The Village - Journal of Omnifarious
Aug. 15th, 2004
01:46 am - The Village
I think "The Village" is really good. Better than "Unbreakable", which is the only other movie I've seen by that director. It took several people telling me that it wasn't a horror movie to get me to go watch it. The trailers lied. I suspect the trailers have lied about every single movie that director has made. His movies aren't easily summarized in a trailer, and the temptation would be to try to sell them as horror movies when they aren't, in the traditional sense.
Like most of my reviews, this will be a ramble of different points rather than a cohesive whole.
The first thing I thought as I was watching the movie was that the director was heavy-handidly using the creatures in the woods as a metaphor for the villagers' fears of the outside world. This was in the first 15-30 minutes of the movie.
At first, the ponderous dialog and flat delivery bothered me. But after awhile, it seemed like the dialog was a symptom of the hidden inner tension that filled these people's lives. In their heroic effort to shut out the fear that ruled them, they purposely adopted a quiet and careful manner.
At first, I thought the creatures were the director's metaphor. But, it turns out that they were the conjurings of the villagers themselves. They gave a name and a face to their fear, to their reasons for being there. That was powerful, because people do that all the time without realizing it.
I also figured out that the village actually existed in the modern world pretty early on in the movie. Their talk of medicines made me realize it pretty quickly, as the time period they seemed to be trying to re-create was one in which a village like that wouldn't have any medical facilities that were any worse than what you could find in a large city.
I was really impressed with the movie overall, and felt like it made an excellent companion movie to the two other political movies of the summer. The Village was a study in how people responded to a pervasive atmosphere of fear, and why they might even purposely create such an atmosphere. That's very applicable to our current political situation. And, in truth, the people of the village didn't even escape from what they were most afraid of, because the seed of what they were afraid of lies in every human being. They were literally afraid of themselves.
I felt, after 9/11, that the country almost breathed a sigh of relief at having someone to be afraid of again. It couldn't be the Germans, the communists, or the Japanese anymore. But finally, the terrorists came and gave us our comfortable fear again. It seemed to me like a lot of people were happy to have that pattern back. That's why I felt that "The Village" is a companion piece to "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Fahrenheit 9/11".
Maybe having an enemy to fear allows us to avoid having a good hard look at ourselves.