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The Village (2004 film)


The Village (2004 film)

The Village
Theatrical release poster
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Produced by Sam Mercer
Scott Rudin
M. Night Shyamalan
Written by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring Bryce Dallas Howard
Joaquin Phoenix
Adrien Brody
William Hurt
Sigourney Weaver
Music by James Newton Howard
Hilary Hahn (violinist)
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Edited by Christopher Tellefsen
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • July 26, 2004 (2004-07-26) (premiere)
  • July 30, 2004 (2004-07-30) (United States)
Running time
108 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[1]
Box office $256.7 million[1]

The Village is a 2004 American psychological thriller film, written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver. The film is about a village whose inhabitants live in fear of creatures inhabiting the woods beyond it.

The film received mixed reviews, with critics especially divided about the plausibility and payoff of the ending.[2][3] The film gave composer James Newton Howard his fourth Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Reception 4
    • Plagiarism allegation 4.1
  • Box office 5
  • Home media 6
  • Awards and nominations 7
  • Soundtrack 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


In the small, isolated Pennsylvania village of Covington in the 19th century, the residents live in fear of nameless creatures in the surrounding woods. They have constructed a large barrier of oil lanterns and watch towers that are constantly manned to keep watch for "those we don't speak of". It is explained that the villagers have a long-standing truce with the monsters; the villagers do not go into their woods, and the creatures do not enter their village.

After the funeral of a seven-year-old boy, Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) asks the village elders for permission to pass through the woods to get medical supplies from "the towns". His request is denied, and later his mother, Alice (Sigourney Weaver), admonishes him for wanting to go to the towns, which the villagers describe as "wicked places where wicked people live". The Elders seem to keep dark secrets of their own in black boxes, whose contents they keep hidden from the younger townsfolk, saying only that they are reminders of the evil and tragedy they left behind when they left the towns. After Lucius makes a short venture only a little ways into the woods, the creatures leave warnings around the village in the form of splashes of red paint (referred to by the villagers only as "the bad color") on all the villagers' doors.

Meanwhile, Ivy Elizabeth Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard), the tomboyish and blind daughter of the chief Elder, Edward Walker (William Hurt), informs Lucius that she has strong feelings for him, and he returns her affections. They arrange to be married, but things go horribly wrong when Noah Percy (Adrien Brody), a young man with an apparent developmental and learning disability, stabs Lucius with a knife because he is in love with Ivy himself. Noah is locked in a room until a decision is made about his fate.

Edward goes against the wishes of the other Elders, agreeing to let Ivy pass through the forest and seek out medicine for Lucius. Before she leaves, Edward explains the secret of the creatures: they are a "farce", bogeymen costumes created by the Elders to keep the children from entering the woods in an attempt to keep them from leaving the village. Edward does mention, however, that "those we don't speak of" were based upon legends he had heard at one time, of "real creatures" living in the woods. Ivy seems only partly convinced by this explanation, inquiring whether the skinned animals found in the village the previous night were "also farce".

Ivy and two young men (unaware of the Elders' farce) are sent into the forest, but both protectors abandon Ivy almost immediately, believing the creatures will spare her out of pity, but kill them. While traveling through the forest, one of the beasts suddenly attacks Ivy. She tricks it into falling into a deep hole to its death. The creature is actually Noah in a costume that he had found previously under the floorboards of the room where he had been locked away after the stabbing.

Ivy eventually finds her way to the far edge of the woods, where she encounters a high, ivy-covered wall. After she climbs over the wall, a park ranger named Kevin Lupinski (Charlie Hofheimer), driving a Land Rover with the words "Walker Wildlife Preserve" on the side, spots Ivy and is shocked to hear that she has come out of the woods. He learns that Ivy's last name is Walker. Ivy gives Kevin the list of medicines that she must acquire and asks for help. She also gives him a golden pocketwatch as payment.

During this time, it is revealed that the village was actually founded in the late 1970s, when Edward Walker, professor of American history at the University of Pennsylvania, approached other people he met at a grief counseling clinic after his father had been murdered. He asked them whether they wished to join him in "an idea" he had. From this apparently grew "the village", a secluded town in the middle of a wildlife preserve purchased with Edward's family fortune, a place where they would sustain themselves, and be protected from any aspect of the outside world. The head ranger, Jay (M. Night Shyamalan), mentions to Kevin that the Walker estate pays to maintain the ranger corps. The rangers make sure no one goes into the wildlife preserve to "disturb the animals", and the Walker estate pays the government to keep the entire wildlife preserve a no-fly zone.

Kevin secretly retrieves medicine from his ranger station, and Ivy returns to the village with the supplies, unaware of the truth of the situation. During her absence, the Elders secretly open their black boxes, each containing mementos from their lives in the outside world, including items related to their past traumas. All the Elders are gathered around Lucius' bed when one of the townsfolk informs them that Ivy has returned, and that she killed one of the monsters. Edward points out to Noah's grieving mother that his death will allow them to continue deceiving the rest of the villagers that there are creatures in the woods, and all the Elders take a vote to continue living in the village. Ivy arrives, kneels at Lucius' bedside and, clutching his hand, says "I'm back, Lucius."



