Monday, August 12, 2013

Where Is 'The Village'?


Warning: 'The Village' spoilers ahead

M. Night Shyamalan. Never has one name evoked such derision that moviegoers would laugh at the mere flash of it during trailers.

His waterloo can be traced to 2004's The Village, his third movie since the culturally victorious Sixth Sense. By then, theater audiences had established a pattern in his efforts: They would feature a twisty denouement and/or cameo by him, Hitchcock-style. The gimmicks were getting cloying, and critics decided it was time to break the celebrity they had built.

Granted, The Village's twist truly takes one for a fool. But is it any cause to bury the director's career? If anything, there is nothing The Village did that The Twilight Zone hadn't done.

Our supposed source of rancor is supposed to be a secret village called Covington, frozen, as it were, in the 19th century by a ridiculously rich history teacher who owns a wildlife preserve. Brilliant.


'Walker Wildlife Preserve' is actually a field in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The set pieces have been demolished, but The Brandywine was able to snap a photo during filming in 2003:


Chadds Ford is no arbitrary choice for filming. Shyamalan is a fan of Chadds Ford native Andrew Wyeth, whose paintings inspire the aesthetics of The Village. Lucius Hunt's house, for example, is a homage to Wyeth's Open Shed.

Andrew Wyeth's Open Shed (left) and the Hunts' residence (right)

As The Village's screenwriter, Shyamalan, who is a Pennsylvania resident himself, clearly got his muse from a real community in the state. Lancaster County in Pennsylvania hosts one of America's largest Amish countries. Although their motivations are largely religious, the Amish share a common denominator with the Covington villagers, in that they have largely retreated from the convolution of modernity.

Amish schoolchildren at play in Indiana. Photo via Cindy Cornett Seigle

At this rate, only time would redeem The Village from denigration. At least the soundtrack is lovely.



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