Film vs. Book: Shyamalan’s “The Village” & Haddix’s “Running Out of Time”


The Village is a 2004 film directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense (1999) and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt and Bryce Dallas Howard. The film tells of a 19th century village, whose inhabitants live in a constant fear of some creatures that start terrorising the village population. One of the protagonists of the film is a blind girl named Ivy. Although the movie is not as bad as critics claim and its soundtrack is absolutely beautiful, it still faults as to its plot developments and has a distracting line of stars involvedRunning Out of Time is a popular 1996 book by Margaret Peterson Haddix for young adults about a girl (Jessie) in a 19th century village who is sent on a mission to town to look for medicine to cure a diphtheria epidemic in her village.

Even though the stories of The Village and Running Out of Time appear different on the first glance, there are considerable similarities between the two. The ways in which the book and the film are similar speak volumes when one considers the most important things of both: Running Out of Time’s narrative and The Village’s final plot twist.



People live in a “make-believe” 19th century rural village when outside it is, in fact, the 20th century: In both The Village and Running Out of Time, people initially agreed to a kind of a “social experiment” to live in a 19th century rural setting, while, outside of their village setting, it is, in fact, the 20th century.

The peculiarities of the village:

Both villages in the book and in the film are constructed as “natural reserves”, whereby it is the 19th century setting on the inside and the usual modern life going on outside of the reserve. 

Both villages have special rules/”scare-tales” forbidding the villagers from leaving the compounds. In the film, it is “those we do not speak of”, some monsters, which could strike at random. In the book, it is the “haunted trees” that scare children and, thus, they are afraid to trespass the boundaries. Neither of these things turn out to be true, as “haunted trees” in the book are just cameras/other modern equipment installed to spy on the village population, and the so-called “those we do not speak of” are just costumes some villagers wear to scary other population and not have them wandering off too far.

In both Running Out of Time and in The Village, the guards of the compounds are patrolling the perimeters of the boundaries constantly (making sure that the borders are secure), and there are cameras installed across the perimeter. The villagers also have “special (do-not-disturb) arrangementswith the outside world. 

In the book and in the film, the village people are presented as possessing little “modern” knowledge, they are “backward-looking”, religious people who have an aversion of a town. A town is seen in their eyes as where “wicked people” live.

A vulnerable girl is sent out to seek vital medicine and bring it back home to cure her loved one(s) who became sick: Jessie in Running Out of Time and Ivy in The Village are sent out by their mother/father outside the compounds of the village because people/person who is the dearest to a girl suffers badly and need(s) medical attention – some medicine which can be found only outside the boundaries of the village. In that vein, Jessie is sent out to seek medical help to save her school friends from diphtheria, and Ivy makes her journey to find medicine to help her fiancée who is badly injured due to a knife stabbing.

Interestingly, in both the film and book, the name of the medicine needed is written on a piece of paper, and both Jessie and Ivy carry this note to show to people so they know what medicine is needed (Jessie is too young to understand/differentiate the medicine and Ivy is blind and incapable of doing so).

The peculiarities of the girl:

Both Ivy (The Village) and Jessie (Running Out of Time) are “vulnerable” and are initially afraid to venture outside their village boundaries. Jessie is vulnerable because she is still a child, being only 13, and is sent out from her home all alone to a mysterious town for medical supplies. Ivy is vulnerable because she is blind and may not find her way out/in or fall victim to some creature/monster.

Both Ivy and Jessie do not initially know that it is actually 20th century outside of their village compound and are shocked to discover the truth. Both girls are told of the “secret” and are sent out on a mission by their closest relatives. It is Ivy’s father who finally reveals to Ivy what is going on beyond the village’s borders, giving his blessing for Ivy to go on a journey. Similarly, it is Jessie’s mother who equips Jessie for her dangerous journey ahead, and finally revels to her that, in fact, it is the 20th century outside of their village.

Both Ivy and Jessie associate themselves with boys and their boyish behaviour. Ivy in The Village is surrounded by her two male friends, and is praised for “running like a boy”. Similarly, Jessie in Running Out of Time is described as a tomboy.

The girl receives external help from an unknown male to fetch the medicine: in both the book and the film, Ivy/Jessie receives help from a male stranger to bring the medicine home/cure their beloved. Ivy is believed by a lone ranger who patrols the borders of her compound, and Jessie is helped by a cameraman/journalist. Both presumably save people/person they love as a result.

In both the movie and book, there is actually a child death documented, and one person volunteers to go outside of the village boundaries to fetch the necessary medicine unavailable in the village. In the beginning of The Village, there is a scene where the funeral of a young child is depicted, and there is actually a scene in the movie where the character of Joaquin Phoenix volunteers to go to town to fetch the necessary medicine for the community. In Running Out of Time, the sole purpose of Jessie’s journey to town was to find medicine to prevent the dying of children from the contagious disease.

