Knocking on the doors of human extinction?
By Andrés Arellano Báez. (Google translation from Spanish)REVIEWS
Night Shyamalan is a fascinating filmmaker. He also has a career developed through a mystery denser than the convoluted plots of his films. Several of his works, to exemplify what has been written, have been doomed to failure by their distributors, bravaly transmuting them into the sequel to “The Sixth Sense”, his great box office success. "The Happening" is not one of them. It is, really, a mediocre film within the filmography of a man who without a doubt should be defined as a filmmaker.
Almost all the works of the author from India contain a complexity of their plots in which his meticulous construction of perfectly connected sequences stands out, a framework developed to bury a powerful truth but that, despite having been placed in front of the viewer, is invisible. for him. In his first production in the United States, hiding the true condition of the character of Bruce Willis throughout the plot was his great asset; and, in "Signs", the shocking thing was to discover that the signs were not a reference to the structures created in the fields indicating how to make the landing of alien ships, but to the signs received by the family throughout their lives to survive that event. In «The Visit» he failed completely, because it was impossible, not evident,
The Happening. Disney.
The dissertation presented aims to highlight how, by the end of Shyamalan's films, the viewer leaves the theater enveloped in an atmosphere of marvelous surprise, knowing that they are unable to have seen, predicted, what appears obvious from another perspective. The conclusion of "The Sixth Sense" impacts not by discovering the condition of Malcom Crowe (Willis) but by the fact that it has been impossible to realize his premature death. One of the most powerful phrases in the film is the one in which the boy Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) lets it be known that "people only see what they want to see." Perhaps the audience, accustomed to seeing Willis as one of Hollywood's most popular heroes, prevented themselves from realizing the true status of the character played by the celebrity.
The compliments to the filmmaker's work aim to support a controversial hypothesis: in "The Happening" the creator's denunciation exceeds its dramatic borders and transcends reality with enormous force. "Avatar", James Cameron's film that turned half the planet into a specialist in script analysis, is based on a powerful idea: to show the human being from the perspective of nature, letting him see it as a destructive, invasive being and, therefore, what not to say, a criminal one. «The Happening» is, from the point of view of environmentalist discourse, the obvious and expected response of nature to this behavior.
Gary Yourofsky, a famous animal rights leader and, therefore, a conscientious environmentalist, recognized for having transformed 8% of Israel's citizens into vegetarians, declared in one of his most famous interviews that "the human being is the the only species that, if extinct, would make the planet a much better world. A dispassionate look at reality forces the activist to be right and forces him to detach from it a pristine reality like water from a spring: there is, clearly, from the ecological point of view, a necessary and urgent decrease in the number of beings humans inhabiting the planet. Not expecting a forceful reaction to that is innocent.
Shyamalan proposes, based on the complicated reality, a fiction in which Mother Nature, seeking a necessary balance for her survival, begins to annihilate her most rebellious children through the release of an unknown toxin. The base from which the story is born is one, as well as extremely powerful, intelligent. The development of the film does not give much. At times in "The Happening" are sublime scenes. The vast majority at the beginning of the footage. Some of the mass suicides are an example of the mastery of the man in charge of the staging to develop perfectly manufactured sequences to shock the viewer with the immense and very well dosed amount of suspense contained within. Of them terrifying, in addition to seeing hundreds of people around taking their lives, the realistic reaction of passivity shown by the witnesses, product of a psychological phenomenon known as "the bystander effect", characterized by producing stillness in human beings when they see an act that would require their actions, when sharing space with a group large number of witnesses to the same event. Even pathos can be conceptualized.
The loss of dramatic force as the footage progresses is overwhelming. The artistic work is one of enormous lightness, but the criticism falls with particular force on the direction of photography, one that seems to be made with the natural light of the day in which the scenes were filmed, without any type of preparation or even design. It is clear that there must be some work behind it, since the work's cinematographer, Tak Fujimoto, adapted each scenario with great care for continuity since it was filmed in sequence. But perhaps the man's age and the natural exhaustion of reaching that stage of life and continuing to work prevented him from taking a more ambitious stance on image design.
The film is deeply mediocre, almost a lost time that deserved to be condemned to be expelled from the film universe to perish in the darkest of oblivion. That until the emergence of this new and tragic world, one reviving the relevance of the debate on its postulate. In a scene from the film, Professor Elliot (Mark Whalberg) tells his students about the presence of a bacterium in Australia killing fishermen in the region at considerable rates, insinuating that a defense mechanism is taking place against the invaders that are destroying their habitat. habitat. It is also a reality the existence of plants that, when their leaves are devoured by deer, emit a toxin to their neighbors so that they transform their leaves into food with an unpleasant taste. The pandemic unleashed by Sars-Cov-2,
Could it evolve to the creation, by certain plant species, of lethal elements for humans? "Avatar" already exhibited the seriousness and cruelty of the behavior of the planet's queen species: wouldn't it be the most natural thing in the world for the other species to fight back? A theme mentioned in the film, that of the bees that are beginning to become extinct, could be connected, because as the French postulated: "if the bees become extinct, the human race would not last 3 months alive." His aberrant descent should cause panic. In «Mission to Mars», one of the most ambitious works of the once great filmmaker Brian de Palma, a fascinating thesis was played with based on scientific elements and based on considering Mars a planet previously populated by much more advanced human ancestors,
That premise seemed to be answered by an always controversial political leader. At an Earth Summit, the late former president of Venezuela, the unforgettable Hugo Chávez, postulated that, suddenly, what ended that civilization was capitalism. Today it is reality itself that seems to be involved in wanting to agree with him: modern society, immersed in this system to the marrow, is suffering apocalyptic consequences for its future. In the words of Marx, "the development of the capitalist mode of production has opened a metabolic gap between human beings and nature." Three pieces of news would support the thesis of the German academic. One, published in El País in Spain, reveals that male fertility has fallen by 40% in recent years as a result of the pollution produced by the burning of fossil fuels. A second, from the New York Times, reports the birth of a growing movement of citizens who, concerned about climate change produced by the contemporary economy, have decided not to have children. And a third, from CNN, talks about the decrease in life expectancy in the United States, a product of bad eating habits imposed by a miserable livestock industry, something titled by Le Monde Diplomatique as the "diseases of Western civilization."
