The Village

Recommended. DO NOT READ THIS BLOG IF YOU HAVE ANY DESIRE TO SEE THE MOVIE. Because the plot twist is very very important and will ruin the movie for you to know. Warning, Will Robinson! Go back! GO back! Okay, you’ve been warned. I love Shyamalan’s movies because they are so unpredictable and so unlike any other movies being made – and all rated a safe PG-13. Just for that alone, I applaud him. This story of a village somewhere in the early 1900s that is surrounded by forest monsters that keep them from adventuring out into the wild plays as an obvious metaphor. I mean, come on, you have to wear certain safe colors and avoid the unsafe color red that seems to draw “those whom we don’t speak about,” unseen monsters in the woods. And the town elders have black locked boxes of their past that no one can look inside. Well that’s fine. I like it, but I must admit about half way through I started thinking, just show us what it’s all a metaphor for. If you don’t know there’s a twist, you’re absorbed in the story (like Sixth Sense), but this one obviously has some explanation and you just want to find out too quickly. The plot twist is that this little town is actually an attempt by a modern billionaire to start his own old fashioned society away from the pain and evils of modern 21st century society. The “elders” of the city are all people at a counseling center who lost their loved ones to violent crime, so billionaire William Hurt convinces them to live in this enclave and raise new families in a huge forest preserve he owns. So the other townsfolk never realize they are living anachronisms. And we don’t know it either until the very end. Anyway, the blind girl who has fallen in love with a Joaquin Phoenix must venture out through the woods to get medicine for her lover, knifed by a crazy local. She is not only in danger from the monsters of the woods who may not let her pass, but the wild nature of “the towns” where she is going. But as Joaquin says, “The world moves for love.” So off she goes. Well, I reckon this movie can be interpreted two different ways. First, one may see it as an attack on traditional values. You know, the view that says, “Back in the good old days, people were more moral and if we could only turn back the clock, things would be better.” The town is ruled by elders, and they have created fear of monsters to keep the locals in line with their idyllic values of community. This is very much like the secular humanistic social theory about religion. Secularism has faith in naturalism and presupposes the death of God. Therefore, since religion CAN’T be true in their little myopic worldview, then religion MUST be the “creation” by clergy or elders of the supernatural to explain what they don’t understand of the natural, and fear of ethereal punishment to control the people to do what they say and avoid “progressive” society which will lead them astray into its accompanying wickedness and immorality (read: “free them from our control”). The problem is that this rejection of modern progress and society is a two-edged sword. The big city or “the towns” as they call them, are full of wickedness and evil, but they also have created the good advancement of medicine and technology that will help and heal man. So the very progress that brought increasing evil also brought increasing good. So if we try to avoid the bad, we will also be missing out on the good. Well, I am not entirely sure that this is the intent of the story. The reason I think this is because I know that Shyamalan has a spiritual worldview. He seems to be positive toward religion because of his background. Now, He does have a New Age spiritualism type view, but it is nonetheless positive toward the supernatural. So it is difficult to believe he would be attacking religion here, unless his New Age spirituality is the predictable “individual spirituality” that disdains “organized religion” in favor of unorganized so-called personal spirituality. Basically the religion of Individualism and relativism. Anyway, that is why I thought maybe another view may be more appropriate. That is 2) He may be attacking the secular humanistic “noble savage” theory of Rousseau. This is the belief that man is inherently good and his problem is civilization corrupts this goodness, so if he went back to a state of primitive nature, without modern civilization, he would find redemption. Okay, think of it, religion is conspicuously absent. The monsters in the wood are not considered angels or spirits but mutant physical beasts (evolution?). This is more akin to secular mythology than religious. Secondly, the whole flaw of the elders is shown in that they tried to get away from the evil that they experienced in the big city society, as if man is inherently good and society is bad. But the problem is that man is not inherently good, but inherently evil. So he will take his evil with him WHEREVER he goes. You cannot escape it. Society does not create evil, evil resides in the individual. And so crime comes to the small town in the form of the attempted murder that they tried to escape from in the big city. In other words, there is no such thing as a Utopia and cannot be because of man’s inherent nature. The problem with this take is that the small town is really not an attempt to be in nature without the rules of society, but rather another society, but just one that is more controlled by the elders. So, that would contradict the theory. But because of today’s postmodern eclecticism that likes to pick and choose beliefs that contradict one another, I suspect that this movie may be a little bit of both of what I suggest. The inconsistencies being a mere trifle to a New Age postmodern like Shyamalan. But no matter what, it really makes you think, and I like that.