There may not be many similarities, but because the above similarities play such an important role both in the film and in the book, it is not their number, but their quality/substance, which is important. On that basis, the claim of plagiarism becomes substantial. Even though the publishers of Running Out of Time considered pursuing a plagiarism action in court against M. Night Shyamalan, as far as I know, such action is yet to materialise.


13 Comments Add yours

  1. Never heard of the book, but I was one of the rare ones who enjoyed the film. Interesting post, DB.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      Thanks! My expectations were very low regarding the film, but I think it is not bad at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating post and Shyamalan must have been influenced by the book in some way because the similarities are very clear.

    Having said that I think the film is actually very well done with a fine cast, great cinematography and colour design. There are also some genuine scares and suspense in there too so the director deserves credit for that.

    The end “twist” asks for a huge suspension of disbelief that the area would be a ‘no plane’ zone and also the park staff would be SO helpful. The rapid delivery of exposition kind of explained it but it wasn’t convincing. But that wasn’t the point I guess because it was about people desiring to escape the modern world due to the violence and horror they had suffered. Ironically, they then used fear themselves to “trap” the young villagers through folk stories and threat of monsters.

    Great article. Great film. And it sounds like and excellent book too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      Thank you very much. Prior to watching the film I read so many reviews saying how this movie is so bad and disappointing especially regarding the twist ending, but because I already knew the twist ending before watching the film, I really liked the film. I think that’s the trick. I prepared myself for something much much worse. You are right, the twist ending asks a lot from the audience, but at least no one can say they were expecting it. Btw, I recommend reading the book. It is designed for a young reader, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.


      1. I think it’s an excellent film and I will certainly check out the book at some point. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great comparison of the book and the film. It looks like M. Night didn’t write a totally original story.

    One minor point–Unless I missed something, I don’t think the people in The Village are Christians. They simply wanted to return to a simpler style of living.

    The Village would have been better if Edward hadn’t taken Ivy to the shed and revealed that the monster was a fake. I don’t think that reveal was plotted correctly.

    I love Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance.


    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      Thanks, and sorry for the late reply. Looking back now I agree that the point where the monster is revealed as fake could either have been done better or omitted altogether, just to keep the suspense going, and yes, Howard’s performance was good, my only complaint is that, as I remember it, sometimes she acted and looked as though her character was not blind at all. Very telling, intentional maybe, I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ospreyshire says:

    Wow, I’ve been learning more about film plagiarism controversies thanks to you. I haven’t seen The Village even though I know what it’s about. The similarities are certainly eerie and it makes one wonder if Shyamalan read the book to begin with. Thank you so much for posting about this since I would’ve never guessed.

    Also, thanks for checking out some of my reviews and for following my main blog. Coincidentally enough, I posted an article about one of my songs that’s about an actual music plagiairism court case associated with THAT movie which has an insane amount of thievery in different areas today. Sing this with me: It’s a lawsuit, a mighty lawsuit…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      I am glad someone else is so interested in these issues 🙂 I really think we should care about these things and not just be indifferent.

      Yes, I did not make a comment on your post “Ospreyshire Origins: Pugnam Contra Fures Leonis” because for some reason your site “Ospreyshire’s Realm” does not appear in the WordPress reader (even though I tried searching using your tags) and I can only comment through the Reader because I am using another account (it does not let me leave a comment as DBMoviesBlog). This article of yours is really great and eye-opening. I definitely need to see the Netflix documentary The Lion’s Share. This case is really shocking and it is so sad that few people realise the true origins of the songs and how they were not even credited. This is Disney’s disgrace.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ospreyshire says:

        That’s right. While there are certainly other big issues on this planet, I have very strong feelings because I’ve upheld originality and uniqueness for a long time while also acknowledging what came before. As an author, I’ve made several original stories and I have one adaptation of a French fairy tale where I credit the original author despite it already being in the public domain.

        Thanks for checking out that post! It was really fun writing and recording that song as well as doing the research ever since watching The Lion’s Share. That’s weird how my Ospreyshire blog didn’t show up in the Reader. Huh. I’m glad you enjoyed the article and I hope you watch that documentary. That was a very eye-opening watching seeing the origins of the song, hearing the testimonies of Solomon Linda’s daughters, and following the court case. It really is shocking to say the least because I used to like that song. For some reason, I thought it was based on a traditional song, but it ended up being actual musical thievery. Even the “wimoweh” parts of the song are actually gibberish that sounds like Zulu just so the singers could try and pronounce it. There’s a scene in The Lion’s Share where the sisters are laughing at “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” because of how wrong the pronunciation was and how the main vocal line translates to “You are a lion” in Zulu. It really is a disgrace, and I’m glad you can empathize. I have two other posts to finish up the Pugnam Contra Fures Leonis trilogy of songs. The next one involves a diva of sorts.

        Liked by 1 person

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