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Print Page - The Happening and The Birds

Films => The Happening => Topic started by: Sheck on July 19, 2009, 05:36:51 PM

Title: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Sheck on July 19, 2009, 05:36:51 PM
Sorry if this topic and the following statements are simply repeating someone else's well thought presentations, but it probably bears repeating anyway to keep it current.

I just reviewed "The Birds" recently....haven't seen it for years...changes as you get older/wiser.  The first film that popped in my head was "The Happening".   As I hope many will agree, ?The Birds? was not about real birds in Bodega Bay going crazy against the locals.  The literal bird representations were spectacular stuff in 1963 and the animal/cinema tricks and effects were worth the price of admission.  Add Hitch's flare for the psychology, and audiences could be satisfied on literal or figurative levels

As almost everyone in here knows, M. Night is often compared to Hitchcock. Unfortunately, M. Night doesn't get the respect Hitchcock when it comes to films that don't ring a big bell out the gate.  That may be for several reasons, ranging from track success to the aptitude and attention span of the audiences now versus then.   I'm sure there are dozens of other challenges to being hailed as one of the greats, these days.

Anyways, I just want to suggest to anyone reading this post that "The Happening" is perhaps as significant cinematically as "The Birds", which was done relatively late in Hitch's career.  There are strong similarities in form, but more important I think are the innuendos and alternative meanings of visuals, audio, characters and their dialogue, including mass media reports.  I think these mind-game devices were much more apparent in ?The Birds? and not expected (or marketed) in regards to ?The Happening?.  Therefore, the current dilemma of whether it's a greatly misunderstood film, or a wild strike.

As stated before, I am planning to do a rather long essay on "The Happening" at some point in effort to redeem it amongst M. Night fans (the average movie goers may never get it)...I warn you now, the essay will be rather long, and I'll probably break it up into a few posts unless I can come back to modify my original as I go. In the meantime, let me leave you with this Gem from the film, which I think sums up the argument about The Happening being much deeper and complex than most give it credit for BE-ing.

At the construction site, before the workers start falling off the cliff, there's a bunch of guys on the ground seemingly listening to a story (joke) being told by one fellow re: the old joke about seeing "WY" on another man's "thing", thinking that means he also has a girlfriend named "Wendy"...when it actually it represents: "Welcome to Jamaica, have a nice daY!" They all laugh before the sky falls (see the movie for a better delivery!)

So, why put that it the film besides a laugh that takes a bit of time to get if you haven't heard it before?  Because that's what ?The Happening? is - a cinematic statement from a true auteur where you have to fill in what's between the W and Y yourself, and try not to assume it?s simply one short, familiar word.  Moreover, for the best chance of getting the jist of ?The Happening?, one should be familiar with M. Night's previous works, especially "Lady in the Water" as these 2 films go hand in hand, IMO.

That's it for now, but also consider one of The Hap's first lines, too:  Girl 1:  "I forgot where I am."  Girl 2: "You're at the place where the killers need to decide what to do with the crippled girl."  Girl 1: ?Oh that's right, that's right"

....Scary Stuff indeed when you watch the film with the English subtitles on (highly suggest for best impact).  Note: I almost hate watching this film lately because I dread that M. Night knows a lot more about life on Earth (or at least in the US) than I can ever expect to get a handle on.   But I will continue, it's like playing chess with a master who provides a head start, so to speak.


Title: Re: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Mr_Glass.1 on November 04, 2009, 04:27:09 PM
Interesting, I can't wait for to read the paper.
Title: Re: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Namaste on November 06, 2009, 08:57:06 PM
I agree with your estimation of Night, Sheck. Sometims it scares me when I look deeply into his movies. He shows us ourselves as we have nevr seen us before.
Title: Re: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Rohan on November 19, 2009, 11:44:12 AM
I can't for your paper, Sheck. I also agree with you and also agree with "Namaste" that M.Night sometimes shows us ourselves as we have never seen us before.

I don't know if all M.Night Shyamalan fans or regular movie goers agree with me or not. To me THE HAPPENING is one of M.Night's other best works. It's original, it's scary, fresh and thought provoking. Believe me the way THE HAPPENING is performed, directed and written is on purpose. It's not stupid and it's not funny.

