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The Village (2004)

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The
Village
 
Directed by: M. Night Shyalaman
Screenwriter: M. Night Shyalaman
Starring: Juaoqin Pheonix, Bryce Dallas Howard, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Adrian Brody
 

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AKA
"The Creatures from the
Black Forest"

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SUMMARY:
 
"We are grateful for the time we have been given, and for the grace of this land we have settled in."

These words were spoken by William Hurt, who plays the town leader in M. Night's newest addition to his suspense foray, "The Village". Set in a rural village of pioneers that have settled in an area surrounded by a vast forest, Night unveils a world of innocence and doubt that locks our imaginations and opens a vast array of "what ifs".

The village people (not the band) are simple pioneers who tend the land and work for the good of their whole community. They are proper in their old American ways and bear strong moral foudnations. Yet past this mask of innocence lies a face of doubt and wonder that the villagers, mostly the youth, bear in the back of their minds. With the death of a young child due to lack of medicines, Lucius Hunt (Pheonix), a determined and fearless village lad, suggests to the elders that they must venture to the towns beyond the woods to retrieve a fresh supply of medical aids. The elders are wary to let Lucius venture out though, due to a pact made between the settlers and "those we don't speak of", dark creatures that dwell in the woods surrounding the village. "We do not venture into their woods, and they do not come into our village." Yet all of this is about to change, with Lucius' strong convictions that aid must be reached.

When the creatures are soon sighted in the village, and tragedy strikes the village, the elders are forced to consider the daring plans of Lucius Hunt and the blind daughter of the town leader, Ivy Walker (Howard). But what awaits them in the deep darkness of the woods is something that could change the settlers of the village.. forever.

POSTIVE ELEMENTS:

The film explores deep philosophical ideals which I thought were fantastically well thought out. Even in seclusion, can you escape the human tendencies of sin? Will not greed, violence, jealousy, and rage all enter even the most innocent of villages, no matter how hard you try to hide them? These ideas all appear in the film, sometimes straight forward, sometimes you have to look for them (HINT for symbolisms : The Towns, the Black Boxes, and the Shed).

Also, the moral convictions of the villagers are strong and their intentions are pure, encouraging viewers to follow their example. Ivy shows kindness to a mentally challenged villager, Noah (Brody), when others do not. Lucius is determined to do what is right no matter the cost, sometimes forcing him to tell the truth when it hurts and fight for the causes no one else cares for. The town is also devout in their Christian beliefs, with prayer being said over each feast.

The content of this movie is surprisingly clean, as are most of Night's movies. Their is absolutely no sexual content, despite some passionate kisses. Also, there was no foul language, as far as I remember, and the violence is done tastefully. Also, on an artistic note, the pacing of this film was very well done and the character development and performances are full of heart.

NEGATIVE ELEMENTS:

Despite it being a rather clean movie, the "Village" is intense. The emotional moments are well performed, though sometimes they can be slightly distrubing. One such moment deals with the jealousy and rage that some characters have towards another, with an attempted murder and anger enacted on the perpetrator. The emotional moments are full of sorrow, and anyone who is extremely sensitive may find these moments to be too much to view. There are a few occassions when blood is shown, though not extravagently.

On another artistic note, one thing I foudn that didn't work in this movie was the director's use of dialogue. The words were very powerful and found a better voice in the actors rather than being read in the script (which I reviewed halfway through, and found myself gagging at some of the lines without a performance). The main problem with the language was that it is venacular (culturally defined) and was appropriate for the setting of the village, though it seems a tad odd to our ears. I'm sure that the Village would have been just as grand and woudl have swept us into the rural world without the accurate use of vocabulary in the setting of Pennsylvania. Also, if you're good at guessing endings of thrillers, I would suggest holding off on the gift. I figured out the ending about halfway through, and while it was still profound, I found I was kicking msyelf at not holding off to be surprised.

CONSENSUS:

A wonderful film for all of Night's fans, and likeably different for those who are not, "The Village" succeeds on delivering an intriguing tale of suspense and emotion. Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard's daughter, lights up the screen in her first performance as the blind villager that sees only supernatural colors, and everyone else does a fantastic job. While the film may seem to drag at the beginning, I strongly suggest to be patient, for the goods are coming.

What I feel most critics hated about this movie is the expectation that it would be more suspenseful (who made the tagline "Run. The trcue is ending" anyway?), which I feel it succeeded in fairly well, and its ideals. The Village deals with the fact that the evil of this world cannot be escaped, and we must face it rather than running in fear. The world may look on this film and say "Hey. What's Night talking about anyway? The world isn't THAT evil!" Some critics may see this film as being non-humanistic, disbelieving in humanity's capability to reach perfection on its own.

Yet as Christians, we know differently. The world is evil, and all we can do is look to Christ and remain steady. We cannot give up on doing what is right, no matter how tiring it is. Being a teenager, I can only speculate on this fact, but what I believe causes many adults to settle for a safe environment and a stable life is teh beatings that this world delivers. We become tired only after so much, and realize we cannot defeat the world and our dreams may have been too extravagent. The fact is, we cannot defeat the world. We cannot force others to live for Godly ideals. What we can do, though, is never give up facing the world and its darkness, for we are on the side of the One who shall defeat the world and the prince of darkness. We should not settle down for a stable living in which we remain safe, but make no major difference. It is never wrong to have dreams, for God has given them to us. No matter how dark this world may seem, we can never give up fighting for the cause we believe in with all that we have. We should never lose our strength, for God shall supply us with His. 2 Corin. 4:8 says "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we do not give up and quit."

Though I myself have yet to face all of the trials of growing up into a full adult and becoming what I will be for the rest of my life, my advice right now to you all would be to never let the world get you down. You may feel that you cannot make much of a difference, but that is the Enemy speaking to you. Nothing is impossible with Christ. While it may be safer to remain in the innocence of the village and deal with teh few things that may be wrong, we know that we have to face the darkness that surrounds us. This darkness will not avoid entering our environment, so why do we stay and let it come? There is no compromise. It is all a myth. The world will throw all it has at us, and even if we avoid it and call it "those we don't speak of", nothing will change unless we act. Never fear entering the dark woods, for you have a companion at your side, who can help you see and fight for the real truth.