Directed by M. Knight Shamalamalamalammlamadingdong.
I remember seeing this film in theaters, and being really intrigued by the plot. And then, like the rest of the world, I was floored by the ending. I don’t, however, remember all that much about the film itself. This film (as well as its aforementioned director) is the subject of so much satire on various shows such as Family Guy, the “Scary Movie” series, and all over Reddit, that I’m not sure if the things I do remember are from the film itself or from some outlet making fun of it. I’m going to go shut all the lights of and try to watch it from a new perspective.
Alright, plot synopsis for the unenlightened. The film starts out setting the scene of a group of people who seem to live sort of like pilgrims in a very rudimentary society, eating outside, performing burial rituals, and wearing funny hats. You learn early on that these people have been taught to fear “Those of which we do not speak”, who are apparently some terrifying creatures that live in the woods, which are forbidden. After an unfortunate series of events involving a mentally handicapped man stabbing Joaquin Phoenix out of jealousy, a blind tom-boy named Ivy asks the elders for permission to cross through the forbidden woods to get him medicine for his seriously janky looking infection. Before Ivy leaves, her father, who is chief elder, confesses the creatures were a farce created to keep the townspeople from making their way through the forest. With this new knowledge, Ivy ventures through the forest, and when she reaches the edge…boom, it’s modern society. (There’s that famous Shamalama plot twist.) Turns out the chief elder was an American History professor who had an outlook to create a utopia in which they “preserved innocence” by remaining in a society without the vices of money and greed. Ivy, sworn to secrecy, returns to the village with the medicine for her lover Phoenix, and the elders agree to continue business as usual.
Personally, I think this is one of those films that the concept is much more fascinating than the film itself. The idea of a society within a society where the people believe that their slice of the world is all there is…that in and of itself holds many a metaphor. The “elders” who know of the outside and are tasked with molding the minds of the impressionable youth to believe their story..I could run with this about government and the media influencing the masses, but if you want to hear me rant about that, you can read my thesis.
The long and the short of it is, while I feel this film is full of ideas that could spark much discussion, the portrayal moved a bit slow (about an hour and 45), and at times it was a bit hard to take seriously. I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it who has the time and is in the mood for a thinker, but honestly I’m sure there aren’t a whole lot of people out there who don’t know the ending thanks to all the parody. That being said, it was still a good watch!