All About M. Night Shyamalan's The Village
So you just caught M. Night Shyamalan's The Village and you have some questions. That's cool. Let's see if Irregular.com can find you some answers. Make sure that you have in fact already seen the movie. This Q & A will spoil the movie's many rich twists and surprises if you haven't given Shyamalan's great film a chance.
I'm confused. Ivy scales a fence and winds up in the modern world. What's the deal here?
"We are grateful for the time that we are given," isn't just Edward Walker's solemn tribute at the opening wake, it's a confession. The elders have created a time and a place removed from the modern world. A little over two decades earlier those who are now the elders lived in the metropolitan city (Philadelphia more than likely). They each lost a family member to a violent death and grieved together at a counseling center. It was there where Edward and his family, armed with a sizeable inheritance from his father, came up with the idea of funding the Walker Preserve, a protected parcel of land, to set up The Village. The elders took an oath that they would never return to the "towns" so they concocted the myth of the creatures to make sure that their children would never attempt to venture outside of their border.
The movie opens with a funeral for a young boy with the tombstone reading that he died in 1897. Why bother to date this when the kids have no idea what the outside world is like?
Well, suspend the notion that this deception is necessary to make the film's zinger at the end that much more impressive. Edward was a college history professor. By turning the clock back over a hundred years he could still use old history books to educate the children without having to explain modern day conveniences like airplanes and televisions. It's also important to note that the elders chose to escape the modern world. Turning back the calendar probably had its psychological advantages.
Who was skinning the animals?
Noah, the village idiot. When his parents discover that he has escaped from the crying room by tearing through the floorboards they also find feathers and furs and realize that the creature costume is missing. His mother shouts out "the animals" knowing full well that it was he who was strangling the livestock and plucking the critters. It makes sense in retrospect. Even in the opening scene where he seems to be relishing the creature catcalls -- that the elders were in fact staging to make sure the children would fear the borders -- he seems to be aloof as the lone joyous voice. In fact, he probably already knew that it was all a farce by then and laughing at everyone else would make sense for even someone with a clearer mind.
So Noah did all of the scaring in the village?
No. That's why the elders had the costumes in the shed. But those scares were always orchestrated. When Edward stumbles across the first skinned animal by the schoolyard, or when he is overly concerned when the two young boys break into the wedding reception and claim to have seen the creature -- knowing that no elder staged it -- he realizes that someone else is up to no good. Up to that point Alice Hunt's explanation that it is probably coyotes isn't just for show. She believes it. It's why she finally realizes someone is running afoul when she sees the red slashes on the doors -- Noah's doing no doubt -- and points out that it is too high for the coyotes.
Why did they let the 7-year-old boy die at the beginning? Didn't they have access to the medicine all along?
They took an oath. From his death to Ivy's blindness, these are instances that may have been cured in the real world, but they held to the oath. The modern world had cures but it also had more horrific and uncivilized deaths in their own families. It was a trade-off they were willing to make to preserve the complete illusion of their preferred way of life.
Of all people why send out Ivy? She was blind!
That's why she was the ONLY person who could do it. All of the elders had taken an oath. A blind person was the only other person who would have been able to retrieve the medicine for Lucius without learning about the real illusion, beyond Those We Don't Speak Of.
Is Lucius saved at the end?
Probably. The elder medic indicated that the wounds had healed but the infection would kill him. The medicine that Ivy was ordered to retrieve would remedy the situation. It is safe to assume that Ivy and Lucius would eventually wed and be among the first of the children to be broken in as elders to continue to rite.
What's the deal with the magic rocks that Ivy was carrying?
Whether it was Edward or Ivy's idea it was a way to keep her two escorts from freaking out. Once Ivy realized that it wouldn't work as the last one ran off she emptied them out.
How was Ivy able to kill Noah?
Well, she never did know it was Noah. She heard the creature and assumed the worse. When she pulled herself out of the sinkhole, before her encounter with a costumed Noah, she noticed the shape of the tree -- as a way to make sure that on her way back she would remember to go around the hole. In retreat from a charging Noah she feels it again and realizes that all she has to do is trick him into a charge and pull away like a tolero to have the creature fall in.
Where was the Shyamalan cameo?
In Hitchcock tradition, Shyamalan finds his way into his movies. In Unbreakable he's the suspicious-looking guy at the stadium who gets padded down while in line at the concession stand. In Signs he plays a more prominent role as the person who killed Mel Gibson's character's wife. Here you will find him at the end as the boss of Kevin -- the security patrol who assists Ivy. When Kevin enters his office to retrieve the antibiotics, Shyamalan is reading the paper and you see his reflection on the glass when Kevin opens it to swipe the medicine.
Does the movie endorse this way of life?
It's obviously done respectfully. Even the paper that Shyamalan's character is reading and the radio he's listening to is ripe with headlines of missing children and casualties of war. The sect that the elders created isn't Amish or even Puritan. Obviously they have no problem with joking, dancing and cavorting about. They simply longed for the innocence of an earlier time. You can't blame them on that front -- even if you can blast them for not taking the best that technological advances have offered.
Hasn't Shyamalan used the color red as a danger sign before?
Indeed. In his classic The Sixth Sense he intentionally inserted bright red objects as a symbol that something ominous was about to happen. Why did the elders choose red? Well, as Noah realized when he had his hands covered in Lucius' blood -- it's the wrong color. They had all suffered savage attacks on their own family members. Red was the ideal color. Then again, one could argue that green may also have been apropos given Edward's insistence that it was money that poisoned people -- hence their currency-free way of life -- but red obviously strikes better theatrically.
Did Ivy ever explain what color she saw in Lucius?
No. My bet would be that the color she saw in him was red, and it would have been offensive to let him know. Red as in heart red, as she obviously was in love with him.
Wait a minute! There were maybe a dozen people in that photograph by the counseling center. Where did all the kids come from? These aren't rabbits, right?
Well the elders aren't the only grown-ups in the town. You don't see many but they are there, like the lady who is being questioned by the elders and asks if Lucius and Ivy are in fact smitten. So we don't know the exact process of how others came to populate the village but, in theory, one would think that Edward could have founded other like-minded adults with skills necessary to help craft a small village and keep it going. The kids were plenty -- whether it was the stork or perhaps some aggressive adopting of orphaned infants to shelter them from the world that took their parents away -- why bother to demand an explanation. It's cooler that way to see so many villagers eating at the long tables and in the schoolyard playing.