The meaning of the movie “Split”
After this article, you might want to watch (or revisit) The Invincible. It is also possible that you will spend the next couple of hours on medical portals, studying materials about dissociative identity disorder. While you are here, let’s analyze the images of the main characters of the film, their development and the meaning of the ending. At the end of the article, you will find an explanation of the main idea of the film from M. Night Shyamalan himself.
Kevin Wendell Crumb and 23 personalities
The nature of Kevin’s mental disorder
Kevin’s father abandoned his family, and his mother abused the child. Due to childhood traumas, Kevin developed Dissociative Identity Disorder. This disease is also called multiple personality disorder, although in the case of Kevin, the latter term is hardly applicable: he has not two personalities, but twenty-three. New personalities are Kevin’s psychological protection from cruelty. Some of them are morally stronger than Kevin himself.
I will not go into detail about this disorder: you can easily find information, for example, on Wikipedia. For us, something else is interesting: how plausible is the metamorphosis that occurs with the body of Kevin in the movie “Split”?
In fact, different personalities in the body of one person can really differ in physical parameters. Scientists who have studied patients with dissociative identity disorder have found that two individuals can have different dominant hands, different allergic reactions, different color vision, pupil diameter, intraocular pressure and other parameters.
Of course, all this is far from the superpowers of the Beast with its bulletproof skin and tenacious hands. In the Split universe, however, this is possible. Long before the Beast awakened, Dr. Fletcher, Kevin’s physician, was convinced that patients with dissociative identity disorder were a kind of superheroes. Kevin, however, will not turn into a hero, but into a villain, and Dr. Fletcher will become his first victim.
Patricia is one of the Horde, a woman with esoteric inclinations
Key personalities of Kevin in the movie “Split”
When this or that person occupies Kevin’s mind and controls his body, they say about her that she came into the world . Control over the light and the actions of other individuals is with Barry . It is he who usually communicates with Dr. Fletcher.
Dennis and Patricia are two outcasts among the family . They do not like their position, and they unite in the so-called Horde . They strive for power not only over Kevin’s body, but also over the people around them. This aspiration is based on the belief that there is a twenty-fourth person – the Beast . As Barry stops the Horde from freeing the Beast, the conspirators team up with little Hedwig . He knows how to capture light and take power from Barry.
When the Horde captures Kevin’s consciousness, Dennis has to contact the outside world and communicate with Dr. Fletcher under the guise of Barry so that she does not suspect about his and Patricia’s plans. Barry writes desperate letters to Dr. Fletcher every time he manages to make his way to the light . However, Dennis never lets him see the doctor.
In the finale, the Horde’s plan is carried out, and the Beast is born. His personality was born out of the Horde’s observations of animals at the zoo where Kevin’s home was. The animal is tenacious, like a monkey, its skin is thick, like a rhino, and it attacks people like a predatory animal.
During visits to Dr. Fletcher, Dennis has to pretend to be Barry. He is good at it – but over the years, the doctor has studied her patient well and is able to see deception
Casey Cook and her scars
Casey Cook is the protagonist of the movie “Split”, that is, the main positive heroine. At the beginning of the film, Casey’s classmate says that she does not communicate with anyone and periodically does something, for which she is left after school. Later, in a conversation with Hedwig, Casey will clarify the causal relationship: she deliberately violates school discipline in order to stay alone after school. These words instantly dispose Hedwig to her.
Why Casey is so reluctant to go home, we learn gradually through a series of flashbacks. As a child, she became a victim of her pedophile uncle. Little Casey did not dare to tell her father about this and tried to deal with her uncle on her own: in one of her memories, the girl points a gun at the rapist. However, the uncle, even when at gunpoint, turned out to be morally stronger and persuaded his niece to lower the weapon.
After the death of her father, Casey ended up in a real prison, as her pervert uncle became her guardian. Therefore, she makes a riot at school: she can be alone with herself only when she is left alone after school.
Casey’s life is more like a nightmare, and it’s not surprising that she became withdrawn and silent. She has nothing to talk about with classmates from wealthy families such as Claire and Marsha. She expresses her pain and despair in self-harm – she inflicts physical harm on herself. To hide the numerous self-harming scars from those around her, Casey wears tight, closed clothing and underwear.
In contrast to Casey, Claire and Marsha wear very revealing clothes. They spend most of the film practically naked.
How Casey’s past helps her survive
The nightmare experience that Casey went through as a child, and probably still has, made her more adapted to life. Once in captivity, Casey soberly evaluates the situation and his strength, unlike Claire and Marsha. When Dennis takes Marsha with him, Casey yells to a classmate: “Try to describe yourself!” Obviously, with the help of this technique, Casey herself escaped the harassment of her uncle.
