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Movie Info

RATING:

PG-13 for a scene of violence and frightening situations

STARRING:

Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Bryce Howard

WRITER & DIRECTOR:

M. Night Shyamalan

 

Please Note

In providing movie reviews on our site, CBN.com is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.

MOVIE REVIEW

Lessons from 'The Village'

By Belinda Ayers
CBN.com Producer

CBN.com - On the surface The Village is a well-marketed summer thriller that moviegoers, especially fans of M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs), could hardly wait to watch last weekend. However, many of them left the theater disappointed. The reason, most likely, is because the director's fans have become so accustomed to his suspenseful plot twists that they are carefully watching the film, eagerly searching for the inevitable "surprise" -- and figuring it out much too quickly.

Despite the lack of any monumental "gotcha" plot twists like that of The Sixth Sense, the film has a depth that should not be ignored. Shyamalan has a gift for presenting stimulating themes within the context of an entertaining story. The Village is no different.

Set in rural Pennsylvania, the 1897 village of Covington is surrounded by woods that the townspeople believe are inhabited by dangerous creatures. For years the villagers and the creatures have peacefully coexisted on the condition that the townspeople do not enter the woods. However, when villager Lucius Hunt requests permission to journey through the woods to the nearby towns to get medicine for his friend, it seems that the peaceful truce with the inhabitants of the woods has ended.

While some Christians may shun the film citing its suggested violence and eeriness, it would be a mistake to do so. The movie is full of material that could be an intriguing discussion starter for keen Christians looking for ways to bridge the gap between the truths of the Bible and a secular culture.

Spoiler Warning: The following discussion of the film's themes could spoil the plot if you haven't already seen the movie.

Underneath the film's creepy exterior is an engaging love story. Ivy, a blind young woman, demonstrates sacrificial love when she requests permission to journey through the dangerous woods to the nearby towns for medicine that could save the life of the man she loves.

Ivy's dedication to her fiancé pushes her to travel through the woods despite her fears and her physical disabilities. Although her journey is at times rather implausible, the film paints a beautiful picture of love and self-sacrifice. For Christians this type of love calls to mind the love we receive from our Heavenly Father and the huge sacrifice Christ made because of His love for us.

Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) in 'The Village'Sharing this love with others often means stepping beyond areas where we are comfortable. Just as the creatures of the woods -- known to the villagers as "those we don't speak of" -- created a constant fear in the townspeople, many Christians also face fears that we don't speak of. Whether it is a fear of rejection, feelings of inadequacy or thoughts of failure, many Christians encounter frightening obstacles when we try to share our faith. While the people of Covington had no source of protection from their fears, Christ has assured us that He has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). We must seek strength from the Holy Spirit to overcome the obstacles that keep us from sharing Christ's love with others.

The Village also reveals the danger of isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. In an effort to control their own destiny, the villagers cut themselves off from the nearby towns. They believed that living as a community cut off from the outside world would enable them to better protect their chosen way of life. However, it was this isolation that prevented them from receiving the help they needed.

Unfortunately, we too sometimes try to maintain our way of life and escape the world's influences by isolating ourselves within our churches and Christian communities. Just as the villagers had no way to receive help from the nearby towns, our neighbors have no one to tell them of Christ's love and redemption if we separate ourselves from them. It is only by building relationships with others that will we be able to tell people about Christ's love and His desire to change their lives. The Bible shows us that Jesus demonstrated this principle throughout His ministry by seeking out the undesirable and hurting people of society.

When the Pharisees questioned Christ about dining with tax collectors and sinners, "Jesus answered them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance'" (Luke 5:31-32).

We can't reach out to people unless we go where they are. While we don't want to be influenced by the world, we do want to be in the midst of it offering the hope we've found in Christ.

Perhaps what is most vividly portrayed in The Village is man's fallen nature and the hopelessness that stems from it. From the opening shot of a mourner at a grave to the last scene just before the credits roll there is a subtle sadness that permeates this film. Characters make reference to the loved ones they have lost, and several of them also reference a locked black box that contains what one character describes as "evil things from my past."

Another character laments that, "you can't run from pain and sorrow, because it will follow you."

As Christ promised, "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33). Fortunately, what we as Christians know to be true, and what the characters in the movie sadly miss, is the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. And while we won't escape pain and suffering in our lives on earth, we look forward to Heaven where those things will no longer exist.

This is knowledge from which the characters of The Village -- and a hurting world around us -- could benefit.

Scriptures are from the New International Version.

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