The Village (2004)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Shooting The Village
Featurette-Editing & Sound
Featurette-Scoring The Village
Featurette-Those We Don't Speak Of
Featurette-M.Night's Home Movie
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (71:10)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||M. Night Shyamalan|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Bryce Dallas Howard
John Christopher Jones
|RPI||$39.95||Music||James Newton Howard|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, photos of the village during closing credits|
The Village is the latest film from Indian-born American director M Night Shyamalan, who shot to fame with his 1999 supernatural thriller Sixth Sense.
The Village is basically the story of a small, isolated community in America's New England area in 1897. These villagers are isolated from the outside world by their fear of the monsters that dwell within the woods that encircle their hamlet. They've lived a quiet, self-sufficient existence until now...when the monsters appear to have entered their village. The film packs quite a good cast, including Joaquin Phoenix, newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of Ron Howard), Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, as well as William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver. They all turn in reasonable performances, though Hurt's performance is somewhat wooden and uncharismatic, perhaps intentionally.
Essentially this is a love story, wrapped up in an often suspenseful, occasionally scary, story of monsters, and things that aren't 'spoken of'. This story doesn't so much have a 'twist' at the end, but an almost gentle ongoing revelation of what some viewers may have cottoned onto from various onscreen events prior to the 'revelation'. Or some might just have guessed! However, in my opinion, this doesn't detract from the film at all. This is far more a love story than a supernatural one, and yet there are enough surprises and 'scary bits' spread out throughout the film. This lack of a real twist in the end is perhaps what disappointed many cinemagoers who wanted/expected Shyamalan to keep delivering supernatural-type films with a surprise ending. In fact, I feel that of all his films to date, it was really only Sixth Sense that delivered a surprise ending of any great note. Neither Unbreakable nor Signs followed that line to any great extent.
The Village is perhaps his 'deepest' film yet, which explores the relationships between a number of people, including a love triangle with tragic consequences. This film had enough depth that I found I actually enjoyed it more the second time around. It is a very dialogue-driven film that does perhaps require a little more attention from the viewer than the average mainstream film. Admittedly, it does have some scenes, especially early on, that are perhaps excitement-challenged. Viewers disappointed with the ending, or feeling that Shyamalan has manipulated them or 'cheated' them somehow, better change their own expectations. Don't pigeonhole him so early in his career and enjoy instead the fruits of his attempts to explore new territory, whilst not departing entirely from his established strengths of exploring the human response to the supernatural.
Shyamalan is a master craftsman who really knows how to build suspense, in the old-fashioned way, as well as make his movie look and sound great. I enjoyed this film more than his last couple and look forward to many more, although admittedly there are also some scenes that do seem to drag on a little.
He seems to like to have a good deal of control over each of his films and not only directs them, but writes and produces them...and even squeezes in a cameo appearance (a la one of his idols, Alfred Hitchcock).
The transfer on this disc is presented in its original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.
The picture is sharp, though not perhaps the sharpest I've seen, despite it being a very recent, and big-budget, release. However I remember thinking this when I saw it on the big screen, so perhaps it was intentional, and no fault of the transfer.
Shadow detail is superlative at all times during the many low-light sequences. Some examples are at 26:40 and 43:50. No detail is lost through under or over exposure.
Grain is ever so slightly visible against the bright sky, such as at 3:35, though it's never really distracting.
There is no apparent low-level noise.
The colour palette in the original film was a wonderful and rich experience. The rich use of colour is something of a trait of Shyamalan's films, and this DVD transfer takes nothing away. The rich hues, especially reds and yellows, are never oversaturated. Occasional scenes, such as 33:30 do exhibit muted colour, but this was probably the Director/Cinematographer's intent.
There was some minor aliasing apparent in panned shots of greenery, such as at 24:40.
There was no obvious edge enhancement.
There were also no signs of positive or negative film artefacts.
Subtitles were available in English, and English for Hearing Impaired. Both tracks were accurate and timed nicely to the onscreen dialogue.
This is a dual layered disc, and the layer change occurs at 71:10. It has been fairly well executed at the end of a scene and resulted in a half-second pause on my player.
On this disk we're treated to both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a DTS 5.1 soundtrack in English. In addition, there is an English Descriptive Audio track in Dolby Digital 2.0.
