The Village


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"




Cert 12A

Peter Bradshaw
Friday August 20, 2004
The Guardian

Wear not the bad colour - for it angers them! Do not go into the woods - for that is where they live! Reveal not the surprise ending - for it is completely rubbish!
This absurd and badly plotted thriller from director M Night Shyamalan has sent his reputation south like dotcom stock, leaving those of us who invested massively after his breakthrough movies The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable with a barrowload of worthless shares on our hands. Shyamalan had such a sensational impact with those two sinuous, elegant movies, becoming the Chubby Checker of Hollywood, the king of the twist, and cut an auteurist dash by writing, producing, directing and making a sly, Hitchcockian cameo in each. (Perhaps only Alejandro Amenábar or Robert Rodriguez do more, by actually composing the music.) Then came the disappointing Signs, his film about - ooo-er! - corn circles, probably the least scary subject in the world.
Now this. It's a period-costume chiller about the remote village community of Covington, Pennsylvania, whose little collection of farm dwellings, clapboard houses and church is surrounded by a dark and mysterious forest in which horrifying creatures are said to live, and can be heard howling at night. The villagers are ruled over by a committee of religious elders including William Hurt, Brendan Gleeson and Sigourney Weaver, who have evidently brokered a deal with the woodland beasties. As long as no human ventures out into their domain, no monsters will come into the village.
However, the humans must suppress all signs of the colour red, for it sends the forest creatures into a murderous rage. All red clothes are forbidden and red berries must be hastily buried. But after the tragic death of a child, villager Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix) - an intense young fellow, and a man of few words - tells the elders that he wants to journey through the forest to reach the rumoured "towns" beyond, where they have modern amenities that might have saved the infant. The elders forbid it, but Lucius won't be told.
Shyamalan certainly returns to the twisty style which he appeared to have abandoned for Signs. There's a medium-sized twist half-way through, then a sort of mini counter-twist where the first twist seems to be cancelled out, and then for the finale a mega-twist so massive it's intended to leave you with whiplash, a neck-brace and many months of chiropractic therapy. But in each case the twist is telegraphed with a feeble explanation which dulls the impact and this final twist just doesn't work in the first place. It's only effective for about a fraction of a second before you're thinking: whaaat? Then the whole conceit falls down one of the many, many bus-sized plot holes that Shyamalan has left in his script. Which is frankly a mess. The Village suffers from precisely that banal and ubiquitous vice which this director had made his name by avoiding: it starts strongly and tails off - quite spectacularly.
This community, with its communal paranoia, has something of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, although is set in a later period. A shot of the gravestone for the child's funeral presents us with the date 1897. Newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard does well, playing spirited local beauty Ivy Walker who is in love with Lucius. She is blind, and the wisdom and moral vision that blindness traditionally confers reminded me of both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Lars von Trier. Howard is due to star in Von Trier's next film, which perhaps accounts for that second resemblance, but something in the village's ahistorical Americana is actually quite Von Trier-ish.
It's the normal life of the place, before various transgressions send the storyline creaking and clanking into silliness, which is creepily intriguing. Various festivals, high days and holidays are happily conducted, while someone is deputed to fling a side of ham out into the forest as a propitiatory tribute to the forest-monsters. The settlement perimeter is marked by watchtowers and torches and the village has its own cadre of border guards dressed in a sort of monk's habit in a mustard colour, which is thought to soothe the creatures. It is like witnessing the home life of a giant, dysfunctional family, or perhaps one half of the family, the half that lives out of the shadows. Within this half, there are loves, and plots and intrigues. Alice Hunt (Weaver) suspects that Edward Walker (Hurt) is actually in love with her, but is too shy and high-minded to do anything about it. As the village idiot Noah, Adrien Brody gives the most gibberingly OTT performance since John Mills in Ryan's Daughter.
But from here it's all downhill. The fate of poor giggling, flinching Noah is just ridiculous. Like much else, it signally fails to convince or make sense. Ivy is finally despatched through the forest to the towns to get "medicines". A blind woman sent into a forest? To get "medicines"? For a stab-wound? The forest itself becomes a kind of sub-Blair Witch location but fails to learn that movie's lesson that the creatures are only scary when you don't see them. And Shyamalan's script bears unhappy signs of having been rewritten and over-written in a forced attempt to make that big plot twist work. The director himself makes one of his keynote appearances: reflected in a glass. A lower profile is in order from now on.

VOCABULARY

abandon - opuszczać
amenity - udogodnienie; urok, czar
auteurist - posiadający własny styl: auteur- reżyser posiadający własny niepowtarzalny styl
barrowload - ładunek taczek, zawartość taczek, taczki pełne (czegoś)
breakthrough - przełom
broker - przeforsować (plan); doprowadzić do zawarcia umowy
chiropractic - kręgarstwo
clank - brzęczeć
clapboard - oszalowanie
conceit - zarozumiałość; koncept
confer - dyskutować; naradzać się
creak - skrzypieć
depute - zlecać; upełnomocniać
despatch - odprawić, szybko załatwić
dwelling - mieszkanie
elders - starsi; starszyzna
flinch - wzdragać się, uchylać się
fling - miotać się; ciskać; rzucać się
fraction - ułamek
gibberingly - bełkotliwie
howl - wyć
intense - intensywny; gwałtowny
keynote - myśl przewodnia
OTT - over the top- przesadny
perimeter - obwód, granica
propitiatory - błagalny, pojednawczy
remote - odległy
resemblance- podobieństwo
reveal - ujawniać, odkrywać
rumoured (something is rumoured) - podobno; wieść niesie, że
sinuous- sinusoidalny; falisty, kręty
soothe - uspokajać; uśmierzać
stab - dźgać, kłuć nożem
stock - akcja, udział, papier wartościowy
suppress - tłumić, zdławić, nie pozwalać
tail - ogon; część końcowa, koniec
transgression - transgresja; przekroczenie
ubiquitous- wszechobecny
venture - odważyć się, zaryzykować
whiplash - rzemyk bicza


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