This blog is a place for Me to review classic British films (in particular horror films) by Hammer, Amicus and the like. But I will occasionally branch out and review international films as these are the international counterpart to the British films, some of which will include works by American International Pictures, Mario Bava et al. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Don't Look Now


After the death of their daughter Christine, John and Laura move to Venice where John is helping to reconstruct an old church. Whilst there Laura meets two old women, one of which claims to be psychic and tells Laura not to be sad about Christine because she's happy. This causes Laura to feel immensely better, the best she's felt since before her daughter died. So she keeps talking to them and wants to contact Christine. All the while John is sceptical and refuses to be part of it. The psychic woman claims that Christine is warning them of danger that lies ahead. John begins to see a figure wearing a red trench coat the same as that of which Christine was wearing when she drown. But who is it? Could it really be their daughter back from the grave...and in Venice?

Don't Look Now is a 1973 Casey Productions and Eldorado Films production. It stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. It was directed by Nicolas Roeg.

That was weird. John was looking at a photograph of the church he's going to be reconstructing, not only did he notice someone sitting there (you can only see the person from behind) who looks remarkably like his daughter. But then he spilt a drink (some wine I think) on the photo which at first was a small splodge on the person's head but then it spread more and more like blood right across the photo. As it spread John suddenly got up and ran outside, almost as if he knew his daughter was in danger. To which he was right, she had drown in the pond.

The old crow's got something! Now in Italy, Laura has got talking to two old sisters, one of whom is blind and claims to be psychic. She tells Laura that her daughter is happy, but most shocking of all is that she is able to describe what she looked like and what she was wearing when she died. So this confirms to Laura that she is telling the truth. This being the beginning of their beautiful friendship, well, the beginning of Laura hanging out with them as it gives her comfort knowing more about Christine being happy now she's dead. They have some interesting things to say though, the psychic one even at one point suggests that maybe John is psychic because he knew something was wrong just from looking at the photograph, he appeared to sense Christine was in danger.

GOD DAMN IT, JOHN! That's what you get when you choose to parade around nude. After getting showered John decides to continue with his painting IN THE NUDE! There's no reason for it, he could easily have got dressed and done some painting but no he chose to be in the nip. Resulting in the cleaning lady walking in on him sat nude at his desk.

Inevitably, I have to at least mention the controversial sex scene. Well, other than it being a bit long (THE SCENE!) if I hadn't have already known about it being controversial then I wouldn't have given it a second thought. After all, it's not like we saw it going in, if that were the case then my reaction would have been something more along the lines of “HOLY SHIT!” But then again, this is my 21st Century perspective looking back on a sex scene deemed controversial in 1973. So in an analytical sense, I suppose I can understand the shock. It does seem a bit strong and obviously at the time sex scenes as strong as that would have been made available only in porn, so fair enough.

This is an odd film. The psychic woman from earlier is performing a séance for Laura and her means of contacting the dead is to go into a trance where she moans and rubs her boobs alot. I'm so confused!

HOLY SHIT! John's been working on restoring an old church. He was on a piece of wobbly scaffolding whilst working on a piece of the wall. Then it cuts to a slow motion shot of a plank of wood falling from the ceiling, which leaves the audience sort of state of panic but obviously unable to do anything. Then it cuts back to John (not in slow motion) working on the wall, then the big plank suddenly smashes through his scaffolding causing all sorts of havoc leaving him swinging on a rope and the church wall he was working on ruined. It was done rather brilliantly I might add, we see it falling in slow motion leaving us worried for John but unable to help, then cuts back to him and it's SMASH! AHHHHH!

What a right kerfuffle! After learning that their son has been injured whilst at school, Laura leaves to return home while John stays to get on with his work. Then a couple of hours after seeing her leave he sees her on a funeral boat with the two old women. So he hastily reports this to the police, as not only does he not trust the two women, but he believes they have brain-washed his wife into joining a cult. On top of that, there's a murderer on the loose. Then after reporting it and worrying for his wife's safety, she phones him from England saying that their son is fine and that she'll return soon. Learning this leaves John confused as he could have sworn he'd seen his wife. But obviously he can't have done she was in England.

(If you wish to avoid the ending being spoilt then please skip the following paragraph)

After learning of his wife being in England, John goes to the police station where they have arrested the psychic sister, feeling terribly guilty about his misunderstanding and getting her arrested over it, he escorts her home. Along the way he explains the misunderstanding, after he gets her home he leaves and she falls into a trance. Screaming for her sister to go and get John back as he's in danger. But she is unable to find him. Whilst returning home, John sees the person in the red trench coat once again but this time decides to pursue the person believing it to be his daughter. But when he finally gets the person cornered, she turns around and it's an old woman with a knife who then cuts John's throat. It's at this point that we realise he is psychic, and that he's been having various premonitions of his own death. The reason Christine was trying to contact them was to warn of this. Then what follows is the funeral boat with Laura and the two old women on heading to John's funeral so then we see that the boat incident was also a premonition. It's one of those films that really plays with your head.

Wake Wood has been compared to this, which I can see why as there are a few similarities. Most of all there's the common factor that it's about a grieving couple who's daughter has died. There's also the recurring motif of the daughter's trench coat. And also that the couple move away after the death, in Wake Wood's case it's that they move to a small remote town. In Don't Look Now's case it's that they move to Venice. That's pretty much where the similarities end, the two stories are rather different after the point when they move to another location. Another point that was similar is that both get right into the story, establishing the family then killing off the daughter without a long drawn out build up towards it.

Originally, I was baffled and confused by this film. But after some reading, I see that I didn't properly register some bits which obviously effected my enjoyment/understanding of the story. But after reading up on it, I rather like it. I knew there was the recurring motif of red; the trench coat and blood. But what I didn't realise was there were more recurring motifs; water – Christine drowning and Venice, and most of all the idea of doppelgängers. John after all is reconstructing an old church, then there's the sightings of someone who looks like Christine, lots of shots of reflections in water which in themselves are doppelgängers. It is a very deep film, there's alot to it. It's one of those films that really gets you thinking. And as such I intend to watch it again, as I'm presuming it's one of those films that takes repeat viewings to increase one's enjoyment of it. Afterall, in the booklet that came with the DVD it even says “this is a work that grows richer with every viewing.” which although I haven't re-watched it yet I'm still going to agree with because just from reading into it and discovering what I didn't take in first time round has increased my enjoyment for the film. As is I'm still going to review it based on my first viewing, the title Don't Look Now is apparently an instruction to the audience which obviously we the audience disobey and do look now, I like this because I felt compelled to keep watching maybe it was just the idea of rebelling against the title. “Hell no! I'll look at whatever I want!” but most likely it was just due to it being really interesting, I was hooked from the start and wanted to know just what the hell was going on. So as it is from my first viewing it's not a bad film, not as great as it's made out to be. But like I said this is based on my first viewing and I believe it's one of those films that requires repeat viewings for greater understanding and greater enjoyment.

Don't Look Now 3/5

1 comment:

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