The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan (2003)
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|Movie Review by Seth C |
July 17th, 2006
"The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan" is an intensely intriguing film that makes you question things you know just can't be true. With the opening shot of the documentary's director Nathaniel Kahn arguing on the phone in an empty hotel room, it seems we are pretty positive the film is just a mockumentary. However, as the film continues and we get more and more 'info' about the film's subject, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, we become more and more involved in the film and it slowly becomes near impossible to not question all of the documentary's so-called 'proof.'
What started out as a behind-the-scenes look into M. Night Shyamalan's film "The Village," Kahn's documentary took a stranger turn towards M. Night, the man, who according to a teenage fan in Night's hometown of Philadelphia, is connected to the other side. Kahn investigates this belief thoroughly and in the process gives us plenty of spooky little scenes like the first, which involves the teenage boy, Kahn, a dark basement and a Ojai board.
As Kahn continues to investigate Night's secret life, he brings forth some very interesting questions such as what's the need for Night to have to shoot all of his films in the same 30 mile radius outside of Philadelphia? And what's the significance of water in all of Night's films mean? Kahn tries his best to find the answers to these questions and for the most part he succeeds, however I won't give any of them away here because I would only be spoiling some of the great twist this film has to offer.
Another really clever, and extremely odd portion of "Secret" involves an interview Kahn got with actor Johnny Depp in which Depp discusses why he didn't take a role in Night's 2002 film, "Signs." Depp explains it was due to his desire not to sign a bunch of confidentiality agreements about Night and his personal life. He even remembers responses he was suppose to give in interviews if ever asked about Night. The responses Depp gives are identical to the responses "Village" star Adrien Brody spits out days later when Kahn interviews him.
But is this documentary real or was it just a marketing gimmick to get people into the theaters to see "The Village," which opened only weeks after "Secret" premired on the Sci-Fi Channel? Personally, I see the film as a fake due to the fact that most of the people Kahn interviews, especially Night's publicist, seem like actors. However, the question of it's 'truth' only gets harder to answer because on July 9th 2004, which was only days before this doc aired, The New York Post had an acticle that mentioned the documentary and stated that M. Night's lawyers were claiming "defamation of character, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress" over the show. Was this piece in The Post the truth, or was it just yet another trick the studio used in order for us to go see Night's film. But then again, would the studio really rely on pumping up a three-hour documentary that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel in hopes it would get people out to the theater? I mean, who is going to sit through a three-hour documentary?
And what about "Secret" director Nathaniel Kahn, who is he? Well, Kahn is the critically acclaimed director of the 2003 Academy-Award nominated documentary "My Architect: A Son's Journey." Now with all of Kahn's critically success would he really follow his debut film up with a behind-the-scenes look at some big Hollywood picture? Or was this Philadelphia native just doing another Philadelphian a favor by making this fluff piece documentary for him in hopes it would help ticket sales?
Of course, if that's the case, let's go back to The Post piece; Was it real? I mean, The Post has fact checkers who would see "Secret" as a fraud. And what about the Depp interview? Johnny Depp, who is a huge actor, has nothing to do with Night or "The Village," so why would he take part in a marketing ploy for the film? It can be somewhat mind boggling.
One of the last shots in "Secret" is of Kahn waiting on the abandoned "Village" set for his last interview with Night, who never shows. Instead Night leaves an angry voice message in which he states that even if "Secret" is ever seen, no one will believe Kahn and we will all think the film is a fake. I know I do ... however, then again I'm not completely positive. I do know, however, it takes a really good filmmaker to trick a usually un-trick-able audience member such as myself.
This is a film you really must see for yourself. It will be amazing to see what you begin to believe.
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Jul 20, 2006 7:09 PM
|You nailed this one!! I totally agree with your analysis. An ingenious film.|
Oct 29, 2006 6:27 AM
|And here I thought this was a cheap add on DVD (like The Matrix Revisited) that should have been bundled in with the movie but instead was sold separately in an attempt to charge for "extra features" that normally come on DVDs. I'm definately curious and wanting to see this now.|
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