Terrifying creatures come out of the woods; animal carcasses are found scattered on the grass; blood is splashed across doors. But that’s not all. Directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan, The Village rivals all his other thrillers - Signs, Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense - with a fine hallmark plot-twist, fabulous foreboding atmosphere and bonus metaphorical musings. That said it’s not without its weaknesses.
A small bucolic village in 1890s Pennsylvania lives in rising fear of mysterious monsters with whom they have lived at peace for years. The villagers’ rituals are no longer enough to keep the creatures at bay after young Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) takes a step into the forbidden woods outside the village borders. Meanwhile, romance develops between the strange and quiet Lucius and blind girl Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard). Lucius also resolves to travel to the wicked towns beyond the woods in search of medicine for the village idiot, Noah. Although the village elders are opposed to his quest, unexpected events mean such a journey becomes essential and reveals secrets that may change the future of the village forever.
Deftly written and directed, The Village maintains suspense and generates surprise with unanticipated twists. And it is superbly stylish; James Newson Howard’s score and sounds of the forest, with cinematography by the superlative Roger Deakins, evokes an entrancing and spooky world of eerie darkness and grey light falling through trees. The creature costumes are splendid, using ‘the bad colour’ (red) to enshroud a spiny and pathetic creature with long claws (reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands). The acting is solid all-round with a stellar cast of William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Joaquin Phoenix and Adrien Brody. Phoenix’s dark and pained acting possibly drew on the loss of his brother (River Phoenix), as Shyamalan reportedly wrote the part for him. Brody’s portrayal of the village idiot is convincing and touching, whilst debutante Bryce Dallas Howard leads the way with a forceful and assured performance as Ivy.
But the script falters in places: a cringe-worthy love scene between Ivy and Lucius on the porch is only marginally worse than Mr Hunt’s (Ivy’s father) blunt and bald speech on love and salvation. Shyamalan’s bigger project also slinks from the woods in the form of an unfortunately facile allegory. He makes the landscape a metaphor for the psyche; the village representing our inner sanctums, protected from fear outside (the woods) and sorrows beyond (the towns). Colours and names hold symbolic meaning too; red indicates fear, and yellow, protection or light. Lucius Hunt, as his name suggests, is hunting for the light of truth (medicine?) and Ivy Walker just walks (over ivy). Although his metaphors are embarrassingly clichéd, it was such a surprise to find them in The Village that I was taken with them for a moment, until I realised how obvious they were.
So see The Village for an atmospheric treat and a well-acted clever tale. Don’t expect too much from the script though – like the village folk, Shyamalan’s psychological lessons prove to be relatively primitive.
08 Oct 2012, 04:56
Below are a few questions that were pinoted out which keeps me thinking or
what can be changed within the script. 3 laws of robotics: How about
interaction with other life forms, how wouldthe robots deal with them? the
beginning of the script doesn't specify ifwe are indeed on planet earth or
notÅ Maybe fauna and flaura survival ismore important that robots survival
as rule 3 states! - This is something that will be more clear as we get
further into the story line. The robots were created to assist society with
things to where man kinds may have pushed to the way side. The interaction
to other beings such as humans and animals was set in their programming so
that the three laws were in effect. What this means is that most if not all
robots to put here to assist us with daily tasks. - You are correct, the
story line does not state where this is taking place, at least not right
off the bat. The story is indeed taking place here on Earth. At the very
beginning that world governments are all together which is a very scary
situation which why there is a considerable amount of tension about the use
of the robots in the battle field. Why do we want to change the rules?
they seemed logicalÅ As a reader, Istill didn't understand how these rules
incurred a war and how changingthem would prevent it from happening again?
Do we or can we know whichchanges Dr. Reinhold made to the laws of robotics
before disappearing? Oris this something that we will be able to figure out
later as the storyprogresses? - We as a society are not changing the
programming and most are against the changes that are proposed by the world
government. Since the use of robots have been around for many years, most
of aware of what could have if the programming could be changed. Within the
woeld governement as it stands, there is one that is willing to take the
chance that any changes will or will not affect man kind. This person is
well aware of the consequences and is forcing Dr. Reinhold into a bad
position. - The three laws still exist and are in affect. The problem that
remains is that a certain type of robot was reprogrammed to ignore what
those laws meant in order to accomplish a goal that the governement wanted.
- The changes that were made to the programming will be revealed later in
the story. Pay attention to what Ivy finds later on, This was not clear
in the script, but is this COMM bot the same Ivy botthat will be looking
for Dr. Reinhold? - No. The Comm Bot that escaped had a homing device which
if activated, would caused it go back to where it was created. Hint
Hint.:-) Is Dr. Reinhold an evil person? did he unintentionally cause the
war? Orwas he forced into it because he was kidnapped and tortured
byaliens/rogue government? Since he was the one re-programming the
chips,does he have remote powers over these robots? can he remotely
influencetheir behavior? - No, The good Doctor has been against this
project the whole time since he was the one that initially creating the
robots. Yes, what he did was unintentional because he was forced into the
position that he ended up in. I guess you could say that the govenment at
hand was a rogue government since they became one years before. - We really
don't know what kinds of power that the doctor has at this time due to the
fact that he disappeared after the deployment of the programming changes.
We can only assume at this time that maybe he still is alive and holds the
key to the fixing this issue. Only Ivy will find out what happened. -)