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Village Finds Its Idiot - Riffs and Licks
steelbrassnwood
steelbrassnwood
Village Finds Its Idiot
M. Night Shyamalan's latest starts well, with a compellingly creepy atmosphere and hints of something Very Wrong in a small rural town. But once he exposes the central plot trick, it's all downhill from there.



Despite the dates on the gravestone in the first scene, it's not the 19th century; it's the present day, but the town elders have isolated themselves in order to raise their children free from the evil influences of the modern world. The monsters that haunt the village are just elders in suits, maintaining the fiction and keeping everyone scared. It's like Amish Country with teeth.

So when a young man in town is dying for lack of medicine, one of the town elders sends his blind daughter on a day-long walk through the woods to "the towns" to get medicine. When she exits the woods, they turn out to be part of a closely guarded "wildlife reserve," maintained, it seems, by her father, whose name is on all the security trucks, and whose father was a billionaire murdered by a business partner.

What's wrong with this guy? He spends millions setting this up and can't pay someone to leave a box of medicine in the woods? Or find someone other than his blind daughter to walk alone to the woods and negotiate for medicine with strangers in a world she is completely unfamiliar with? Or mention the fact that there are guards, and a wall?

As bobhowe noted, it would have been a better story had there really been something supernatural in the woods.

Side Note
Author Margaret Peterson Haddix is considering a lawsuit against Shyamalan and Disney for appropriating ideas from her novel, Running Out Of Time, in which a young girl raised in a town where the elders have maintained the fiction that they live in the mid-19th century has to go to the modern world to get medicine.

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Comments
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: August 20th, 2004 02:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Concur. Crossposted in the review by pixelfish.
shunn From: shunn Date: August 20th, 2004 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

"It doesn't make the film any more entertaining"

From Ebert's Aug. 8 "Movie Answer Man" column:

"The Village" stirred up a lot of activity in the Answer Man's world, with 162 readers passionately defending or attacking it in about equal numbers. Some of its defenders argued that the "surprise ending" was beside the point.

Ben Angstadt of Irmo, S.C., wrote: "So did you totally miss the point that 'The Village' was about the politics of terror and George W. Bush, or did you just not care?"

And Erik Goodwyn of Cincinnati wrote -- spoiler warning: "What I mean is that even though the creatures aren't scary once their secret is revealed -- that's the point! Shyamalan is saying something very pointed about the peculiar nature of fear."

Several other readers saw the film as an allegory for terror used as an excuse for political repression. That didn't occur to me, but as a theory it doesn't make the film any more entertaining, in my opinion.
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: August 21st, 2004 09:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: "It doesn't make the film any more entertaining"

Yes, I missed the allegory to our current political climate, if in fact there was such an allegory. Regardless: noble motives do not necessarily make for great art, and in fact there's some precedent to believe the reverse is true.
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