Author Topic: Review  (Read 2430 times)


  • Praying with Anger

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« on: July 26, 2006, 11:51:56 AM »
I like movies. A lot. Some people like art; the sight of a well-done painting gives them chills and they walk away changed. Some people like music, spending all they have to get their favorite pieces and then sit and thrill themselves by listening to their favorite selections, appreciating each note and enjoying the tones and harmonies. I like movies.

I think Lady in the Water is my favorite movie of all time. My personal favorites range from Seven Samurai to Godfather, from Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to Magnolia. Lady in the Water is my favorite... and I'll tell you why.

While the fantasy story he told was beautiful in and of itself, there is a hidden and deeper meaning. Story is the personification of story; she is the main element of Shyamalan's analogy. Her role is to inspire Vick, the storywriter (played by Shyamalan), who in turn inspires a generation that he will never see. In essence, the movie transcends its own story and points to the inspiring aspect of all stories, how they awaken us, inspire us and point us to where we need to go. The rest of the movie operates on this premise.
Story collects seemingly trivial objects around the pool and in Cleveland's home. I think this represents how stories, mythologies and fantasies pick up pieces of the cultures, the time-periods and the individuals they move through. As stories are told, they are imbued with the culture and personality of the storyteller. There is also a scene where Cleveland must act like a child to get the old Korean woman to tell him the whole story... I think this says that to learn from story, we must approach it with childlikeness and an innocent heart and a fiery imagination. Attempting to bring adult cynicism or worldly concerns into the room will leave us feeling disappointed. A childlike faith is essential.
I love the scene where Story explains the meaning of Cleveland's name: "From the Cliffs." It is when Cleveland comes into contact with Story that his name suddenly takes on meaning and meshes with his life. When his name has meaning and it fits with his life, his perspective on his life begins to change. His life has been one lived on the edge of a cliff, and to learn that his name signifies this gives hope that maybe his life, as Story tells him, has a purpose.

It is also Story who helps him to share the tragedies of his past. When a person is grieving, they first turn to the stories of others, which give them courage and help them to make sense of their own grief. Later, Cleveland shares his own story in the form of a prayer, and it saves his life (not from the death of his body, but from the death of his spirit). Anyone with tragedy in their past can relate to his journey. It is his encounter with Story that allows Cleveland to open up and find healing.
When we approach a story, we must do so with an earnest and innocent faith. The movie critic, Mr. Farber, lost his sense of the awe and wonder of story. When I encounter someone odd, it awakens within me a desire to know their story (someone like Reggie must have a very interesting one). Mr. Farber was bored and annoyed. He also misleads Cleveland as Cleveland tries to find his place in his own story. Ultimately Cleveland must drop any pretenses and choose to follow the hearts of individuals rather than try to force everyone into a mold they don't fit.
You can also see the way knowing old stories helps us fit into new ones. As Cleveland learns the story of the Narf from the Chinese woman, his own story begins to take shape. It does not answer all questions, but it gives him direction and clues as to what to look for. Also, when Cleveland approaches Story wanting to know the details of how all the characters fit into this story, he had to approach her with specific questions and really push to get the answers. When we approach story, we cannot expect one to simply reveal its hidden meaning... we must push and probe and search and ask questions specific to our need, then answers will begin to appear.

Now for the most beautiful part of this movie... as a Christian, I believe it is all true. We are each playing our parts in a grand story. There IS a plot, and we DO have roles to fill. We are not told our roles, we must find them, but through the guidance of past stories, including but not restricted to Scripture, we can find our parts and play them. When we are on the right track, God orders the universe and things simply work out. This has proved true in my life time and time again. But the only way we can know any of this is by reading and sharing our own and others stories. Only when we start telling each other stories, only when we know and understand stories from our past, can we hope to make sense of the world we are in. Stories give us hope in a bleak world. Stories make us childlike again, able to believe that there is hope... that the world doesn't end in war and humiliation. There is more.
Shyamalan is a genius. I drove home after seeing it and started digging through the house looking for books. The energy and drive to read has been restored to me... I had it when I was a child, but at some point between the cynicism and the busyness of life, I lost it. I want to read again, and then I want to write and tell others my own stories. This is amazing... I never thought I would feel this again.
I have always appreciated Shyamalan. Now I am awed by him.


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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2006, 12:32:03 PM »
 Excellent review of the movie!  I will post a link to it on my review page, under Lady in the Water.


  • Praying with Anger

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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2006, 06:22:03 AM »
 Nice review..unfortunately many people didnt like it because it didnt live upto their"expectations" ..i liked the part when the film critic is ridiculed...maybe thats why the real" film critics" are upset and are floating negative reviews about his film