Friday, September 14, 2007

The Village: An alternative movie review

*Spoiler alert: Herein lies information that will surely spoil the suspense.*

The Village was panned by some critics, praised by others. Starting as a quaint tale of an isolated 19th century town in wholesome America, we quickly learn of an ineffable force, alien and powerful, that lives in the forest surrounding the townspeople. A council of male and female elders (none very old) leads the group through some tragedies, including some sickness, and an emerging conflict with the others in the woods.

Still, the villagers continue their idyll, singing songs, eating together, asking for the parental hand in sweet loving marriages, and working side by side in gardens and craft pursuits-- very gentile and almost Amish. When freakish skinned carcasses of wild and farm animals begin appearring, a coyote is blamed, and all are asked to be careful. When a local is mauled, a young man of the village decides to venture forth to the evil world to fetch medicine and assistance.

Now here's the big suprise: this perfect little village is a creation of world-weary city dwellers who banded together to artifically create a little community free of crime, trans fat, and electronic equipment--namely, The Elders. These creative people were all wounded individuals going to group grief therapy. They bought a large plot of land, educated themselves about the past, and even decided to speak in a decidedly poetic version of English. And the magical creatures in the woods? Just a construct to keep people from wanting to roam away from the village.

So the children of the village are imprisoned by their fear and their programming, of an evil outside world, and violent creatures in the woods. By creating these boundaries, The Elders seek to control the community and protect it from modernity--the age they had to suffer. They believed they could do it better, protecting all the citizens. However, when a psychopath is raised among them, they cannot blame it on modernity or child just happened.

An analogy can be made between any sheltered populace and this village. Not knowing the truth of the world "outside" can create irrational fear of the other. How many times do our own decisions shelter us from the truth of other people and other things? I have a few examples.

A person who lives outside of organized religion can be afraid of it. Afraid of the power that religious organizations can have on all our lives, afraid of spiritual/magical thinking, afraid of blind faith and its implications. Some fears are founded. However, the most fearful aspect is that outsiders can make assuptions about groups that run their whole lives and cause them to disregard the members of the religion as their own people. Why be afraid and isolated?

I see people spending hours discussing "how not to be". What religious beliefs NOT to have. What politicians NOT to trust. What stories NOT to believe. What topics NOT to broach. Why can't we discuss who we are, and what we believe, instead of defining outselves as Opposition?

When we shelter ourselves, we are not able to even comprehend other people's lives.

When I first moved to Ypsilanti, MI, I admit I was a little spooked. I saw young guys drive around in cars blasting their 'urban' music. Young ladies walked around the sidewalks, pregnant with another baby on the way. Teens walked along the highway, or tossed a ball across the street. Paint jobs were neglected, here and there. The grocery store had narrow aisles and weird merchandise, and people seemed to holler at their kids more. Some guy drove his motorized wheelchair around downtown in the streets. It looked POOR. It looked UNEDUCATED. It looked INTIMIDATING.

My reaction was a carryover from my sheltered, white, middle class, small-town, Alaskan youth. I'm embarassed for being afraid, but it was (and still is to some extent) the truth. I don't understand what it is to be without a college education, and to fight tooth and nail for an Associate's degree over a ten-year time period. I don't understand buying all generic and giving up a pound of beef for a pack of cigarettes. I don't understand young mothers. And I certainly don't understand what it is to be African American in this country.

But being sheltered didn't help me, and it didn't help the villagers. We all have the same problems eventually, no wall can keep them out. Its corny, but the best way to mediate problems of life is to love one another, and seek to understand even the things we are tempted to hide from and judge.

Why am I such a cornball? Sorry.

1 comment:

Movie Review Guy said...

I would have liked it had they not marketed it as a horror movie. You can't advertise a monster movie and not have monsters in it.