finally revealed as the villain.  For a lot of people, Shyamalan seemed to be exposed as a one-trick pony after the wild success of The Sixth Sense as a visionary with only one vision, telling one story until the very end of his movies, when it's revealed that something else has been going on the whole time.  That is certainly one way to view his films.  The other way is to acknowledge that Shyamalan is looking at the world in a bold and compelling new way, peering behind the curtains of reality and perception, so that there are at least two ways to view every situation: 1) the way we see it the first time, and 2) the way things may actually be.  In a way he is constantly asking us to look beyond the ordinary, and he uses elaborate plots as metaphors to suggest that the world may be more extraordinary than we are sometimes willing to admit.  Bruce Willis, for instance, could very easily have continued living a fairly mundane life, until a series of circumstances (and not to mention the mad Mr. Glass) finally force him to accept that there's so much more to him than he ever really appreciated.  Unbreakable, then, is the quintessential Shyamalan message, boiled down to its most simple statement, that you do not have to settle for a life that is not as good as it can be.  Maybe you see ghosts, maybe you hold the key to stopping an alien invasion, maybe your sheltered world is hidden in something far bigger, maybe fairy-tales are real, maybe the key to escaping the end of the world is knowing when to create a little distance.  Stop fighting what you don't understand.  Figure it out and embrace it, because your greatest failing can turn out to be your greatest strength.

Star Trek bonus!

U is for Uxbridge, Kevin
(from Star Trek: The Next Generation)
(photo from durfee.net)
I rarely include images on my blog, but Kevin Uxbridge, from the episode "The Survivors," merits one thanks to a disproportionately awesome wardrobe.  Maybe it looks a little saggy now, but just imagine what he looked like in his prime.  Kevin is actually a Douwd, an omnipotent being who ended up falling in love with a mortal and decided to pursue a mortal life with her.  Only problem was she was murdered by aliens, and his response was to wipe out their whole species.  Picard runs into Kevin and a facsimile of his dead wife, and eventually figures out what's going on.  I was always impressed with the scope of this character, and so he gets to be one of the few relatively obscure characters referenced in this A-to-Z effort.


S. L. Hennessy said...

Wow, another Unbreakable fan. Awesome. I posted on it too for my U. You have some excellent taste (Road to Perdition, Quantum of Solace...). Definite new follower.

Michael Abayomi said...

Once again, I couldn't have said it better. I'm glad to see that a lot of people out there still appreciate movies like this one. You know, the great ones that don't have any sparkly vampires in them. :D

Spacerguy said...

Kevin Uxbridge just couldn't fool the angry husnock who kept coming back and Rishon dies fighting defending her homeland. Its such a sad story but at least it has a happy ending.

Tony Laplume, Scouring Monk said...

"Survivors" is one of my favorite episodes.

Glad there was more love for Unbreakable than I thought!

DL Hammons said...

I'm another Unbreakable fan! The only knock on it I have, and its the same with most of M Night's films, is that its too deliberate at times...moving along at a snails pace. But I loved the story, and the ending!


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