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The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale Hardcover – July 20, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Sportswriter Bamberger's frothy though unconvincing account of the tentative making of Shyamalan's latest film, Lady in the Water, won't make a lasting contribution to film history but may appeal to diehard fans of the moviemaker who hit it big with The Sixth Sense. Bamberger meets his fellow Philadelphian Shyamalan and his wife, Bhavna, at a party in 2004, and becomes intrigued with how this Indian- British immigrant came up with the idea that allowed him to persuade all the right people to make his first movie, at age 28, which grossed $1 billion worldwide and earned six Oscar nominations. Bamberger explores the themes of faith and heresy that run through Shyamalan's movies, including Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, and the little-seen coming-of-age dramedy Wide Awake, and reveals Shyamalan's latest inspiration, his original fable about a sea nymph. Essentially, Bamberger follows the secretive moviemaker around and tries to get a sense of his thoughts: "Night was trying to write this ambitious, crazy, inspired screenplay, and a lot of the time he had no idea what he was doing." A soup-to-nuts account of the making of the movie evolves with plenty of flashy names from coast to coast, but the whole isn't all that nourishing.
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Stands alongside Lillian Rosss Picture and Julie Salamons The Devils Candy as that rare inside look at how Hollywood actually works. -- The Philadelphia Inquirer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Shyamalan doesn't get off easy in this book, either. Sometimes he is painted as a tortured genius, others a petty jerk. The bits about cinematographer Chris Doyle's drunken antics are shocking as well. Personally, I would've fired him for the things he did on set.
Overall, an insanely fun read.
Most of the reviews of this book were written by Shyamalan fans, many of whom are shocked - SHOCKED! - that this is how he behaves in public and private. This is amusing to me, in many ways. I work in the NYC film production world and have served on films with directors ranging from Spielberg to Ridley Scott - and I have seen countless directors and actors with a quarter of Shyamalan's talents copping attitudes light years worse than his.
What this book reveals is the story of a very talented filmmaker who got too big too quickly, and the horrors that your own insecurities can play on you. Confidence is a necessity in Hollywood - every bad movie out there was made by a guy who was confident he was going to make a good one, and spread that confidence to investors, production companies, his crew, and actors. Confidence has led to the worst films in history.
When we pick up with Shyamalan, we find a man who is nagged by insecurities, someone who has grown up with parents that were disappointed that he was only on the cover of Newsweek and not Time, a person desperately seeking approval from literally the entire world. Yet at the same time, Shyamalan has a vision and is desperately trying to bring it to reality, trying to have that 100% confidence at all times, only to have this feeling be undermined by the simplest of incidents - someone asking a question about the continuity of a screenplay, for example. He lashes out at Disney exec Nina Jacobson over her questions over the screenplay because they upset his confidence, even though he later discovers that she was right. The hint that this film wasn't ready to be made should have come in how precariously his confidence was balanced on a pin that nearly toppled over when someone would brush it.
What's best about this book is that it's a rare, full access look at the process of a major studio film helmed by a guy at Shyamalan's level. Shyamalan himself read the final manuscript and amazingly made no requests for changes. You see the good, the bad, and the terrible. It's not one of those unhelpful interview books in which the director gets to sit down, cross his legs, and start praising himself ad nauseum and finding art where there probably wasn't during the production of the film. It's real filmmaking, real personalities clashing, real studio politics, and the case of art vs. money, success vs. failure.
If you come to this book like I did hoping to find Shyamalan the egotistic one-dimensional person some of these reviews make him out to be, you'll be disappointed. There's too much to his personality to pigeon-hole him into such a cliche.
That he didn't learn from his mistakes for the recent The Happening is very upsetting, especially after the disappointment that was The Village, and the disaster of Lady in the Water. Whether or not he'll ever get his groove back is questionable, though I hope he does. Shyamalan is young, rich, talented, and successful, and while people like to see such a person succeed, we all secretly love to see that person fail. This book will make you think twice about such condemnation.