“The Village” and “Hero”

Andy and I went to see “The Village” yesterday and I believe we both enjoyed it and yet feel that there was something missing. The movie made some wonderful comments about culture and our response to it. For those that have not seen the movie, I will probably be talking about things that will spoil the movie for you, so stop reading!

The premise is that a group got together because of some sort of tragedy in their lives (murder, rape) and decided that they should form their own community and go live on their own. In order to maintain the level of seclusion they desired they (and here is the plot twist that Shyamalan like to use) created “creatures” in the surrounding woods to keep people from venturing outside of their safe-haven. The charade is kept in place by keeping the story alive as well as using costumes to physically show that the creatures did, indeed, exist.

One of the great things about this movie is that these people wrestle with the notion that they are completely cut off from society and still have to deal with pain and suffering. They have to make decisions to either stay in their village or leave out into the unknown towns. In order to keep the innocence of the village they are often willing to suffer pain. The greater good of the idea wins out over the immediate need of a few individuals. It was really nice to see them struggle with these things.

When attempted murder creeps into their fair community they have to revise this idea. One of the daughters (Ivy), who is blind, is informed of the charade and is allowed to leave to community to fetch medicines to prevent infection of the victim (who is her intended). The intended murder is also an interesting comment, but I am not entirely sure what comment Shyamalan is intending to make. The man that intends to kill is mentally handicapped (Noah). It was also interesting because he is also killed off later in the movie, I have never seen a mentally handicapped person killed off in a movie, in this manner, before (that I can think of anyway). I don’t know if Shyamalan is suggesting that in a perfect society only those with mental illness could possibly commit such a heinous crime or of he was suggesting that this man was simply an extreme of what we all are. In once sense we are all mentally handicapped in that we are apart from God. We are all fallen and depraved and therefore sin. Noah is merely an extreme of what we all are and manifested his fallen state in a very drastic way that was not common in such a tight knit community.

One theme, that Andy pointed out, was different from Shyamalan’s previous films. His previous films have been about incorporating the supernatural into every day experience. Also, he is usually pointing out the goodness in man that that good endures through these supernatural experiences. In this film, the supernatural is fake. The goodness of man is not there, the fact that it is lacking is the reason the people leave and form their own community. When Ivy leaves the safe-haven of the woods she runs into a park ranger who is very kind and portrayed as innocent. This is opposite of what the community left and could lead to the belief that their reasons for leaving were invalid. As the park ranger goes to get her medical supplies he is talking to his superior (Shyamalan’s cameo) who is reading a news paper filled with articles about the horrible goings on in the world leaving you with the feeling that their actions were justified.

The theme of coming into enlightenment has been a common theme in many movies, including Shyamalan’s. People are in the darkness, the unknown and are somehow enlightened to what the truth is and it changes their lives. This film was different. Darkness was almost considered good or enlightened in itself. They were perfectly happy living in their own world, essentially in darkness about anything else in the world. They only character to leave is Ivy who is blind. One great comment that her father makes as people are questioning why she is the one to leave is that she is more capable than most the people in the village. Even through her blindness she can see and has a clear vision of what she has to do. In effect, more enlightened that others. I haven’t really developed this line of thought too much, and not completely sure what to do with it.

There are a few other themes that were also very well done in this movie that I won’t talk about (relying out the outside for salvation to mention one). The last one I want to mention is the idea of utopia and if it is possible, what would be the conditions for keeping that idea alive. I have already somewhat talked about this at the beginning, but it is important to mention again as it is what made Andy and I, although I think moreso with Andy, unsettled. The premise of the Village is that they have created a utopia, a safe-haven of innocence, if you will. The utopia did have its sorrows but they could still be deal with in the context of the idea of utopia. But the utopic state came crashing down with the actions of Noah. So what would be the conditions that they keep lying to their children and community members? When Noah died (actually, inadvertently killed by Ivy, who did not know it was him) he was masquerading as one of the “Creatures” and chasing after Ivy. She, now thinking the “Creatures” actually are real, kills him. The elders (who are the only ones in the Village that know of the farce) decide that Noah has re-affirmed their tale and the “Creatures” can go on living and maintaining the borders of the community. Andy, at least when we last talked, was quite unsettled by this, or didn’t know what to do with it. With all the evidence against their utopic idea, they they cannot escape the things that they originally left for, they still continue on. If the reason for their community had been shown to be invalid, it seems that the town would collapse. But for some reason they decide to continue lying to everyone to keep the idea alive. I guess this is where uneasiness has left me somewhat. I feel that, to them, the idea was still good and their secluded lifestyle will still be better than that outside.

There are a lot of things brought up in this movie that were very good and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I hope people have discussed the ideas brought up!

I also want to briefly mention the movie “Hero.” This is an amazing movie that deals with war and sacrifice. It is incredibly beautiful and the martial arts were stunning. It is a Chinese movie that has been out for about a year over there that for some reason, did not get picked up over here. Finally, of all people, Quentin Tarantino brought it over for the US (and Canadian!) audience. It is similar in genre to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” but I think I actually liked it better, and I really liked CT,HD. So essentially what I am saying is, “Go see this movie!”

Ok, back to reading,
Shalom

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

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