PG-13 for a scene of violence and frightening
Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt,
Sigourney Weaver, Bryce Howard
WRITER & DIRECTOR:
M. Night Shyamalan
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Lessons from 'The
By Belinda Ayers
- 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
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.
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
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.
from the New International Version.
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