M.Night Shyamalan is inspired by THE BIRDS. I think he stated in one his interviews about THE HAPPENING. He also stated that the beginning credits are similar to beginning credits of "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" and I remember that quote he made in one of his other interviews. I haven't seen "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" and if anyone seen it here, please post if that statement is true.

M.Night Shyamalan is smart. He is experienced and has knowledge. He may studies lots of books or he is just probably born the way his mind and heart works. He knows about earth, people, dreams, feelings, senses, science, history. Very well educated director and writer. I don't get it why some people doesn't appreciate his work the way they used to and still appreciate Alfred Hitchcock's work. I also don't care if others appreciate M.Night's work or not, but I do and I know people in this forum that they do.

I don't know M.Night personally. I don't know his habits, likes/dislikes. His favorite songs, books, directors, favorite food, drink all the small things. I wish I knew him and I will try my best to get to him some day so we can sit and work on same project. I am inspired by him and I proud of it. I have no complaints and regrets and never will have any.

I think he is spiritual and knows the important bond of human with this earth.  I feel great after his movies finish. I feel like a new person even though I have seen UNBREAKABLE over 20 times or SIGNS over and over. There is a special or I should say unique feeling to his writing style and directing style. Very simple and significant, it's hard for me to describe it. I am trying my best to describe that unique style. Environment in his movies, costumes and dialogues. He is literary showing us his mind.

I adore his work and I will cherish them forever. There is a lot of words that I must type, but I have to stop it here.

Title: Re: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Mr_Glass.1 on January 08, 2010, 04:01:31 PM
Rohan, I think you're feelings will be come more articulate as you think about them more and write them down.
Title: Re: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Rulm on March 02, 2010, 03:24:07 PM
I understand why Night was trying to do, and even respect him for it to an extent, but usually when I analyze a movie, it's because I enjoyed it. Such as the film Pulp Fiction. There's a lot there to analyze. I want to know why I enjoyed it; I want to see if I missed anything that will enhance my enjoyment of the particular movie--I didn't like The Happening. Not my first viewing, not my second, not my third. It's silly and fun to laugh at, even original, but it's not a well executed film. However, I'm happy that there are some people who did like it.
Title: Re: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Sheck on March 02, 2010, 04:40:32 PM
Hi Folks - sorry to have been away so long, but I'm glad to see this chain is still slowly but surely getting some attention.  Maybe it's already assumed by now that The Hap is as brilliant as "The Birds" by the pros and industry, but the audience concensus seems to still point otherwise.  

While I don't have a full-fledged analysis to provide this board supporting the notion that the Happening is indeed a serious, brilliant film posing as a silly thriller, I'll try to provide some additional "clues" that may help you connect some dots in your own mind as you watch/study or laugh at the film.  Perhaps other folk on the board have fleshed out similar notions & things, haven't had time to peruse, but it looks like fair game.  That said, I apologize if it seems like I'm restating anyone's analysis, discoveries, what have you.  Think of it as a compliment!

FIRST - as you know this film is directed by M. Night and it's not his first, major...many greats already under his belt.  You know he's brilliant.  He could be a bit mad-hatter judging by the subject matter and tone...but he seems like a nice/balanced guy who has his personal and professional act together, far away from Hollywood, like some of the best directors have done/do.  Besides, he's a Philly boy, and so was I, so he's gotta be redeemed!

TWO - Once a filmmaker learns to make a revolutionary masterpiece (story, form, tech) like the Sixth Sense, it's hard to phuck-up anything afterwards. Sure, he/she may try something new,weird, or avante-guard, but that's why the first break-thru worked, right?  While he's famous for his twist endings, you can also put a twist anywhere in the story, plot, form - sometimes not that noticeable until you find it, and then you say, Aha!

THREE -  If M. Night spent a million bucks and weeks shooting a 2hr film showing a bitten apple on a table slowly turning brown, I think there would be something to watch for, even if it's just the slow browning.  Why nearly all the critics dismissed this idea scares the chit-chat out of me...they should know better, and I'm sure you can find a few critics that praised it upon release, despite the tide.

