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6 important scenes from M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable to prepare you for Glass

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M. Night Shyamalan's atmospheric new thriller Glass arrives in Cineworld this week, forging important connections with the director's earlier movie Unbreakable.

When we say earlier, we mean quite a bit earlier – Unbreakable was released in 2000, in the wake of the director's sensational breakout hit The Sixth Sense. So you could be forgiven for not remembering that much about it.

Glass mixes up Unbreakable characters David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) with the multiple personality psychopath Kevin (James McAvoy) from Shyamalan's hit movie Split. Having found themselves incarcerated in a psychiatric institution for those who believe they're superheroes, the three become embroiled in a battle that has implications for the wider world.

Given how closely both Glass and Unbreakable are intertwined, we thought you could do with a recap of the six most important scenes from the latter...

1. The Eastrail crash

Together, Glass, Unbreakable and Split form what is known as the 'Eastrail 177 trilogy'. The name refers to the shocking train crash that kick-starts Unbreakable, from which Bruce Willis's seemingly ordinary security guard David Dunn emerges without a scratch, while all the rest of the 131 passengers are killed.

How is this possible? Is he even human? It's the perfect kind of eerie opening, one that establishes Shyamalan's key thesis that super-human abilities are at work in an apparently ordinary world.


2. Elijah Price is born

This is actually the first thing we see in Unbreakable, prior to the reveal of the main titles. It's established off-screen that the infant known as Elijah Price, born in 1961, has been born with an extremely rare disease that makes his bones especially brittle.

As an adult he's played by a shadowy and sinister Samuel L. Jackson, who sees his physical fallibility and Dunn's seeming invulnerability as a sign that they're connected via some kind of spiritual destiny lifted straight from a comic book.




3. David bench presses

Alarmed by Elijah's insistence that he is more than human, David decides to test his abilities. With his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) watching, he's stunned to realise he can bench 160kg, a sign of enhanced strength. It's both a reflection of David's emergent abilities and an establishment of his troubled relationship with his son, who is alarmed at the imminent collapse of David's marriage to Audrey (Robin Wright).

Given Clark reprises his role as Joseph in Glass, this is one of the most important emotional undercurrents in the Eastrail 177 trilogy.


4. David's weakness

If Superman has his kryptonite, superhero-in-the-making David's weakness appears to be water. When pressed by Elijah, he reveals a childhood incident in which he almost drowned, something that has haunted him for much of his adult life. Elijah then posits that this is another trope lifted straight from the pages of a comic book – that of a seemingly invulnerable hero with an unexpected flaw.

Willis and Jackson's performances, not to mention the gorgeous cinematography from Eduardo Serra and the eerie score from James Newton Howard, go a long way in grounding the apparent ludicrousness in creepy plausibility.




5. The orange man

Every iconic superhero faces their first true test, and in David's case it comes in the form of a murderous janitor who has taken a family hostage. By this stage, David realises he also possesses extra-sensory perception – by touching an individual, he is able to glean their crimes, hence how he is able to define the criminal known as 'the orange man'.

In his quest to save the family, David must confront the orange man in the midst of a rain storm, and like any great comic book, his vulnerability is exposed when he's thrown into a swimming pool. Having almost drowned, the endangered children soon save him, and the way Shyamalan frames David's emergence confirms his transformation from security guard into something much more.


6. Elijah reveals the truth

For much of the movie, Elijah appears as an arch manipulator, conflicted if not necessarily evil in his goading of David. But the devious reveal at the end of Unbreakable confirms the horrible truth: when David shakes his hand, Elijah is revealed as the super-villain to David's superhero, having engineered the Eastrail train crash in order to expose David's powers of invincibility and perception.

This, it turns out, has been Elijah's destiny all along, and he now embraces his villainous new monicker: Mr Glass, a nickname children gave to him when he was young. As Newton Howard's score rises to its grandiose climax, the movie concludes with David reporting his crimes to the police, leading to Elijah being locked up in a psychiatric institute.




This is where we begin Glass, as Doctor Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) finds herself examining the apparent delusions of David, Elijah and Kevin. When Elijah becomes aware of Kevin's deadly 24th personality, the animalistic Beast, he exploits the situation to fashion the kind of hero vs villain stand-off worthy of the finest comic book. The stage is set...

Click here to book your tickets for Glass, released in Cineworld on 18th January. Unlimited members: book your tickets for the Unlimited screening of Glass on 17th January.