Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Village

We finally watched M. Night Shyamalan's The Village. Or, should I say, Margaret Peterson Haddix's The Village, since the film shamelessly pillages her 1995 novel Running out of Time? I hear that makes three questionable stories of Shamalan: many folks thought The Sixth Sense cut too much from Orson Scott Card's The Lost Boys, and he's been sued by some other screenplay writer for ripping off his script in Signs.

Actually, with this movie, we could throw in another unattributed source, since the whole "Those Who Are Not Spoken Of" plot line has been lifted straight from every Scooby-Doo episode ever made. I think Hanna-Barbera should seriously consider their legal options.

Which is sad, because I enjoy Shyamalan's movies. I think, if the stories were credited to their authors, I would not think any less of Shyamalan himself . . . but if he's trying to brand himself as the creative genius who comes up with these stories ex nihilo ("written, produced, and directed by...") then giving credit where it's due might cramp his style.

I enjoyed The Village, on the whole, but there were a number of inconsistencies that bugged me (warning: spoilers follow):
  • So, there's eight or ten elders, who seem to be late-fifties, early sixties . . . and they are supposed to have engendered this entire village? There must have been 75 or 100 people in that community. Even if each pair had eight kids a piece, they couldn't have populated the town inside of one and a half generations. Well, maybe they could, but they must've been mighty busy.
  • Ivy keeps alternating between a stumbling, uncertain blind person and a fleet, bold, unwavering wonder, a feminine Master Po. One moment she's running flat-out in an open field, the next she's stumbling through the woods, thrashing her arms around.
  • Anyone who has kids would have to be skeptical of the behavior of the children in the movie. Like when the families are huddled in their basements while "Those Who Are Not Spoken Of" are pounding on the doors . . . their kids are all doe-eyes and helplessness, but I know if my son Aidan was in a similar circumstance he would be going berserk. And do you really think you could keep the kids from trespassing into the woods? Run this little experiment at home: put out a line of yellow flags, and then tell your five-year-old (or fifteen-year-old) that they are not allowed to cross it. Ready? Go! See what I mean?
  • Noah is just the village-idiot-that-could. He might barely be able to speak, but he can find a costume under the floorboards, surmise its meaning and intent, put it on by himself, escape from the village completely undetected with said large monster-suit, hunt down his true love and attempt to scare the bejezus out of her . . . wow. All that, and he still manages to fall for the old toro-toro routine with the pit.
  • Speaking of Noah's accomplishment, what about that whack-job he does on Lucius? Somehow he managed to bring his rival to the brink of death with a six-inch knife without hitting any major organs . . . leaving him to hang on from "an infection" that a quick hit of penicillin will fix right up. Did he study swordsmanship with that guy from Hero?
  • Most glaringly of all . . . how does a history professor . . . yes, I said history professor . . . come to believe that he will somehow preserve himself and his family from all evil by isolating themselves from the outside world? I mean, if he were a refugee from Williamsberg, I could forgive him his circa-1880 utopian vision . . . but a professor of history should know better. He should know about all the other utopias that have failed. More importantly, he should understand human nature. Jealousy, covetousness, greed, theft, murder, rape . . . all these things predate the invention of money, liquor and firearms.

For all that, the movie's still worth seeing.



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