I recently watched a movie by M. Night Shyamalan called The Village. I know the movie came out many years ago; so why am I talking about it now? When it first came out, I thought it was a little too scary for an impressionable young mind like mine; hence my watching it only now. I thought it was truly a work of art. Not in the score, or the costumes, or the sensitive love story, but in the fact that it raised an important question that many have tried to answer. Can innocence be maintained forever? Or is it so fragile that the whim of a jealous heart can kill it with one strike of violence? All right, maybe it’s raised two important questions.
The next few sentences I write may contain some spoilers (for those of you who may want to see the movie first before reading this blog). The premise of the movie was that a group of people in 1800s clothing came to settle in a valley surrounded by woods. These pilgrims have a truce with creatures that reside in the woods: the truce is that the pilgrims do not enter the woods, and the creatures do not enter the valley. Later on in the movie, one finds out that the creatures and truce were just stories to keep the villagers in the valley. Why did the elders of the village do this? Before the settlement existed, those who were the elders used to live in the real world. Yet each of them suffered a loss at the hands of a violent offender. To flee from this wickedness, they left and built a village far away from curious eyes. They did this to preserve innocence, so that no one would ever again have suffer loss violently. A love triangle is introduced in the movie. A blind woman loves a man. Another man who has mental disabilities loves the blind woman. When the mentally disabled man finds out that the blind woman and the other man are engaged, he stabs the other man in a fit of quiet passion.
The people of this village live as if it were the 1800s, that time period that seems to emanate a sense of strong morality, justice, romance, everything that is good. But the pristine picture of this village is shattered when Noah, the jealous man stabs another. Some might argue that innocence still wasn’t broken when he committed a violent act because Noah was not in his right mind, because he loved her. But no, the heinous nature of his act even crossed his mind; he was in remorse the rest of the movie because of what he had done, and because Ivy the blind woman was lost to him. Can there be anything right or good in a violent act against another? No.
In history, there have been many instances where groups of people have created a commune. But all of them failed in different ways because the people could not see the fragility of innocence, the deadliness of our hearts. Whether a small crime or a large one, a crime is a crime. Our hearts are bent upon doing what is wrong. It is so difficult to fight. But good can come when our hearts have been changed, when they have been given new life by the One from which all good flows.
As a writer, it is our duty to write from a perspective that is real, that is true. We must write about human nature, its vices and flaws. But also of the good that can change a person’s life.