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PHOTOGRAPHY

THE VILLAGE

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 108 minutes, deleted scenes, production photo gallery, featurette, and M. Night's Home Movie.

STUDIO: TOUCHSTONE

RELEASE DATE: 1-11-2004

ANALYSIS: M. Night Shyamalan is the type of director who does movies that appeal to some while leaving others disappointed. THE SIXTH SENSE was good the first time around, but further viewings left me bored as soon as I knew the tricks and twists. UNBREAKABLE was actually a good twist on super hero movies while SIGNS left me disappointed with the way the movie played out. Now I come to THE VILLAGE which I watched with very low expectations. As with previous M. Night movies, some people were left disappointed. Many people were letdown because they wanted it to be like his other movies. I think the advertising campaign may have been partly to blame. I actually liked THE VILLAGE. Except for a bad performance by the actress who play's Ivy's sister and the uneven acting of Bryce Dallas Howard as Ivy, the acting is top notch from experienced actors like William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, and Adrien Brody..

THE VILLAGE takes place in a 19th century town where life is simple. The town folk don't venture out in the woods because they fear the creatures that lurk there. Also red is a forbidden color that is said to attract the creatures and the creatures are known as Those That We Don't Speak Of. A dread and unease pushes forth a fear into the people to not travel into the woods to other towns. One of the town folk, Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix) is a quiet man who wants to go to other towns for medicine because he knows it has to be done. The town elders strike down his requests. He falls for a blind woman, Ivy, who lost her sight as a child. Events happen as skinned animals are found and the creature ventures into the town. THE VILLAGE is an interesting tale about fear, innocence, and love. The score by James Newton Howard and the sound tricks help create an isolated world shot beautifully by Roger Deakins (the Director of Photography).

VIDEO/AUDIO: THE VILLAGE is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The colors and blacks are good. Image detail comes across well.

You can hear THE VILLAGE in English 5.1 or French 5.1 Dolby Digital with the option of French or Spanish subtitles (or English captions). Dialogue is clear and none of the other sound elements (including the music) obscure the words people are saying. Music and special sound effect tricks come across strongly.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

DECONSTRUCTING THE VILLAGE is a series of featurettes that take a look behind the scenes of THE VILLAGE. Each featurette can be played alone or all together. The featurettes have interviews with cast and crew:

Shooting The Village (15:27) goes into how THE VILLAGE came about, show the sets being constructed, a freak blizzard that almost caused the movie to relocate, and the small window they had to shoot some scenes after the rain melted away the snow.

Casting (2:13) tells the story of how the casting of Bryce Dallas Howard determined the casting of the other roles.

Boot Camp (3:32) has the actors talking about the boot camp they went through for to learn how to live the 19th century life.

Editing & Sound (3:28) goes over the editing of the movie and how sound played an important part in THE VILLAGE.

Scoring The Village (2:53) is about the score by James Newton Howard, the 24 year old female violinist used during the music recording sessions, and the director throwing the music out 2/3 the way in to have the music focus on certain emotions.

Those We Don't Speak Of (2:37) shows production art of the creature in the movie and video of an early creature costume that didn't work out as the director hoped.

Included among the extras are 11 minutes of deleted scenes that are introduced by director M. Night Shyamalan and then he tells why each scene was cut from the movie. Out of the five scenes, three are interesting to watch while the Pre-Wedding scenes just don't add anything to the movie at all.

BRYCE'S DIARY (4:50) has entries of Bryce Dallas Howard being spoken by her on her experience on the movie. Her entries come off like she was writing this diary out on the plains in the 19th century.

Rounding out the extras are a segment of a bad home movie Night did as a kid which amounts to a terrible Indiana Jones homage and a PRODUCTION PHOTO GALLERY that has 38 photos taken during the production of the movie showing the production process and candid photos.

FINAL ANALYSIS: THE VILLAGE is a good DVD that is at least worth a rental. Just remember to skip THE BURIED SECRET OF M. NIGHT SHYALAMAN (which is a horrible documentary done in an amateur fashion) that comes out on the same day.

this review is (c)1-13-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia