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Shyamalan on my Mind: Review of "The Village"

August 3rd, 2006 | 5 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Although Lady in the Water was roundly panned, I've heard M. Night Shyamalan can make excellent films. I loved Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense, so I watched The Village tonight and plan to watch Signs before the week is out.

Reading George MacDonald proved good preparation for The Village, a tale with mythical elements that are, if nothing else, astoundingly beautiful. Though I know little of the technical elements that make a movie artistically well done, The Village stands out for its gorgeous nature shots, detailed costuming, superb acting and breathtaking score. An amateur like I am couldn't help fall in love with the world Shyamalan created and his creative team brought to life.

Highlighted by the performances by Joaquim Phoenix and William Hurt, the actors make it look easy. They seemed to take the very long shots Shyamalan decided to take in stride - he chose experienced screen actors for this reason, in fact. Further, the actors were able to get into the bodies of their characters. Bryce Dallas Howard, for instance, played the blind Ivy Walker flawlessly, allowing her character's vivacity to overcome her handicap, but allow her blindness to get in the way as we would expect. Phoenix played Lucius as quiet and demur but full of bravery and wisdom.

The score also deserves special note. Shyamalan knows how to bring in talent: James Newton Howard wrote the apt eerie music and selected a world-class violinist. The lilting tones of the violin enhance the beauty and mystery of the town.

The plot is simple but gripping (warning: spoilers):

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Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.