The sound is, in a word, superb, and effectively envelops the viewer into the movie, as well as building the suspense and giving frights with sudden audio punctuation as required. The Dolby Digital soundtrack gives the impression of being sharper and more 'focused', though with extended listening it's the DTS that presents a more realistic, slightly warmer, tone.
The English Descriptive Audio track is something I'd never previously encountered. It's basically the original audio of the movie to which a narrator's voice has been added. Nicely done, and makes this kind of a 'talking book'.
Dialogue in all audio tracks is clear at all times, and is in sync with the actors' lip movements.
The music is by James Newton Howard, who has scored all of Shyamalan's previous films, as well as many other movies including Stir of Echoes. In The Village, he offers a highly varied soundtrack which ranges from melancholic violin solos, through full orchestrations, to percussive effects. All of these add wonderfully to the on-screen action, whether romance or sheer terror.
The rear surrounds are used effectively and not just because they're there. They are often carrying ambient noises and music, as well as occasional directional effects, especially in the scenes in the woods. The Dolby Digital soundtrack perhaps sounds a little more 'surroundy' (ie..a seemingly more spread-out soundfield) than the DTS, but this is probably due to its bias towards the higher frequencies. The Descriptive Audio track also provides some surround, albeit in Prologic format only.
The subwoofer carries some lovely deep bass, both in effects as well as music which helps add tension and provide scares when necessary, e.g. at 25:25, and 29:31.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are themed beautifully, and simply, in accordance with the film's dark and spooky appearance. The main menu and the Bonus Feature menu are animated and have music from the film in the background. The remaining menus are not animated but do have theme music playing.
A set of rudimentary tests to help viewers set up their video display and audio amplifier.
Featurette - Making Of - Deconstructing The Village
This is actually a collection of 6 short documentaries which can be played independently or by selecting 'Play All'. These are presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen.
They consist of interviews with various cast and crew on topics covering the following:
Overall these are quite interesting and have lots of behind-the-scenes footage. They're long enough to be informative without dragging on too long.
Deleted Scenes (total runtime : 11:04)
These are a collection of fairly lengthy scenes left out of the final cut. Each scene is given an in-depth introduction by the Director. This is a very good inclusion, though it would have been even better had the clips been in letterbox rather than 4:3 fullscreen.
Many of these scenes were understandably left out of the final release, as some would have further dulled some of the already slow moving parts of the film, without adding all that much content. However, one scene in particular would have added some real terror to an already scary sequence set in the woods.
Featurette - Bryce's Diary (runtime 4:59)
Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Ivy Walker, reads extracts from her diary supposedly kept before, during and after the filming of The Village. Scenes from the film, as well as behind-the-scenes footage play out whilst she's reading the extracts. Of some interest as it gives some perspective of how an up-and-coming actress feels during her first major role.
Featurette - M. Night's Home Movie (runtime 3:06)
M. Night Shyamalan introduces one his old 'home' movies which looks as if it was made when he was around 19. I presume he directed, as well as starred in this takeoff of the opening sequence to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Even then you could admire the way he used particular camera techniques as well as the music to build suspense.
Presented in 4:3 fullscreen.
Gallery - Photo - Production Photos
A collection of 38 still photos taken of cast and crew during the filming of The Village. There is the option to advance each photo manually, or using a 'slideshow' in which each image advances after 5 seconds.
The R1 version is available as either a fullscreen (pan and scan), or widescreen version.
The subtitles are in Spanish and French, and the audio is only in Dolby Digital, not DTS.
The extras appear to be the same as on the R4.
Unless you really wanted the fullscreen version (!), or desperately sought subtitles in Spanish or French, the R4 version is clearly the better choice.
Rather than a major 'twist' towards the end of the film, The Village has a few plot surprises along its journey. By no means does this make it a poorer film than Shyamalan's previous works. In fact, I feel this film is superior to Signs with its atrocious ending, and even Unbreakable with its slightly lame storyline. Viewers expecting to be 'shocked' at the end might be disappointed. Those viewing this as a well-constructed film, both technically and plotwise, may enjoy it more.
It has been presented very well on this DVD, with good Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks and good picture quality. The extras bag is surprisingly full, especially considering this is a single disc release, with a fairly long film and a DTS soundtrack included.
Worth a look as it is an artistically made and enjoyable film. It's thrilling and even scary in parts, though just a little dull at times in the first half.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output|
|Display||Sony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Main: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10|