The film was originally titled The Woods, but the name was changed because a film directed by Lucky McKee, The Woods (2006), already had that title.[4] Like other Shyamalan productions, this film had high levels of secrecy surrounding it, to protect the expected twist ending that was a known Shyamalan trademark. Despite that, the script was stolen over a year before the film was released, prompting many "pre-reviews" of the film on several Internet film sites[5][6] and much fan speculation about plot details. The village seen in the film was built in its entirety in one field outside Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. An adjacent field contained an on-location temporary sound stage.[7] Production on the film started in October 2003, with delays because some scenes needing fall foliage could not be shot because of a late fall season. Principal photography was wrapped up in mid-December of that year. In April and May 2004, several of the lead actors were called back to the set. Reports noted that this seemed to have something to do with a change to the film's ending,[8][9] and, in fact, the film's final ending differs from the ending in a stolen version of the script that surfaced a year earlier; in the final version, Ivy meets a friendly ranger and a new ending scene was added after that with all the Elders and Ivy around Lucius' bed.[10]


The Village polarized critics. It earned a "rotten" certification at Rotten Tomatoes with only 43% giving it a positive appraisal, based on 206 reviews and an average score of 5.5/10. The consensus reads, "The Village is appropriately creepy, but Shyamalan's signature twist ending disappoints."[3] At Metacritic, the film holds a score of 44 out of 100, based on 40 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[2]

Roger Ebert gave the film one star and wrote: "The Village is a colossal miscalculation, a movie based on a premise that cannot support it, a premise so transparent it would be laughable were the movie not so deadly solemn ... To call the ending an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It was all a dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore." The film is listed on Ebert's "Most Hated" list.[11] There were also comments that the film, while raising questions about conformity in a time of "evil," did little to "confront" those themes.[12] Slate's Michael Agger commented that Shyamalan was continuing in a pattern of making "sealed-off movies that [fall] apart when exposed to outside logic."[13]

The movie did have a number of admirers. Critic Jeffrey Westhoff commented that though the film had its shortcomings, these did not necessarily render it a bad movie, and that "Shyamalan's orchestration of mood and terror is as adroit as ever".[14] Philip Horne of The Daily Telegraph in a later review noted "this exquisitely crafted allegory of American soul-searching seems to have been widely misunderstood".[15]

The soundtrack by Howard has also been widely praised, and was nominated by the American Film Institute as one of the Best Film Scores[16] and the Academy Award for Best Original Score. Finnish musician Tuomas Holopainen has also expressed his love of the soundtrack in interviews, describing it as "the most beautiful soundtrack of all time" from "definitely the most beautiful movie" and explaining that the soundtrack has helped him through personal crises.

Plagiarism allegation

Simon & Schuster, publishers of the 1995 young adults' book Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix, claimed that the film had stolen ideas from the book.[17] The book had a plot which features a village whose inhabitants are secretly forced to live in the 1830s when the year is actually 1996. The plot of Shyamalan's movie had several similarities to the book. They both involve a village, which is actually a park in the present day (Shyamalan uses a late nineteenth-century village), have young heroines on a search for medical supplies, and both have adult leaders bent on keeping the children in their village from discovering the truth. In Haddix's novel, the truth is that the village is a genetic experiment; in the movie, that the adults had decided to withdraw from the outside world.

Box office

The film grossed $114 million in the U.S., and $142 million in international markets. Its worldwide box office totalled $256 million, the tenth highest grossing PG-13 movie of 2004.[1]

Home media

The film was released on VHS and DVD on January 11, 2005. This is currently the only M. Night Shyamalan film that does not have a Blu-ray version. The Village was also the last Shyamalan film to be released on VHS.

Awards and nominations

2005 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards
2004 Academy Awards (Oscars)
2005 10th Empire Awards
2005 Evening Standard British Film Awards
2005 MTV Movie Awards
2005 Motion Picture Sound Editors (Golden Reel Award)
  • Nominated - Best Sound Editing in a Feature: Music, Feature Film — Thomas S. Drescher
2004 Online Film Critics Society Awards
  • Nominated - Best Breakthrough Performance — Bryce Dallas Howard
2005 Teen Choice Awards
  • Nominated - Choice Movie Scary Scene — Bryce Dallas Howard, Ivy Walker waits at the door for Lucius Hunt.
  • Nominated - Choice Movie: Thriller


The Village
Film score by James Newton Howard
Released July 27, 2004
Label Hollywood
James Newton Howard chronology
The Village Collateral
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating

The film's score was composed by James Newton Howard, and feature solo violinist Hilary Hahn. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score (but lost to Finding Neverland).

Track listing
  1. "Noah Visits"
  2. "What Are You Asking Me?"
  3. "The Bad Color"
  4. "Those We Don't Speak Of"
  5. "Will You Help Me?"
  6. "I Cannot See His Color"
  7. "Rituals"
  8. "The Gravel Road"
  9. "Race to Resting Rock"
  10. "The Forbidden Line"
  11. "The Vote"
  12. "It Is Not Real"
  13. "The Shed Not to Be Used"

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "The Village (2004)", Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ a b "Village, The (2004): Reviews".  
  3. ^ a b "Village, The (2004) Movie Reviews".  
  4. ^ "Lycos review of the Village". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  5. ^ "Pre-review of ''The Village''". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  6. ^ "Pre-review of ''The Village'' at". 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  7. ^ "Where exactly was the movie filmed? Did they use historical buildings or did they build everything?" FAQ for The -
  8. ^ "Change to ending of ''The Village''". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  9. ^ "More views of ''The Village'' – aerial". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  10. ^ "The Village Script - Dialogue Transcript". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  11. ^ "Ebert's Most Hated". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  12. ^ "The Reel Deal: ''The Village''". 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  13. ^ Yglesias, Matthew. "Village Idiot". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  14. ^ reviewThe Village's Northwest Herald
  15. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  16. ^ "HollywoodBowlBallot" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  17. ^ "Stolen idea in ''The Village?''". 2004-08-10. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 

External links

  • The Village at the Internet Movie Database
  • The Village at AllMovie
  • The Village at Rotten Tomatoes
  • American Cinematographer Magazine, August 2004. Interview with Roger Deakins on The Village's cinematography.
  • "Disney and Shyamalan in your back yard" - Website by a local resident describing the filming of The Village in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
  • The Village unspecified draft script for The Woods
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