Movie Musings: Thoughts on Ivy Walker’s journey from M Night Shyamalan’s The Village
A few weeks ago, I put into words some of my thoughts in regards to M Night Shyamalan’s The Village, the story of a small village surrounded by dense woods in which creatures dwelled…or did they?
The release of the film was met by dissension on many fronts, from film critics and casual movie-goers alike. Though it did make over $114 million in domestic ticket sales in the Summer of 2004, many were off-put by a marketing campaign that seemed to promise PG-13 scares…and instead, put its audience into a period-drama (something the majority of horror fans are not willing to forgive so easily).
Many times, there are a number of films that will just stick in my head and make me question long after the film is over. While many could easily dismiss the film as, “A stupid Shyamalan film with a stupid twist ending,” I was moreso intrigued by a lot of the underpinnings of the story. There are some elements to the story that did make the gears in my head start turning, and others that some found to have simple endings to, may not have been such.
This led me to thinking about Ivy Walker’s journey through the film. It is in the third act of the film that her character really takes a leap of faith, and experiences things that I had never seen anyone really put down into a blog post…until now. Let’s just say like many things, if I don’t see someone else talk about it, I’ll bring it up.
In the film, Ivy Walker (portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard) is our main protagonist. Stricken blind since she was very young, Ivy manages to find a way to have lived with her shortcomings, without letting them hinder her. In one conversation to Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), she explains that certain people have a “color” that she can sense/see. She can sense it in her father, as well as in Lucius.
It is also shown that she is willing to do what she can to affirm or comfort those around her, or support them in their time of need. However, she doesn’t stray away from wanting to be “practical” at times.
After his proposal to go into “The Town” to seek possible medicines for those in the village, Ivy has a small talk with Lucius Hunt about what he was proposing. Lucius’ proposal is not out of selfishness or attempts to escape from his home, but an attempt to do good…yet almost all the talk of his good intentions meet with roadblocks, by the Elders of the village, and even Ivy.
While she does say his intentions seem noble, she feels there really is no need. Lucius begins to counter her argument, telling how there possibly could have been medicines or people in “The Towns” when she was younger that could have saved her sight, or can now possibly help the somewhat erratic Noah Percy (Adrian Brody), who seems addled in his mind.
Ivy simply claims that she has grown to accept her loss of sight, but wishes him to stop their conversation, as it is upsetting her.
Both Ivy and Lucius have been somewhat inseparable since they were younger, with Lucius taking on somewhat of a guardian role to her after she lost her sight. Both harbor feelings for the other, but it is only under current circumstances do they finally give in and explain what they feel for each other.
One of the first signs for us is when the creatures in the woods invade the town. Ivy refuses to hide with her sister, confident that Lucius will come and make sure they are safe. Her feelings are proven right when Lucius manages to pull her into her house before one of the creatures almost reaches for her.
In the aftermath of this event, red marks are found on the doors of all of the houses. Ivy’s father Edward Walker (William Hurt) claims that he feels their actions were not of malice, but that it was a sign that they felt threatened. It is after this event, that Lucius comes forward, claiming that he feels he is responsible for the attack, as he had wandered a ways into the forest past the safety areas. After these events, Lucius then stops his proposals to leave…and instead, redirects a proposal onto Ivy in an indirect way, when they discuss what has happened, and confess their feelings for each other.
The village then has to deal with its first murder, when Noah Percy stabs Lucius, most likely out of some form of unexplained jealousy that Ivy and Lucius are to be wed. Ivy is the first one to find Lucius’ body, but it is unmoving, and she cannot see his “color.”
All the medical supplies the village has cannot possibly save Lucius, and it is in a quiet moment with her father, that Ivy proposes to go to “The Towns,” in hopes to find medicines that can save him. It is a turn-around from the Ivy Walker who before seemed willing to just let things happen as they fell (her blindness, Noah’s addled mentality), but now that tragedy has struck close to her, she is willing to propose and do what Lucius had thought just days before.
Edward goes against the rules of the village, and gives Ivy his consent to go, but not before he reveals that the creatures and the drills the town goes through, are all ‘farce,’ intents to keep the villages from going to “The Towns.” Edward does tell Ivy that “there did exist rumor of creatures in the woods,” information he gleaned in a history book he once read.
Ivy is then given a pocket watch for payment methods, as well as a sheet with medical information on it. She is then assigned two guides, to go with her: her sister’s husband, Christop (Fran Kranz), and another man named Finton (Michael Pitt).
The group does not get far when Christop cannot bring himself to go beyond the borders of the village. Ivy then produces a bag of rocks, that she claims will protect them, but Christop refuses, wondering why he’s never heard of these rocks before. Ivy then attempts to tell him it is safe, but Christop worriedly asks that if this is so, why do they wear their yellow cloaks, the “safe” color? In the end, he does not go with them.
Ivy and Finton make their way into the woods before setting up camp as night and a rain settles in. The next day, Finton is unable to go further. After apologizing to Ivy and leaving back for the village, she gets rid of the bag of rocks, and continues on her journey.
She almost ends up falling into a pit, just barely clinging to the edge. After climbing out, she panics when she realizes that her cloak is covered up. Remembering how her father said that there “did exist rumor of creatures in the woods,” her conditioned mind immediately gets her to start trying to remove the mud from the yellow-colored robe.
After some time, Ivy’s walking stick finally breaks, but as she snaps the stick, she can hear snapping branches nearby. It isn’t long before she senses a presence, and hears a growling sound. We see what Ivy cannot: it appears to look like the red-cloaked figures we saw earlier.
Ivy tells herself that “it is not real,” but the thing growls and lunges at her! She frantically begins to run, unsure where she is going, until she finds a log near the pit she almost fell into. She then positions herself near the pit, and when the creature lunges for her, she shifts aside, and it falls in.
We soon find out that the creature was Noah in disguise using one of the Elder’s costumes. However, the fall has injured him and he soon stops moving. Of course, Ivy has no idea it is Noah, and since he doesn’t have a “color” she can see, she simply assumes it was one of the “rumored creatures” of the woods. Once it sounds like it has stopped moving, Ivy picks up a large branch, and uses it as a new walking stick, as she continues on her quest.
After the encounter, Shyamalan had intended to include a scene that was eventually cut from the film. Commentary about this scene mentions that it was cut because it slowed the pace of the story, but I think it would have helped strengthen the thought of how Ivy now was willing to believe that there were creatures in the woods.
As she continues on, Ivy suddenly hears numerous howling sounds around her in the wind…which turn out to be windpipes hung in the trees by the Elders, to simulate the creature’s sounds. The multitude of sound almost makes it like the creatures are upset at her for killing one of their own. In her defense, Ivy cries out into the air: “It is for love that I am here! I beg you, to let me pass! It is for love!”
It is then that the wind dies down, and the pipes cease their wailing, leading Ivy to believe that the creatures have retreated.
Eventually, Ivy finds a path, and follows it, which leads her to a large wall. Climbing over it, she then finds herself on the outside of the Walker Forest Preserve, wherein is housed the village.
A patrolman for the preserve named Kevin stops Ivy, and he questions her. Thinking he is from “The Towns,” Ivy’s talking to him is one of timidity, as she asks him for help to get the medicines she needs. However, as Kevin continues to talk to her, she explains that she can hear within his voice “kindness,” something she did not expect from people in “The Towns.”
Kevin retrieves the medicines that Ivy needs, and using a ladder from a nearby guard station, helps her back into the preserve.
Ivy then manages to return to the village without any complications. Upon arriving, she tells the others about the creature she encountered, before bringing the medicines to Lucius’ bedside, ending her journey (and ours, as the film draws to a close).
One thing I heard from a lot of people was that what Ivy learned from her father, was enough for her to just blow the whole cover on what the Elders in the village are doing, but I still am of the belief that Ivy will find some way to keep up the farce (and possibly bring Lucius into the game as well, if he does survive).
Edward Walker told Ivy that all these things were to protect the village, and in a sense, to keep them safe. Ivy is not a vindictive person, and one has to assume she still holds some level of respect for her father.
One interesting thing kept out of the film from the original script, is right when Ivy, Christop, and Finton begin their journey. One line in the script, had Ivy mentioning that her escorts have also been told of the “farce.” It seems that Shyamalan excised this from the story, to moreso show how Ivy has still intended to keep that part of the lie a secret.
Some have also questioned just why Edward would send his blind daughter on this quest. One has to assume that he figured without her sight, she would still remain ‘pure’ to the outside world. While her ears would probably experience many different sounds, he figured if anything, she would not be able to discern the strangeness of the world outside of the village, and the woods.
It may also be the possibility, that he may have harbored some thought that she might not make it back. After all, her guides eventually turned tail and ran back to the village out of fear. In a rather morbid way, maybe the father was willing to sacrifice his daughter’s life, rather than have her live a life of heartache if Lucius died.
Though her father has told her about the “farce,” it is shown that Ivy herself still can’t just shake the fears that have been part of her life since she was little. It’s like telling someone, “there’s nothing in the dark.” It’s one thing to tell it to them…but they have to eventually believe it themselves.
We see her panic when she finds her cloak is covered in mud, covering up the color that is said to be “the good color.” The other moment comes when she encounters Noah in the costume. Ivy surely realizes that noone else from the village would be out this far, so her mind makes the only logical thought: this is one of the “rumored creatures” her father told her about! If that wasn’t enough to frighten her, the fact that it growls and lunges at her, is more than enough to make her believe.
When she returns to the village, I always felt that this would be the last time she would ever attempt to leave it. There was no other purpose for her to leave other than to save Lucius. To Ivy’s thinking, there are still creatures in those woods, and though she did meet someone from “The Towns” who helped her, whose to say the next person may not be the kind of horrible people the elders say live in those places, and took the lives of their loved ones?
In the beginning, it is shown that Lucius Hunt was a young man who possessed great courage, but ultimately chose to simply quell his desires for the betterment of the village. Ivy Walker is a young woman who though caring for others, was able to pull herself together to save someone she loved. And in the end, that now is all she seems willing to live for. Not truth, not lies: love.
*Several of the things I’ve talked about regarding the original script from The Village, I gleaned from a site called Horror Lair. If you’d like to read the original script, just follow the link: The Village (Script with Original Ending) *