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Film / The Village

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The Village is a 2004 mystery thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

The film takes place in an isolated 19th-century village in Pennsylvania, where the residents fear to venture outside as they believe that the woods surrounding their hamlet are inhabited by fell supernatural creatures, referred to only as "Those We Don't Speak Of". As an incident leads the creatures to begin antagonizing the villagers, one person must leave the confines of the village in order to gather medicine.

Like most of Shyamalan's films, The Village has a Twist Ending, and a quite controversial one at that; the film garnered so many split reactions, in large part due to the ending, that it's the reason why this film is widely seen in retrospect as the start of Shyamalan's fall from grace.

Rumors exist that the film was partially inspired by a Young Adult novel called Running Out of Time (note: reading the summary on that page will spoil this film).

Also note: as this is a suspense film, plot twists come steadily and often. So naturally, this page is spoiler-heavy.

This film provides examples of:

  • Acoustic License: Even if the village elders did somehow set up a No-Fly Zone, the villagers would still be able to hear airplanes even if they couldn't see them.
  • An Aesop: If you watch this movie immediately after Split, they have a very similar theme. Where Split portrayed negative experiences as a moment which empowered characters, in this film, 'innocence' is a curse. Noah is regarded as the most innocent of the town but he's a psychopath with no comprehension of the consequences of his actions. Then you have the town itself. Instead of getting away from the wrongs of the outside world, they simply sprung up from within. Considering their hardships, the founders didn't really accomplish anything. It's strongly hinted at throughout the film that Noah could have been treated with modern medicine, and the town did need the medicine to treat the knife wound.
  • Answer Cut: Kitty Walker professes her all-enveloping love to Lucius Hunt, asking him if he reciprocates. Cut to Kitty crying her eyes out as her sister comforts her.
  • Artistic License Geography: While Shyamalan attempts to explain the biggest Plot Hole in the premise by saying that the village itself is under a no fly zone, he also makes it clear that the village is in Pennsylvania. Given that all air traffic must cross just to enter or leave New York State or New England without entering Canadian airspace (or the slim strip of New Jersey), with 20 years' time and the relative size of Pennsylvania, it's virtually impossible that off-course or unchartered flights wouldn't be a regular problem. If anything, the public explanation for the no fly zone would have actually made it a popular spot for smugglers.
  • Aura Vision: Ivy Walker's Disability Super Power. Note that only certain people can be seen, which is why she doesn't know it's Noah under the costume at the end.
  • Ax-Crazy: Noah is literally crazy due to his mental illness.
  • Bathos: The Answer Cut from Kitty declaring her love for Lucius to her crying on the bed is clearly meant to be funny - if only due to the sheer Mood Whiplash. But at the same time, you still feel sorry for this poor girl who's had her heart broken.
  • Behind the Black: When Lucius steps out of the boundaries of the village, he comes across a bush of red berries. As he gazes to his right, the camera follows, revealing a creature just barely able to stay off screen. The next shot is from behind Lucius, as he calmly turns around and walks off, with no sign of any presence other than his.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The movie definitely doesn't end on a happy note. On one hand, Ivy made it back to the towns and Lucius will be saved from his grave injuries. On the other, it is revealed that the elders are leading the villagers to live a life of lie based on their own loss of faith in modern society. Whether or not the park ranger being aware of the Hidden Elf Village's existence is a good thing is also up for debate.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Ivy is outside trying to find Noah during a game of hide and seek, with a major rule being that neither can hide indoors. She has a conversation and a walk with Lucius, who takes her back to her house. She is asked by Kitty to fetch a blanket, and does  only since she is blind, she can't see Noah standing in the closet.
    • Christop Crane is said to not sit down because he doesn't like wrinkling his shirts. When at a wedding reception later on, Kitty receives a rather large hug beside him, prompting him to express discomfort over getting his shirt wrinkled by a similar hug.
  • Broken Aesop: On Edward Walker's part, if not M. Night Shyamalan's. His idea seems to be, roughly, that going back to a rural life style c. 1800s will protect their children from the violence their families experienced in the cities. As the film makes plain, though, violence is not absent even in rural, simple communities, and retreating to such a past makes formerly treatable injuries life-threatening. Worse, it requires them to lie and terrorize their children.
  • Cannot Spit It Out:
    • Lucius has the hardest time sharing his feelings for Ivy.
    • Averted by Kitty, who just spits out her declaration of love. She correctly assumes that Lucius is this, just not for her.
    • Implied with Edward and Alice, via Lucius's observation that the former never touches the latter; Alice later tests this at the wedding by trying to shake Edward's hand, who declines...
  • The Chief's Daughter: Ivy, and by extension her older sister Kitty, are the daughters of the head elder of the village.
  • City in a Bottle: The villagers are beginning to believe this, as the woods that surround their hamlet are surrounded by supernatural creatures. The Reveal shows that they're actually isolated from the rest of modern America.
