On this episode of Finding Christ in Cinema, we go through the forbidden Covington Woods and look for Christian themes in M. Night Shyamalan’s THE VILLAGE. Are the Elders trying to suppress the truth from everybody else? Is there no greater love than that between Lucius and Ivy? All that and more in 3…2…1!
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not yet seen THE VILLAGE and do not want us to spoil it for you, please watch it before continuing listening to the podcast and reading this post.
Caught up now? Good.
The Elders of the Village and Suppressing the Truth
In wanting to save themselves and their children from the blood-spilling, heartache and sorrow of the world, a group of people set forth to establish a Utopian society (like the 19th Century American Utopian societies) in which they are insulated from the world’s atrocities. Literally, acres of woods surround the small plot of cleared land in which our titular community thrives. These woods serve not only as a boundary for those people within but also as protection from those monsters without. Red-cloaked creatures with spiny bones protruding from their backs and long, sharp claws emerging from their hands are what haunt the people who live in this safe haven. A truce has been made between the humans and the monsters so that everyone (and everything) can live peacefully.
It almost seems too fantastic to believe until it is revealed that these monsters and all the pomp and circumstance that surround them are nothing but made up from the imaginations from the Elders of the community (the same people that established the village in the first place). The Elders use these farcical monsters as scare tactics so as to keep the rest of the townsfolk in fearful reluctance should anyone ever feel the need to leave the commune. This could have gone forever unbothered had not a fearless man named Lucius Hunt stepped up to the Elders and requested permission to venture into the woods with the hope of finding medicine that could help heal the sick and diseased (having already lost a good friend). As the story goes, however, it is then Lucius’ love interest Ivy Walker that desires to brave the forest in order to find medicine for the fatally-wounded Lucius. While fate would have it to keep Lucius at bay, Ivy was resolved to break the barrier and save her beloved no matter what it meant to her.
Here’s the complication: the Elders believe they are acting out of love. It’s a very peculiar love, though. Within their circle, all these heinous actions and grotesque lies are all serving the greater good by keeping the families of the village safe. On the outside, however, it looks suspiciously like what Paul would describe as “wicked people who suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). Thankfully, though, this chain is broken when Edward Walker confides in his daughter Ivy the whole truth. She is then filled with such a boldness that enables her to go out into the monstrous woods that really aren’t so bad after all.
It reminds us of Jesus’s own confiding with his disciples while in the Upper Room (a favorite scene of ours here at FCC). He breaks it down for them like this:
I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (John 15:15)
Just as Edward confided in Ivy the truth of the woods, the towns, and everything within and between them, Jesus confided in his disciples in the Upper Room and still confides in us today the truth of the kingdom of God. And most importantly, just as that confidence filled Ivy with the courage she needed to brave the woods in order to fulfill her mission, so is that same confidence instilled within us by the Holy Spirit so as to encourage us to fulfill the Great Commission.
Lucius and Ivy Moved By Love…No Greater Love
The misguided love that the Elders have for the people of the village isn’t the only kind of love we see in the film. The greatest love of The Village actually exists within and between the characters Lucius and Ivy (as lightly aforementioned). Separately, the two stand out as beacons of love through their servitude to the community: Lucius through his compassion for August Nicholson after the death of his son Daniel, and Ivy through her caring of Noah Percy, the neighborhood’s mentally challenged son. But together, they bear witness to love much greater than that of the communal nature; they indeed exemplify the self-sacrificial love that Jesus himself demonstrated for us on the cross.
Once Lucius has been mortally wounded and is lying on his deathbed, Ivy takes it upon herself to cross the woods to get to the towns and find the medicine that can save him. Even if she has the advantage of knowing the monsters aren’t real, she is still fearful of what she can’t see (I mentioned she was blind, right?). That fear does not matter, however, because she is filled not only with her father’s confidence but also with a powerful love for Lucius.
It completely echoes Jesus in the Upper Room once again:
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13)
Because Ivy loves Lucius with such veracity, she is willing to take on death in order to save his life. She is willing to embrace whatever the outside world can throw at her if it means Lucius can live long enough to be fully restored back to optimal health. This mirrors the type of love God has for us all. And knowing that should fill us all from the crown to the toe top-full of a boldness that could move our world, shake our world, and even turn our world upside down.
Reel News and Other Links
- And the Award Goes To: The Winners of the 2015 Oscars
- Steven Spielberg May Direct Indiana Jones Reboot
- Foxcatcher, The Captive, and The Better Angels This Week in Home Entertainment
- Family Life Today: Bella with Producer Leo Severino and Actor Eduardo Verastegui
- Amazon Prime’s Ernest and Celestine
Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.
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