Sonntag, 5. Februar 2017

SPLIT - Ending Explained [Spoilers]

 Hello there puny humans,
recently I have watched and reviewed M. Night Shyamalan's latest film: Split. I quite enjoyed it and even though it didn't blow my mind in a way, say, InceptionMemento, or Fight Club did, I feel like I want to talk about its ending. So be aware, there is big spoilers ahead:

What happened?
In the final act of the film, Kevin's 24th identity, the so called "beast", takes over his body. The theories stated in the beginning of the film turn out to be true: People with Dissociative Identity Disorder are able to change their body chemistry. Thus, the beast gains superhuman strength and abilities. Convinced that privileged people are lesser beings and that they do not have the preconditions for such an evolution, he eats two of the abducted girls. When he confronts his last victim, Casey, he finds out that she has been "broken" too (by the sexual abuse of her uncle), and so he spares her and flees the scene.
After Casey has been rescued by the police, we see some people in a diner watching a news report about the events that occurred in the film. The anchor calls Kevin and his different identities "The Horde". As the camera pans across the diner, a girl says that this sort of naming reminds her of the "guy in the wheel chair" they covered in the media a couple of years back. When she tries to recall the name they had given him, a man's voice answers "Mr. Glass". The camera moves around her and that man is revealed to be David Dunn, Bruce Willis' character from the 2000 M. Nigh Shyamalan film Unbreakable.

What does it mean?
Well, it means two things: First of all, that Split was in fact a secret sequel to Unbreakable. Secondly, it means that what we have witnessed is not just a simple thriller about a man with DID, but rather the origin story of a super-villain.
Unbreakable, 2000
To refresh your memory (or if you just never knew), Unbreakable is the story of David Dunn. A security guard that, after being the only survivor of a horrible train crash, realizes he might be, indeed, unbreakable. With its serious tone and the exploration of the character's life, it was the first superhero drama. It grounded the story of a man discovering his superhuman powers long before Christopher Nolan came along with his Dark Knight-Trilogy. Furthermore, it was a story that demanded continuation. Or at least fans thought so, as it popped up in conversations again and again (most notably Patton Oswalt on the The Screen Junkies Show).
Split now apparently takes place in that same heightened reality cinematic universe. And from the looks of it, David Dunn has an eye on the man with 24 identities. In fact, Shyamalan has revealed that he had initially written the character of Kevin for Unbreakable. He scrapped the part from early drafts however, because he thought it distracted from the main story. As a result, some of the scenes in Split were written as far back as 15 years ago. Remember Unbreakable's sequence with the Orange Suit Man? That was supposed to play out like the Split story-line, only with Bruce Willis rescuing the girls.

Why is all of this so cool?
When Split reached its conclusion and it became clear that this film is not going to end in a down-to-earth way, I wasn't sure if I was completely on board. And I think that some people in the audience felt the same way. As soon as I realized though that this movie was part of a superhero world, it recontextualized the whole film. In the fictional world presented by Unbreakable, something like this really could happen. In addition, as said before, it also turned the entire film into a villain origin story and the prospects of exploring that character in a sequel was more than intriguing.
The brilliant thing that Shyamalan did here was that he created two films that completely stand on their own as two different works of art. And still, these films ultimately belong together.
Especially in a time where it is almost painful to see how Warner Bros. and DC create incredibly convoluted films for an interconnected cinematic universe, it is awesome to see that it is actually possible to tell a contained original story that still fits into an overarching concept. Did you ever see a franchise that gave its villain his own solo movie? It's fantastic. It's as if in the end of Nightmare on Elm Street you found out that Batman was looking for Freddy Krueger. (To see how cool Freddy VS Batman would be watch this video).
On top of that, it is also thematically great: On one side is Kevin, who is obsessed with people that are broken and who himself is quite literally split. Four of his personalities want to escape an ordinary life to become something greater. On the other side is an unbreakable man, who at first is reluctant to use the power within him, because he just wanted to live an ordinary life. They are in that way, perfect opposites from their mind-set, but similar enough in their powers that it wouldn't be clear who had the upper hand in a fight. 

So what will happen next?
Long before Split hit theaters, Shyamalan has said that he had planned Unbreakable as a trilogy. Now, where the sequel has been released, he has reassured people that he was working on a final film of the series. Apparently he already has an outline, but he wants to take time to work on it further until it meets the audience's expectations as well as his own. As it was to be expected, the plan is to have Bruce Willis' and James McAvoy's characters face off against each other. Nonetheless, Shyamalan has stated that just like its predecessor's, the third film was supposed to be able to stand alone. How he will manage that is not quite clear, and neither is the question of how long it will take him. Still, the writer-director has already managed to do something that I never thought to be possible after seeing After Earth: He got me excited for an M. Night Shyamalan film.

The poster should have given it away...
So these are my thoughts on the ending of Split. How did you like the film? Are you excited about the Split/Unbreakable-crossover? Do you even remember Unbreakable? Leave your thoughts in a comment below and don't forget to share this article to let the readership grow.

Your Cinemartian

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