As the plans for the kidnapped girls become clear, it is also clear that the Horde treats Casey better than her two classmates. So, Hedwig is imbued with sympathy for the girl after she admits that she deliberately remains after school to be alone. This feeling is understandable and familiar to a nine-year-old who feels weak and unloved in Kevin’s large family of personalities.
But there is also another reason. We’ll recognize her at the end. Initially, the Horde watched over the school and selected two girls as sacrifices to the Beast. According to the Horde, the victims should be those who did not suffer , otherwise – the wicked virgins . Casey’s classmates are ideal for this – they were born into wealthy families, they had a happy childhood, their future is secured, they look in their youth no worse than the Kardashian family. One glance at Casey is enough to understand that she is not from their circle.
However, this is not enough for the Beast. The beast is a predator that destroys everyone in its path. Otherwise, the murder of Dr. Fletcher cannot be explained – she certainly did not belong to the number of wicked virgins . But Casey has something else that stops the Beast. Her past.
When Casey’s last clothes are torn during the chase, the Beast sees the scars from injuries on the girl’s body. He understands that Casey suffered , which means that she is pure , she was as weak and rejected as Kevin. That’s enough to keep Casey alive.
At first, Casey seems passive compared to her classmates. But her careful actions help her survive. Unlike Claire and Marsha, she does not try to confront the kidnapper, but seeks an approach to him.
The meaning of the ending for Casey
Casey first experienced violence when she was still very young. Then she could not resist evil, but, on the contrary, turned her pain against herself. But as the plot progresses, we see Casey approaching liberation.
One of the most important moments for Casey is the shot at the Beast. A parallel scene takes place in one of the flashbacks: a girl tries to shoot her uncle with a gun, but does not dare to pull the trigger. Remember what words my uncle used to cover up his evil intentions: “Let’s play at animals, animals don’t wear clothes.” A pedophile uncle is compared to an animal, a beast that can be killed on a hunt, but little Casey is beyond her power. The matured Casey again collides with the Beast in the human body and this time she manages to pull the trigger. And while her opponent doesn’t take bullets, what’s important to Casey’s development is that she’s finally able to shoot the Beast.
The ending of Split contains a hint that Casey will be freed from her tormentor. The girl is waiting in the police car when she is informed that her uncle has come for her. Casey looks at the police officer in dismay and doesn’t move. For her, the thought of returning from one prison to another is agonizing. This scene lasts long enough for the policeman to suspect that something is amiss. Although the film’s ending remains open, I would like to think that Casey found the strength to tell the cops about her nightmarish life with her uncle.
There are two parallel scenes in the film in which Casey is sitting in the car and hesitates to do anything. The first time – when Dennis kidnaps the girls, the second – when Casey is waiting for his uncle in the police car
The link between Split and Invincible
Only after the final credits of the film does it become clear that “Split” is a sequel to “Invincible.” The main character of Invincible, David Dunn, played by Bruce Willis, appears in the frame. He helps the diner to remember the name of the villain who operated in Philadelphia 15 years ago – Mr. Glass (in another translation – Glass Man).
The director of both films, M. Night Shyamalan, said that the story of Kevin and the kidnapping of girls was born during the work on “Invincible.” In the original script for Invincible, David Dunn meets Kevin on the street and goes to rescue the girls. Even then, Shyamalan invented the trinity of Kevin’s dark personalities – Dennis, Patricia and Hedwig, and wrote some scenes with their participation, which were later included in the movie “Split”. Kevin did not get into the final script of “Invincible” – Shyamalan replaced him with another character in order to devote a separate film to Kevin 15 years later.
If “Invincible” is the story of becoming a superhero, then “Split” is the story of a supervillain. M. Night Shyamalan confessed: “I hope to make one final film that will bring both together.” On February 17, 2017, the director tweeted that the draft of the new script was ready.
Director’s comment on the meaning of the movie “Split”
Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter, M. Night Shyamalan explained what he wanted to say with his film:
“… The traumatic events that happen to us, of course, change us. But we often look at it as something humiliating. We say: “Now you are broken, you are no longer one whole, not one of us, not a normal person.” It seems to me that this is not so. Yes, these people are different. We become different when something hurts us. But do we lose our value from this? Maybe people who are unlike other are stronger?
We tend to think that if nothing [bad] happens to a person and he has a normal life, then everything is fine. But from the point of view of the Beast, such people are just sleeping. “
The heroes of Split are those whom, according to Shyamalan, are considered broken and abnormal. The director shows two ways out of a traumatic situation: the way of Kevin and the way of Casey. Both heroes became victims of early childhood abuse, but this made them stronger. Kevin gained physical superiority over those around him and became a supervillain. Casey became stronger mentally and managed to escape from the villain.
We can only hope that the supervillain will not frighten the inhabitants of Philadelphia for long, and it will take Shyamalan less than 15 years to create a new film. And when the heroes of Bruce Willis and James McAvoy come together in the final battle, we will keep our fingers crossed for the first – and prepare materials for the new article, of course.