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LADY IN THE WATER

The Story & The Storyteller
A master storyteller can craft a single image or a line of dialogue that resonates with audiences for a lifetime. Years after seeing a film, the mere suggestion of it instantly recalls the emotional impact of the story and our experience of watching that cinematic moment unfold for the first time.

In 1999, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan captivated audiences with his internationally acclaimed thriller The Sixth Sense, a multi-layered ghost story powered by equal parts suspense and emotion. The movie became a worldwide cultural phenomenon and added a new dimension to the character-driven blockbuster. His succession of hit films that followed, Unbreakable, Signs and The Village, has established Shyamalan as a prolific storyteller with vision and purpose.

In an era when reality programming has saturated the airwaves and cinematic imagination often seems stalled, Shyamalan consistently brings original, inspired stories to the big screen, captivating audiences with deft storytelling that bears his signature blend of suspense, drama, humor and heartfelt emotion.

His uncommonly assured visual style – characterized by thoughtful framing, scenes that unfold in long takes and little to no "coverage” – is as provocative as the stories he tells and underscores his passion for storytelling.

"My movies are an expression of who I am and where I am emotionally,” Shyamalan says. "Each film has its questions that I'm wrestling with at that time. I believe in being honest with the audience, so I try to talk honestly about the things I'm dealing with in the context of a fictional story that everyone can enjoy.”

The $2 billion that Shyamalan's films have earned in box office and DVD sales suggest that his movies are as universal as they are personal, resonating with audiences not only for their originality and honesty, but also for their intelligence. Whether he's delving into the extraordinary or the painfully intimate, Shyamalan asks us to consider not only the most personal aspects of the human condition, but our relationship with the universe as well. And he doesn't rely on violence or heavy visual effects to make his point.

"Night is not afraid of anything in his work, and I think that's why people are so drawn to his films,” says Bryce Dallas Howard, who received international acclaim for her performance in The Village, her first starring role in a feature film. "Audiences know that they're going to see something that is inherently fearless.”

Perhaps his most original and daring film yet, Lady in the Water began as an impromptu bedtime story Shyamalan invented for his two young daughters. "The way I tell stories to my kids is very freeform – whatever pops into my head and comes out of my mouth,” he says of their nightly ritual.

"Do you know that someone lives under our pool?” is what popped out of Shyamalan's head on that particular night, sparking a story that played out for days and weeks on end. "It developed into this kind of odyssey,” he recalls. "There was something at the heart of this story that made me want to tell it every night, and to keep it going. After the story finally ended, my daughters and I kept talking about it and what happened to the characters. It resonated with us in an unusual fashion.”

Lady in the Water tells the legend of Story, a mesmerizing nymph-like young woman, and Cleveland, the broken-spirited building superintendent who discovers that she is actually a Narf – a character from an ancient and epic bedtime story – who has journeyed to the human world to fulfill a vital and sacred purpose. Temporarily trapped between realms, her mission and maybe even her fragile existence in jeopardy, she has taken refuge in Cleveland's building, living in the cool dark passageways beneath the swimming pool.

Story's quest to return to her wor

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