What happened with suicides is more aberrant and even more terrifying is superimposing that scourge with the thesis exposed in «The Happening». According to press reports, the number of deaths from the painful cause has risen alarmingly in various regions of the planet. CNN reports that “more than 700,000 people die by suicide each year, according to the World Health Organization (…). In other words: every 40 seconds someone in the world takes their own life. The alarms are ringing outrageously and shining incandescently: if the thesis is true that a species requires a favorable environment for its reproduction, a sincere concern should be born and assume that wanting to maintain and even defend the current economic, political and social system generates a near non-future scenario.
The fall into the dark well is not over yet, for it is not only the increase in deaths that predicts a world devoid of human beings. More unforeseen is the steady decline of new men and women. As of 2021, the number of children per mother is 2.3, slightly above the number required (2.1) to preserve the population. The harsh economic impositions eliminate the obligations of nature from the priorities. South Korea, a country that, like its neighbor Japan, has already begun to depopulate (in 2020 there were 275,800 births and 307,764 deaths), wants to overcome the problem with subsidies: giving cash per baby born. The dart hit the bullseye, though not its center. The problem is the aberrant distribution of income that has made life impossible to afford. The words of a citizen of the eastern power manage to surpass any academic study in accuracy: «To have children, you have to have your own house. But this has become an impossible dream.
The sociological reasons explaining the decrease in births are clear: the urbanization of society has freed them, subjects of rights today who, intelligently, have prioritized their economic independence over their role as managers. The solution to the fall in the fertility rate has been easy: immigration. But what is superfluous quickly vanishes and reality shows that "immigrant women tend to adopt the reproductive patterns of the receiving country, largely because they suffer the same barriers as them and with greater intensity." That is what Amparo González, a researcher specializing in international migration, says for Xataca, someone whose achievements as an academic force her sentence to be taken as true. You cannot dream of bringing a life when its future is uncertain.
BBC Health Correspondent John Gallagher narrates the unthinkable until recently: "Japan's population is projected to fall from a high of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of the century," which "Italy experience an equally dramatic demographic collapse from 61 million to 28 million over the same period", and, he warns, that these are only "two of the 23 countries, which also include Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea, that are expect its population to be reduced by more than half. The good writer always leaves the most shocking for last. The editor explains that "China, currently the world's most populous nation, will peak at 1.4 billion people in four years before shrinking to 732 million by 2100."
The frightening thing about the whole situation is the acceleration process. "The problem is that while the US took 160 years to go from 3.7 children per family to 2.7, the Philippines has done it in 15 years," says Javier Jiménez in the already cited text from Xataca. Gold Money's Roy Sebag in RT's Keizer Report uses the exact same comparison to explain an unprecedented economic fact: negative interest rates, declaring he is "convinced" that their emergence in society is in response to a "rapid decline in world population". A thought composed with the deepest logic. "Perhaps this is how Keynesianism intends to maintain control over FIAT money," the young financier speculates with a high degree of possibility of being right. The fear of a colossal deflation, product of the bursting of a forthcoming financial bubble unprecedented in its size, having issued currency without parallel in history and having channeled such resources towards speculative investments, it seems that it will be what historians of the future will describe as the great antecedent of the greatest crisis of economic history. And today the implosion is only a matter of time.
M. Nigth Shyamalan is an artist, a qualification given to a person with a defined vision of the world and who allows himself to capture it with subtlety and elegance in his works. "The Happening" is a minor production of his within his filmography, but it is because of its little cinematographic impact, not because of its philosophical postulate and strong social criticism. And since it only happens to the big ones, it seems to have found its time and is taking on greater relevance. Your current success is the threat of an undesirable future misfortune. Therefore, to think of this film as one exploring a plot of trees killing humans with the release of toxic substances is simplistic. His footage is a clear metaphor for the modern world, one indicting for having created a society so cruel, violent and unequal,
What is presented in the audiovisual work is amazing and very, very powerful. It is even something that goes further: it is visionary. Capitalism has unleashed a production system based on insurmountable contradictions that are resolved with detestable and increasingly pressing crises, as anticipated in an immortal book more than 150 years ago. The damage to the ecology is undeniable and the first collection account passed to the human glimpses what the next one will be like: unpayable. This is a reality that can already be anticipated. And the heralds of disaster should be listened to, because it may be that the director's plots are invisible to the most seasoned viewer; but the alarm presented in "The Happening" is noticeable even to the most unconcerned citizen. And yet, nothing really seems to be changing.
A message written on paper has been inserted into a bottle and thrown into the ocean waters. The tagline of "The Happening" was "sorry, we saw the signs, now it's happening", making a play on words with two previous productions directed by the author. But there is a force in them powerful. They are a set of phrases that function as an alert about an apocalyptic future that humanity seems to be headed for. “We are already feeling that the planet is running out, the signs are clear… right now it is happening…”.
His footage is a frightening metaphor for the current situation, one warning of having created a world so cruel, violent and unequal, that it has made the existence of life itself unbearable.
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