  • Close-Knit Community: The story opens with a funeral attended by all the villagers, followed by a big outdoor meal at long tables.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: During the timeline of the movie, it's quite possible it was always Noah wearing the costume, thereby making him the monster.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: There is much ado made about the colors red and yellow. Not so coincidentally, yellow is used for marking the borders of the town, much like animal urine. The villagers' cloaks are also yellow, like an animal who urinated on themselves out of fear. Yellow also symbolizes fear in some cultures. Red would be blood, representing the negative aspects of being human. Regardless of how aggressively the villagers uproot and bury red plants, they still pop up within the town's borders.
  • Creator Cameo: Near the end of the film. The camera lingers on him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: All of the older adults had lost close loved ones (spouses, siblings) to murder, and shun "the towns" as a result where this happened. It's revealed this was the reason for them moving back to a 19th century style lifestyle. All of them had met in a support group for crime victims, with one who'd been a 19th century history professor proposing this, which they went along with.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Lucius is sidelined about halfway through the movie. Ivy is the actual hero.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • The village itself is filled with them. They're so ruled by fear that it has defined their very existence. This is further highlighted by their preference for the color yellow, which represents fear in various cultures, similar to an animal urinating on itself.
    • The elders, for sacrificing the welfare of their children and hiding in fear of the outside world. They get dinged again, for sending a blind girl when for ALL of them, it would be a simple stroll to the outside, which is NO mystery to them.
    • Ivy's two escorts abandon her in the forest out of fear, utterly failing to protect a girl they grew up with and should consider family.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Ivy is blind. The man who loves her, Noah, is developmentally handicapped.
  • Disappeared Dad: Lucius' father is said to have passed away when he was young. He was killed by a mugger on the way home from the grocery store apparently.
  • Downer Ending: The village elders have failed in what they set out to do, and have no intent to change.
  • Earth All Along: The film is set in the modern day, in a Hidden Elf Village, tucked inside a "wildlife preserve".
  • Empathic Environment: In the scene where Ivy and Lucius confess their love for each other, their eyes are connected by a beam of love backlit fog on the nearby horizon behind them.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Invoked. Lucius believes that he, being pure, can travel into the woods. He reaches this conclusion because Noah, who has an developmental and learning disability, shows proof that he has gone beyond the border and come back unharmed. Another character agrees that Ivy will be safer in the woods than he, as she is blind and the creatures will take pity on her.
  • The Fair Folk: The creatures initially appear to be vengeful spirit-creatures. But no, they're just people in suits.
  • The Fettered: The elders limit themselves and their subjects' ways of life around that of the 1800s.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Alice describes the black boxes that each of the village elders own as something that she has so "the evil things from [her] past are kept close and not forgotten."
    • The Cryptic Conversations following Lucius' stabbing, including, "if there were no limitations, what could there be done?"; the elders' Oath; and the emphasis on who "you" is.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • Lucius, serious and goal-oriented (Superego).
    • Ivy, The Heart of the trio (Ego).
    • Noah, has child-like behavior due to his mental illness (Id).
  • Genre Roulette: The film plays around with several genres, like with horror, drama, romance, thriller and psychological thriller. The very concept sounds like the plot of a horror movie on paper.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Lucius loves ginger-haired Ivy as much as she loves him.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Not only are the creatures that surround the Village malevolent, but the neighboring towns are full of bandits. Alice even tells her son Lucius, who is trying to travel to a different village, that his father's body washed down the river after two days of being outside of their village's borders.
  • Horror Hates a Rulebreaker: The titular Commune lives in fear of monsters in the woods and has a strict set of rules to avoid their attention. Subverted with The Reveal that the monsters are villagers in costumes trying to keep the community isolated by fear.
    "Let the bad color not be seen. It attracts them.
    Never enter the woods. That is where they wait.
  • Iconic Outfit: The monster costume in the movie was a hit, spawning its own cosplayer fan following.
  • In the Style of: The plot would have made for an excellent Twilight Zone episode.
  • Just Plane Wrong: Even if the village elders were able to set up a No-Fly Zone, that wouldn't guarantee no planes would ever fly over the village. Real life planes accidentally violate No-Fly Zones surprisingly often.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Between Ivy, Lucius and Noah.
    • To a much lesser extent with Edward, who is married to Tabitha but secretly loves Lucius' mother, Alice.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Those We Don't Speak Of look like a cross between pigs, trees and porcupines.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Averted. Ivy and Lucius are good people. It's Noah who goes crazy.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The movie was advertised as horror, when it is closer to drama or romance.
    • Some of the trailers stated that the events were taking place in the 19th century. They were trying to convince you for the sake of the movie, but they didn't have to say anything.
