EXPLORING A FILM
A conversation by Bruno Fornara on The Village by M. Night Shyamalan, USA 2004
A step back in time to explore the hidden face of nature, of the countryside, of the arcadian peasant world. 19th century, an American village in Pennsylvania surrounded by dense woods. From the woods come noises, voices, howls of beasts (what beasts?). The village elders have made a pact with “the unnameable creatures”: the villagers do not go into the woods, the creatures do not invade the village. The Village by Indian-American director M. Night Shyamalan is immersed in the atmosphere that Freud called das Unheimliche. In English the word is rendered as perturbing. The German word is centred on Heim, hearth, home, that which is familiar to us. The unheimlich is what is unfamiliar to us, disturbing, frightening, foreign. The Village is a film that works precisely on the uncanny, on disorientation. Right from its beginning, right from its location, the village surrounded by the woods, the noises coming from the woods, the fear of the color red, the impossibility of leaving the village. The Village does not see the countryside as a place of serenity and peace. Quite the opposite. It poses the question of the border: whose are we who are inside the border; whose are they who are on the other side of the border; and is there anyone else beyond their territory? (and again: within our border are we safe?…). The Village draws its own geography based on us and them. There are many surprises in the film, precisely about this geography and the inhabitants of the three concentric spaces. An unheimlich film.