The Village

The Village ★★★★½

Settler history as it was written, as it's taught, and as it's constantly enacted, an assertion and reassertion of violence that in its routine circularity takes on the quality of a quiet hallucination; the village remains pristine, the settler, drenched in blood, perversely, natural, everything else cast to the realm of the supernatural. Never mind the fate of these ghosts that don't even realise they're out of time, they've got borders to protect themselves from the others. That is the grimmest thing about The Village as it first plays out, before the second border is drawn, is that the indigenous bodies are already erased, a fairytale about a people neither dead nor alive who a long long time ago agreed not to intrude. The idea that dissent will only come about by accident and from within (during the everyday maintenance of settler-colonial history), is at tension with Shyamalan's encouragement that the young and brave be the ones to destroy it, but there is something powerful about the idea that it will inevitably self-destruct any way. Something like The Witch imagined this within a single God-fearing family, but The Village pushes it as far as the audience is willing to take it, from a village to history to 'civilisation' in general. And this is not to mention the film's emotions which strike with such clarity that the viewer at the start can't help but lose their balance. It's not the 'it was all a dream' punchline I thought it was first time, nor is it the conceptual bummer I found after that. The stage sets may collapse, but once we're over the initial have that that represents, it's all eerier, angrier, and more emotionally knotted than anything else of its kind.

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