What's 'Happening' in M. Night Shyamalan's new movie?

A: Oh sure, we thought about red tides, lakes where the toxins had poisoned people. And we talked to neuroscientists about the effects of toxins on behavior to get ideas.

Q: Scientists often feel they get badly treated in films; they're madmen in lab coats. What do you think of their complaint?

A:I guess they feel they are trapped in the "knowledge at any cost" role. But in The Happening, science is a means for people to validate the believers out there, how they feel about the natural world. The hero, Eliot, sees the gaps of knowledge as something wonderful; he sees mysteries that make his beliefs stronger.

Q: So what sort of science fiction movies do you admire?

A: I loved The Andromeda Strain. I wish they had offered me Jurassic Park.

Q: That would have been a different movie then.

A:That would have been really cool. I mean that's just a great science idea, one of those wonderful what-if ideas. I like all of Michael Crichton's ideas.

Q: Those are movies that are a little more suspicious of science, aren't they?

A:Well, in The Happening, I see the character of Eliot as the opposite of Mel Gibson's character in Signs. He (Gibson) was a priest who lost faith and went to rely on reason. Eliot is a man of science who is interested in belief.

Q: Are you satisfied with the science in The Happening?

A:It was a balancing act. In the early script, we had the science right away, all laid out. I felt it was more powerful to pull back, but then I wanted to put it back in, I even thought about putting it in the credits. Like I said, we were very much relying on James Lovelock and research on the brain. There is just a tremendous amount of information on neurotoxic effects on behavior and physical disorientation.

Q: Have you gotten a response from any scientists?

A:So far we've heard mostly good responses.

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