The Atlantic has published a fascinating article about a lawsuit alleging one creative person has stolen another’s work. Filmaker Francesca Gregorini argues that the Apple TV+ series Servant, created by M. Night Shyamalan and Tony Basgallop, shares eerie similarities with her 2013 film, The Truth About Emanuel.
The article highlights this is not the first accusation of plagiarism levelled at Shyamalan.
Shyamalan, the creator of a string of hit movies including The Sixth Sense, The Village, Unbreakable, and Split, was one of the highest-profile writers and directors to produce a series for Apple’s new service, a relationship that seemed to affirm clout on both sides. But Shyamalan has also been accused of plagiarism in the past: A Pennsylvania screenwriter, Robert McIlhinney, sued Shyamalan in 2003, alleging that the movie Signs had taken ideas from an unproduced screenplay McIlhinney had written called Lord of the Barrens: The Jersey Devil. The young-adult author Margaret Peterson Haddix observed in 2004 that The Village was remarkably similar to her award-winning 1995 novel, Running Out of Time, down to the particular mission of a teenage character and a notable twist. (Shyamalan’s production company and Disney released a statement at the time saying that Haddix’s claims were “meritless.”)
I always find it hard to understand why any creative would want to copy or steal another’s work? Although, apparently, Shyamalan has claimed it is a coincidence. What’s not in question is borrowing heavily from an existing creative work is a huge creative short cut saving time, money and creative blood, sweat and tears coming up with something original.