Dialogue and Exposition - I've already mentioned a bit in my first essay how that works as a tool for compressed story and form (e.g. the joke about Welcome to Jamaica on the construction guy's weenie).  While there's way too much to recant (i.e. most of the script), think about and spell out some of words that are repeated, metaphors, innuendos, alt meanings, etc.  I haven't watched the Hap in many months (too many films to catch up on), but here are some things that stick in my mind:

Joey (who we never see) calls Alma at home, on train, etc, and we think he's just a horn dog who wants some more attention from the beautiful Alma who he knows is married.  Whose famous voice is that that keeps bugging/nagging her, I think his first screen appearance w/o being seen (help me there, not sure).  Notice the big brass bug on the coffee table when she puts the phone down, still vibrating. And how about alt meaning and visualization for Hot Dogs (I love that scene, but please don't immediately think phallic).  How about when Alma states "We're not a____s" when the group they can't physically see over the hill are getting shot by Mr. Army guy (or shooting themselves if following previous example)...think about that in your own life when you know someone is getting hurt, or worse. Don't get me started on the Mrs. Jones scenes, too much to slave over.

Characters: Not going to go crazy with this subject b/c it may ruffle too many notions about movies, but characters aren't always just people in movies, plays, musicals, etc.  Some times they can represent whole classes, institutions, gangs, POV's etc.  Think political cartoons.

Color - notice most if not all the "smart good guys" are wearing something Blue?  Keep going from there, think about color use in the Village and history.  Look for things that have primary colors and think dream logic (I know that sounds oxymoronish).

Math - someone else pointed this out a while back.  Yep, do the Math.

Mise-en-scene - There's so much of this classic cinematic art happening in the Hap, it was hard to keep up in relation to the dialogue.  Everything from set dec, locations, signs, props to costumes.  Talked about the bug on the coffee table above.  I think there's a painted blue bug at the school, too.  Did someone say Twilight Zone?

Deleted Scene - the DVD has a long intro scene that was deleted that really helps to understand Elliot's and Alma's relationship a bit better (assuming they are characters) and I think connects it with LITW with the cereal box.

Going Crazy - I don't need to tell M. Night fans that here's a lot blatantly wrong with this world.  We're all trying to keep ourselves from going nuts in an over-mis-informed- hyper-historical time.  I can't speak for everyone, but I know there are certain things at my age that in order to believe, I'd have to go nuts, which is the same as killing yourself in many ways, bullet to the head.  What if Ghosts and Aliens really exist...what if your parents aren't really your parents, or worse, want you to die first?  Harsh realities.  Harsh world.  Thank god that some folk can distill it into art.

OK, I'm going to stop there before the thought police come knocking, and that was longer typing session than I thought.  Please do your own homework and hopefully you too will see that there's much more than meets the eye and ears on the first couple of passes.  Or keep the popular POV that The Happening sucked ass...which it indeed could have indeed, if no one ever really got it, including me, perhaps reading too much into the film.

One day, if we all live long enough, they'll study M. Nights films like we do heavy classic literature. That already happens with some of the greats like Hitch and Kubrick. That is, if all the copies aren't destroyed first.  Let's pray (with anger?) it never gets that bad anywhere in the world ever again.

Title: Re: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Mr_Glass.1 on March 04, 2010, 10:43:37 AM
Interesting thoughts, but would it be possible for you to explain your thoughts further, instead of being more of a summary, maybe just take it one thing at a time.
Title: Re: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Kuzon on March 19, 2010, 08:19:43 PM
Yeah, I'm usually the odd man out when it comes to movies like this.... I absolutely loved this movie from the beginning! It took awhile before I was able to see it, the cinematography was just amazing...

I'm just about to go watch it again...
Title: Re: The Happening and The Birds
Post by: Namaste on March 25, 2010, 10:57:28 PM
Interesting thoughts, but would it be possible for you to explain your thoughts further, instead of being more of a summary, maybe just take it one thing at a time.
yeah, I'm with him. Include a little detail.