Sunday, 10 October 2010

Love and death in Venice

Don’t Look Now 
16 October 1973
Directed by: 
Nicholas Roeg
Produced by:
Peter Katz
Written by: 
Allan Scott
Chris Bryant
(story by Daphne du Maurier) 
Julie Christie
Donald Sutherland

Summary: After John and Laura Baxter’s daughter, Christine, dies tragically - they decide to take a break in Venice. While there, they meet Wendy and her sister Heather - who claims to be psychic. Heather tells Laura that her daughter is still with them. This intrigues Laura (who does not want to let go of Christine) but worries John - who is struggling to deal with Laura’s growing obsession of communicating with her daughter through Heather’s ‘powers’. John begins to see his dead daughter in Venice, wearing her red coat, but he never sees her face. He also sees things which don’t make sense and with a serial killer on the loose, John is unsure of who to trust. 
My Favourite Scene: At the beginning of the film, John is looking at a transparency with a magnifying glass, while Laura is reading. As this is happening, Christine is playing happily by the pond. The transparency shows the interior of a church with a seated figure wearing a red coat, like Christine’s. As he looks at it, he accidentally knocks a glass over the transparency. At that moment, Christine falls into the pond. A red shape (similar to blood) moves across the transparency from the red figure. John panics and, as if he knew what had happened, runs to the pond - only to find that Christine has drowned.
This is an excellent scene because both the figure in the photo and the real Christine are drowning. It also raises many questions, such as did John ‘kill’ Christine by knocking the glass over (causing the ‘blood’ to spread across the picture, representing Christine’s death)? Another thought is that John knew Christine was in danger the moment the glass hit the picture, even though she was playing outdoors, while he was indoors. It is hard to understand the scene at the time, but once the truth about John’s ability to foresee the future through his premonitions is revealed at the end of the film, everything makes sense.  
My Favourite Quotes: 
Laura Baxter: (talking to John about Heather) This one who's blind. She's the one that can see. 

Inspector Longhi: The skill of police artists is to make the living appear dead. 

My Thoughts: Don’t look now is an abstract and brilliant film. I think something important that the film conveys are the repercussions from the loss of a child. After Christine dies, the strain on the relationship between John and Laura is shown, as well as the lengths that they (especially Laura) will go to, to bring back their child. Laura wants to believe that anything is possible, whereas John is trying to be more practical and face the fact that his daughter is dead - however the film still sees him becoming obsessed by the red figure who looks like his daughter.  
Another important issue in the film is trust - at the beginning of the film, I felt that John and Laura’s relationship lacked any. However, as the film progressed, I saw that John was denying that his daughter was still alive to save Laura from any more pain - which I believe shows the love they have for each other.  Trust is also shown through Laura, when she visits the elderly women, knowing nothing about them but simply having the drive to see her daughter again. Towards the end of the film, I think John has less and less trust in people. He starts not to believe anything anyone tells him. 
The film’s plot was very interesting. Every time I thought I was sure of what was going to happen, something threw me off! There were so many twists and complications, it was difficult to piece it all together until the end, when John has his sudden realisation. 
This film would be categorised as a psychological thriller - however, throughout most of the film I was more intrigued than scared. The only moment I felt utterly terrified was when the red figure finally revealed itself in the famous end sequence. The scenes throughout the film were like pieces of a jigsaw that were not fully explained until the final scene. The combination of this, and the buildup of tension made for an extremely powerful ending.  

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