  • Nightmare Fuel: "Those We Don't Speak Of" are treated as such In-Universe, just like the elders wanted.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "Those We Don't Speak Of" get talked up an awful lot.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The creatures are barely seen, the horror instead coming from what the villagers fear they might do.
  • The Outside World: The blind protagonist is journeying to outside world beyond the titular village on a mission to retrieve medicine despite the monsters. The outside world is actually modern society, and the Elders had only set up the village to appear to be in the 1800s and surrounded by unknown dangers in order to start over and protect their kin from the murders and violence they witnessed in the "real world".
  • Personal Effects Reveal: How the Twist Ending commences. The Walkers open a trunk full of "forbidden objects" and stare at a photograph of themselves in younger days... wait, is that photo in color? And are those fashions from The '70s???
  • The Power of Love: Why Edward believes Ivy will survive the trip into the woods.
    Edward:: "The world moves for love. It kneels before it in awe."
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Mr. Walker, and actually all the town elders in a way. The movie actually deserves credit for not taking the tired path of mean puritan judges who won't listen to reason. True, there are still falsehoods being kept, but they don't resort to physical cruelty, violence and trials to maintain it, and at least a reason for doing so is presented in the end. This is perfectly justified; the movie is actually set in the present day, and the elders created the village as a refuge from the greed, cruelty and violence of the modern world, hoping they could raise their children to be Perfect Pacifist People through example. It mostly worked, as pretty much everyone is kind and empathetic. Unfortunately, they didn't account for the possibility of bearing children with mental illnesses; it's implied that Noah's condition could be treatable, but instead he ends up attacking Lucius and later Ivy.
    • Also subverted. Mr. Walker strongly implies he chose to let Ivy go blind rather than get her medicine in the towns, and Noah's parents cruelly and foolishly use solitary confinement to punish him for his uncontrollable actions, making him ultimately Go Mad from the Isolation.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: "Those We Don't Speak Of" are clad in red cloaks with some black accents along with brown beast-looking features. They're costumes. Likewise, red is considered a bad color.
  • The Reveal:
    • "Those We Don't Speak Of" don't actually exist.
    • The elders are so concerned about the village's innocence and purity because they have all been traumatized by modern society and believe that returning to an 1800s style of living will protect them and remove any further personal harm or grief.
  • Scare Dare: The test is to stand with your back to the haunted woods; first one to give up loses.
  • Scenery Porn: Like much of Shyamalan's work, the cinematography is on point and showcases the idyllic village gracefully.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: "Those We Don't Speak Of" aren't real monsters, but people in costumes making sure that nobody attempts to leave the village.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Implied with Edward Walker. It's his name on the huge nature preserve that the village is situated in, and he seems to have some political clout for him to be able to get a no-fly zone implemented for that area. At one point Edward talks of his father's talent for making money, and a newspaper in the black box reads "Billionaire Walker Shot to Death" revealing his father died, so he very much inherited his wealth and the clout associated with it.
  • Sibling Triangle: Ivy's older sister Kitty is in love with Lucius, but Lucius is in love with Ivy. When Kitty asks Lucius to marry her, he turns her down and she's visibly hurt by it. By the time Lucius and Ivy got together, Kitty had already married someone else.
  • Tomato Surprise: Edward reveals to Ivy that Those We Don't Speak Of are actually costumes worn by the Elders, and that the rituals surrounding them are equally farcical, as a measure of control so that no one leaves the town.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Lucius, Noah and Ivy are all childhood friends.
  • Uncanny Village: The titular village; while almost everyone in it is peaceful, it's clearly hiding a dark secret and even some of the children act in strange ways due to their ritualistic fear of the monsters in the woods.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The peace of the village is supposedly worth giving up modern living.
  • The Wall Around the World: Separating it from highways.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: The elders end up asking themselves this in the end; despite the sacrifices they both made and forced on their children (Ivy's blindness was stated to have been preventable in a modern hospital), and successfully isolating themselves from the outside world, violence sprang up in their pacifist community anyway due to Noah's mental illness. They can blame Noah's death on "Those We Don't Speak Of" to cement the ruse, but how long can it really last? Given the interest of the guards at the end of the film, sooner or later someone is going to stumble upon it from the outside.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The plot of the movie is quite similar to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Paradise": a remote farming village is kept forcibly isolated from the modern world by its leaders, while most of its inhabitants are ignorant of this. Said isolation also leads to the villagers being denied modern medical care, leading to the death of people who could otherwise be easily cured. These deaths serve as a catalyst for the protagonists to try to connect to the outside world. In the end they manage to do that, so the isolation is broken and the leaders' plot is revealed, but it remains ambiguous whether it was right or wrong for the leaders to separate their community from the modern world and its technologies.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Pushed to its limit by the twist. CinemaSins goes into detail about all the impossible things required for it to work.