Avatar: The Last AirbenderM. Night Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan appeared this morning on CBS’ Early Show and spoke about The Last Airbender.  He spoke frankly about a number of topics, and you can see the video of the interview below!

So why make a kid movie?

Shyamalan told “Early Show” co-anchor Erica Hill he was looking for something epic and long form to do next.

Shyamalan explained, “(I’d) been asking my agents to find me something, and in the end it was my 7-year-old daughter that found me the movie. She was watching a show and said, ‘Oh, this, is so great, watch it, watch it.’ Of course, I ignored her for a long time. … And finally we watched it and we were about to eat dinner, and ‘I said this would make a great movie,’ and everybody went nutso and my wife was like, ‘Call the studio, find out if they’re making it.’ And I spent the next year campaigning that I should make the movie. And luckily they said yes.”

Shyamalan, Hill remarked, is intimately involved in the making of his films. He wrote, directed and produced “The Last Airbender.”

And he had even more control with the special effects.

He explained, “I could tweak the hair, tweak the color of your shirt, I can do everything. And so we spent an extra year making the movie. In which time I could work with the animators and talk about design and movements, maybe the creature needs to move with this kind of — I’d even say the creature’s not intelligent enough, it needs to be moving with awareness. And you could go that deep into every detail.”

As for working with children, Shyamalan said, he finds them very “pure.”

He said, “They don’t know how to fake things yet as we become, you know, adept at pretending that we’re happy to be around somebody. They don’t know how do that. Everything on their face and so pure. I speak to them very much like I would speak to any actor, and tell them the feelings of the character, what the character is going through, and you can see that moment where it goes click and it’s very pure.”

But Shyamalan has faced some criticism about the film’s casting. Hill said some of the characters were cast as Caucasians that some say should have been cast to Asian actors.

Shyamalan said, “It’s a very small amount of people. … We’re talking about a few thousand people, but I’m saddened because they want them to look at me and be like, ‘It’s fantastic, this Asian guy has the mantle. His name is on the toys. This is fantastic.’ Go get a Happy Meal, you’ll see my name, this is good stuff. I want them to feel proud and excited. I want everyone to feel that way.”

He continued, “But I think there’s a misunderstanding about anime. Anime in and of itself is an art form where the features are ambiguous. When we watched the cartoon, I saw my daughters in it. I was like no doubt these are my daughters in the roles. And every family felt that and that’s the beauty of anime. It’s the most culturally diverse summer movie of all time. That should be its greatest asset is that it’s so culturally diverse. Every nationality is represented with the exception of blond people.”

Shyamalan hopes to make three films in this series.

4 Responses to “M. Night Shyamalan appeared on CBS’ Early Show regarding The Last Airbender”

  1. Great interview! I love how Shyamalan talks about this movie. You can tell he’s really proud of it =D

  2. Paul and family says:

    We just saw the “sneek peek” for the new Avatar movie on Nickelodeon and were very disappointed in the changes. This happens every time a good thing is turned into a movie and becomes lousy.

    We are shocked that so much is going to change that Aang’s name is now pronounced “ung” just to make it “right”. It will ruin a thing that my girls and I have been watching for years.

    To remove the kioshi warriors is an extremely poor choice. They were our favorite part of the shows at times and we will be extremely disappointed if the movie does not follow the show.

    I doubt that we will see the movie, knowing that we are in for a disappointing time. We go to the movies (or watch tv) to be entertained and this movie has been made to entertain only your ego.

    I felt the same when I saw the Lord of the Ring movies and after reading the books several times, how changes and deletions were made for sake of a director’s whim.

    My girls actually screamed “NO!” at the TV when they heard of the things you took out and changed.

    I am sorry you feel like the story of Aang wasn’t up to your personal standards.

    I bet you took out King Boomie too!

    • Paul Martin Specter says:

      I was surprised that the Kioshi Warriors didn’t appear, as I’ve seen photos of them, I think. Now that you mention it, I have no idea why they weren’t there.

      I think I felt a bit like you did, with The Lord of the Rings. With Fellowship of the Ring, though, it was such a beautiful movie that I was able to overlook it, and recognize the epic scope that was accomplished by Peter Jackson. The Two Towers really jarred me with Faramir, but I overcame that with the extended edition. The Return of the King sealed the deal for me and made it my favorite film [series] of all time. I love the books and films equally. I admire what Peter Jackson was able to do with such an epic work.

      The problem with converting a tv series to a film is a bit different than converting a book to a film. With a book, you don’t have name pronunciations and you can re-imagine things seemingly at will, as long as you stay true to the essence of the book you’re pretty well there. With a tv series, you have established everything, including scene by scene. People can watch it. So making a movie based on that is going to prove difficult, because you can do things in a cartoon that would be really expensive to do in a movie.

  3. Allana says:

    the movie was WACK!! the cartoon is sooo tight but i was sooo disappointed in the movie! how they pronounced Aang’s name in the film really grind my gears, sokka wasnt funny AT ALL in the film. and what was up with all the excessive movements to bend the elements?! then the fire nation why cant they bend fire without having fire around them. sooo many people were let down….i want a refund! my money and time was wasted..EPIC FAIL!!

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