M. Night Shyamalan – The Man Behind the Camera

Marjorie just blogged about one of my favorite horror movies, The Sixth Sense, but let’s talk about the man behind the camera. M. Night Shyamalan was born in 1970 in India but his parents (both doctors) soon moved the family to Penn Valley, Pennsylvania. He attended a private Episcopalian school in Philadelphia. Even as a youngster, he had a love for filmmaking. He attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he acquired his middle name, Night.

His film career started out very slowly. His first film, Praying with Anger, was shown at the Toronto Film Festival in 1992, but never distributed. His second, Wide Awake, starred Rosie O’Donnell and Camryn Manheim, but was not a commercial success. He wrote the screenplay for Stuart Little in 1998, but hit it big in 1999 with The Sixth Sense. It grossed almost $300 million domestically and in the top 25 most commercially successful movies of all time.

He followed up The Sixth Sense with Unbreakable, also starring Bruce Willis. Unbreakable was a great movie, but did not receive the acclaim that The Sixth Sense did and grossed only $95 million. His next film was, Signs, starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. Signs dealt with a widower who discovered crop circles in his field – and the aliens that follow. Back on track, Signs, grossed $227 million. I thought Signs was good, but it is not my favorite M. Night movie. I did love his fifth film, The Village. I just saw it about a month ago and it has become one of my all-time favorites. The twist is crazy – I thought I had accidentally hit the remote and changed channels for a minute! It was a modest hit, earning $114 million domestically.

For those that do not know, Shyamalan is not only a great director, but also a great writer. He wrote the The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village. Right now, he is working on two films, Lady in the Water and Life of Pi. Lady in the Water is about a mysterious bedtime story character trapped in our world and stars Bryce Dallas Howard (the star of The Village). Life of Pi is a story of hope, faith and survival.

If you liked The Sixth Sense, did you see any of his follow-up films? If not, take a look – I think you will enjoy them. The DVDs are available at Amazon.com.