Monday, 14 February 2011

Don't Look Now - DVD - 11/2/11

You may remember at the start of the year I confessed that I hadn't seen "Taxi Driver".

Now I have to admit that I hadn't ever seen "Don't Look Now".

I can hear you you know.

"Calls himself a film buff, ha!"

Look, it's not my fault.

I can't find time to see everything.

While "real" film journalists and critics are busy writing up lengthy essays on the new wave of new wave of new Spanish film or discussing the relative merits of Polish post-modern cinema I was out there watching "Megamind" and interviewing Alex Zane.

You tell me which side has more value.


Oh, shut up.

In director Nic Roegs adaptation of Daphne Du Mauriers story we are taken into a dark, twisted, demented, hallucinatory and bizarre world where nothing is as it seems and everything must be treated with suspicion.

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are the parents of a child who dies when she falls into the pond in their garden and drowns.  Their grief and desire to leave it behind takes them to Venice where Sutherland works for the Catholic Church as the supervising architect on a restoration project on a chapel.  While there Christie is confronted by a blind psychic who tells her that their child is happy on the "other side" and at the same time Sutherland is haunted by visions of a child in a red coat in the alleys of Venice...exactly the clothing that their child was wearing when she drowned.

The film is soaked in red, from the childs red plastic mac to the red coat of the figure haunting Sutherland.  There is not a scene where the colour red is not found, clothing, posters, shop signs, wine, paint...without their ever being any blood on screen it is impossible not to see blood everywhere.  Is it symbolic of the death of their child and the fact that they cannot escape it or a sign that life continues?

As important is the fact that the film is also drenched in water.  From the pond where the little girl drowns to the canals of Venice.  Does it offer evidence of the parents being washed clean of their sin in not supervising their child or is it a reminder that death is all around us?

Reflections, reflective surfaces and mirrors are also everywhere...pointing at a life after this one or a parallel world?  "Don't Look Now" is not a simple or straightforward film, it is complex and unsettling despite its relatively simple storyline.  It is a horror film that credits its audience with greater intelligence than most in that genre and is another example of why many believe the 1970's to have been the decade when cinema was at its peak.

1 comment:

  1. A really great film! Glad someone other than myself has seen it.

    Without spoiling the ending for others, what is your opinion of the ending?

    I can also imagine that the world is being shown from the perspective of Donald Sutherland, as if everything surrounding him is a constant reminder of his guilt over his daughters death. That is why the colour red and water seem to stand out more than everything else?

    Also the guilt is so overpowering that he is oblivious to the clues that signal his fate. It is hinted that he has some slight psychic abilities and can see moments in the future without realising it. This is why he sees his wife and the two elderly ladies on a funeral boat at a point in the film, a scene which is repeated towards the end. I also believe he sees another clue of his fate at the beginning of the film with the picture of his daughter with the red stain on it.

    Then again I may be wrng haha! :)