New York City


Dear Readers,

The movie is out!

A few evenings ago, I attended the world premiere of The Village, the latest release from director M. Night Shyamalan. It’s not every day that I get to go to such an impressive event! However, you might recall that I recorded numerous solos for the soundtrack to this film back in June. This was the culmination of that project, my chance to see the whole product: all of the scenes in their proper order, the music balanced to match. It was thrilling; whenever I heard a melody or passage I recognized, I was on the edge of my seat. There are indeed some differences between the soundtrack which was released on CD on July 27, and the soundtrack which one hears in the movie itself. But, all in all, everything remained as I’d played it and my solos came where I expected them, matching the scenes to which I’d recorded them.

That’s not to say that the film was predictable in the least. Going into the premiere, I was well aware of the general plot and the details of each scene which my solos illustrate, as well as the “twist” at the end of the movie. That hardly meant that I knew what to expect in the rest of the scenes! Several details of the plot were new to me and some of the shocking moments caught me off guard – I jumped with the rest of the audience.

Here’s my reaction to the film itself:

In some markets, The Village is billed as a horror/scary movie. That makes sense, for box-office draw, but I think it oversimplifies the film. This is a complex plot, and those who might watch the movie just to be scared or to uncover a clever twist could miss the point. I see it this way: in the course of the movie, nearly every character faces a major decision of some sort, yet each responds differently, true to his or her own personality and motivations. Some decide their own fates, others fall victim to circumstance. Demons lurk around every corner of the characters’ consciousness. To me, this movie represents the unpredictability of life, people’s efforts to gain some semblance of control, their attempts to explain the unknown, and the strength of the human spirit. In a context of fear and dread, limitation, simplicity, and strangeness, this story emphasizes hope, love, and the vulnerability of trust. It’s rare that a PG-13 movie is so suspenseful and expressive. As in all of his films, M. Night Shyamalan creates a unique world, a personal one, based in reality, colored by suspense, but developed through thought – though in this case, the final interpretation is left up to the viewer.

But enough about the movie; I don’t want to give it all away. You should see it yourself, to reach your own conclusions.

Now, for the event – I’m sure you’re curious to know what a major motion picture premiere is like, from an insider’s perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos from the event, since the only cameras allowed were press ones. I hope this description suffices! I arrived at the venue, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, at the assigned time, in a black limo sent by Disney to pick me up. I walked down the beige carpet (they didn’t have a red carpet, because red is “the bad color” in the film) right after actresses Judy Greer and Sigourney Weaver, but right ahead of actor Joaquin Phoenix. I’m not sure who went before or after them; the order was based on who happened to arrive when. Pictures were taken of me and many interviews (both TV and radio) were done – though most of the photographers and reporters had no idea who I was until I was introduced! No matter; it was a riot to play the role of celebrity for a night. After I finished walking the carpet, it was dinner time. The food was served, buffet-style, under a tent filled with long picnic tables and benches. Actors in old-fashioned clothes manned the rotisserie, drinks were doled out in canning jars, and lanterns and a few props from the movie surrounded the tent. Electronic musician Moby passed by on the lookout for vegetarian food, Sigourney Weaver visited with friends, and M. Night and a few vaguely familiar-looking stars surfaced from time to time, but otherwise, the meal was fairly straightforward. I had hoped to meet the major players in the film, since I had worked closely with their material in the course of this project, but oddly enough, aside from the aforementioned actress, none of the actors or actresses was to be found. Maybe they’d gathered elsewhere on the premises for some peace and quiet. Another person I’d hoped to see that evening was composer James Newton Howard, but as it turned out, he had a commitment which kept him from attending. Anyway, I had a wonderful dinner conversation with one of the recording engineers and his wife, and then everyone was called to the theater for the start of The Village.

After a long walk through a wooded area of the park, lit by yellow-caped figures holding lanterns, the nearly 1,000-member crowd entered an outdoor, open-roofed theater. The moon flitted in and out of smoky clouds; stars twinkled through from time to time. The evening was clear with a slight breeze. It was a perfect setting for this movie’s debut. I found myself seated behind actress Julia Stiles, in front of musician/actor Mickey Dolenz (of The Monkees), and to the left of a couple of members of Night’s family. The screening was superb. Even though it took place outdoors, the sound came through crystal-clear. I was really impressed by the film; it shows a world which we don’t glimpse very often in the course of everyday life, and it does so with an enigmatic personal touch which sets this film apart from its peers.

Here endeth my account of the world premiere of The Village, on July 26th, in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York. If you’re interested, check out the movie, but be sure to pick up the soundtrack, too! The score is terrific.

Yours from New York,

Hilary