Warning: This article contains spoilers for some of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies.
I can’t believe I didn’t realize this before now: M. Night Shyamalan has some kind of water fetish. Seriously, water has been a major plot point in at least four of his films. In Unbreakable, it is revealed that Bruce Willis’ character David Dunn has a weakness to water, and will drown if submerged in it. In Signs, the invading aliens have a weakness to water, and all you have to do to kill them is douse them with it. In Lady in the Water…there’s a lady in the water. In The Last Airbender, there’s a whole race of people who can manipulate and control water – the water benders.
That’s four of his nine movies, or four of seven if you count his career as beginning with The Sixth Sense. So what does all this mean? Maybe David Dunn has superhuman strength and endurance because he’s descended from the aliens in Signs! Maybe the narf (I can’t write that word without thinking of Pinky and the Brain) is actually a water bender! In the end, I don’t think it actually means anything particularly significant. Shyamalan clearly isn’t afraid of water, because while water poses a threat in Unbreakable, in Signs it saves the day, in Lady in the Water it provides a home for Bryce Dallas Howard, and in The Last Airbender the water benders are good guys. Water is often associated with purity, healing and cleansing (as in baptism), but again, these associations aren’t universally applicable to Shyamalan’s works. Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender support the association between water and healing, but Signs and Unbreakable do not. And before you say it, I checked, and no, Shyamalan’s zodiac sign is not Scorpio, Cancer or Pisces.
Maybe M. Night was just feeling thirsty while he worked on the screenplays for those four movies. Beats me. But you can’t deny that there’s something fishy going on there. Eh? Get it? Fishy? Okay, I’m done.