Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Review of The Village (2004)

This review contains spoilers. Watch the movie first before reading this.

The Village is about a group of people who isolate themselves, similar to the Amish. They have been told that there are creatures around them. Fear grips the community when dead animals are found all around them and they hear noises coming from the woods.

We later learn this is not the case at all. The monsters that surround the village are fake. Everything is an elaborate hoax perpetuated by the elders designed to keep the villagers from leaving. It is done to keep the villagers' way of life alive, to protect their culture.

I didn't watch this movie in the cinema where it was perfectly quiet or on DVD where I could read subtitles, but instead I watched it on TV, so sometimes it was difficult to hear the actors talk. In most if not all Shyamalan films, characters tend to talk very quietly, often whispering. This I don't think is a problem if there is enough silence in the room.

This is not a horror movie like House of Wax where we are served endless blood, gore, and homicides, all delivered with sudden music swells during moments of silence to shock the audience. I thought the mood was creepy and throughout the film there was a mild feeling of anxiety, but no masked killer will appear from nowhere to make you jump in your seat and there will be no over-the-top torture scenes to make you cringe like in Hostel.

One member of IMDB, bartond57, gave what I believe is a very good commentary on the film: "I felt is was a story about the power of myth, and how far people will go, even for good reasons, to perpetuate their myth. Innocence is a topic as well. How does one keep people innocent and trusting in a evil, sinful, world. And how far should someone go to 'protect' one's innocence? I grew up in a conservative religious subculture. This movie speaks to that experience. In the end, the decision by the elders was to continue their myth, regardless of the circumstances. I found this disappointing, but how true is it today with many religions? Religion can be a good thing, but it is always a struggle to know how much 'innocence' should be protected. How sheltered should we be? But even in the movie, the evil they were trying to run from (murders) took place in their own edenic setting. In other words, we can't run away from human nature. It is part of the human condition."

I feel the same way. The movie says a lot about how much of a role deception plays in keeping communities together. It reminds me of what Plato said about the Noble Lie, how the survival of a population relies on grand myths. People need to believe in ideas greater and more significant than their own individual selves or else they will descend into nihilism, which leads to chaos and a breakdown of society. These ideas are still popular in modern times with people like Strauss and even with today's politicians like Wolfowitz, who envisioned a role for America as a noble hero that fights injustice and spreads democracy on a world scale.

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