Monday, 18 April 2011

Don't Look Now

1973  by Nicolas Roeg

John and Laura loses their daughter Christine in a tragic accident. John is now working in Venice, trying to restore an old church, and Laura accompanies him. In a restaurant, they meet two elderly sisters, one of whom, Heather, is blind. Heather tells Laura that she could see a little girl sitting between them and the girl was very happy. From the descriptions, Laura realises that Heather is talking about Christine and this actually brings back her happiness. She talks about this to John who doesnt believe all this but is happy to see the good mood with Laura. Laura again meets Heather, who warns her that John's life is in danger in Venice. She also tells her that John is actually gifted with the kind of second vision, she has. John is really angry as Laura looks so silly believing all this. They receive a call that their son is sick and Laura leaves for England. Later, John sees Laura and the two sisters on a boat and thinks Laura is in danger. Occassionally there are dead bodies found in the city which means a serial killer is present somewhere. John goes to police and informs them about the sisters. He contacts his sons school and is then pleasantly surprised to talk to Laura on the phone, who is getting ready to fly back to Italy. Police had by then arrested the sisters but John goes back to Police, apologises and helps Heather, back to her hotel. As John leaves Heather goes into a trance. Laura, guided by Police, arrive into Heather's room. Heather asks her to stop John. John, for the last many days have found the presence of a person in a red coat some where around, and as he comes out of Heather's hotel, spots this person again and decides to follow. Together with John, we too relaise then that John had this second visions and all along he was being warned about his own future.

After watching this brilliant movie, my first thought was, should this movie be released now I, by Indian standards, would have thought this movie is ahead of time. The fact that this one came out in 1973, makes it a super brilliant movie. I am so curious how people reacted to this movie then.

It is not a real horror movie, nor is it a real thriller or a drama about the grief of the parents who lost their loving daughter. It is a unique mix of all this and even more. I feel terribly sorry that I dont have the talent or vocabulary or anything that will help me write all my thoughts about this movie. Such a pity. So let me just note down some of the most brilliant aspects of this film.

A feeling of grief, horror and suspense through out the movie, which is told in an incredibly good and consistent pace.

The description of the serial killings, like routine elements in the city life, and how the person with the red coat is shown at the end, is brilliant. A master stroke, no words to explain. See it to believe it.

Brilliantly scripted and directed. I must specifically say about one important point. John sees Laura, after she has gone to London, with the sisters, in a moving boat which creates a lot of doubts for both him and the viewers. Later at the climax we see the same shot again and realise that Laura is actually on the funeral boat, standing together with the sisters. Without any difficulties, so simple actually, we are told that John was looking at his own future through out. Brilliant and beautiful, I must say.

Cinematography for the mood - excellent. Hardly will we think about the camera ever, while watching. An excellent and unique portrayal of Venice.

May be the best edited movie I have ever seen. From the very beginning of the movie we know that this is excellent but by the end we realise that the Editor Graeme Clifford is a maestro in his art. He did something , the quality of which was decades ahead of his time. Brilliant, Brilliant and Brilliant. It is unbelievable that this kind of a master class perfection was attained in the 1970's. No student of editing will want to miss this movie.

Excellent performance by all actors, especially by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.

I have heard many people talking about Shining, with that brilliant performance by Jack Nicholson, whenever they talk about horror and thriller movies. I am surprised why Dont Look now is never mentioned at all. May be it could be because of that explicit love making scene, which was beautifully shot and edited. True, it is not real horror nor is it a real thriller, but this movie can be all. It carries a very special atomosphere, which is quite chilling, making you to watch it even without blinking your eye. This doesnt mean you expect a horror scene at each turn or anything. But its different. As I said, I dont have enough talent to write about this movie. You have to see it to beleive it.

One of the best cinematic experiences, one may have, thats what I would say. A classic of an intelligent movie. Watch it, please, if you haven't already.

Many of those Hollywood flicks, we would not have appreciated as much, if we had watched this movie first. I can see where many of those 'world box office conquering' suspenses and surprises were inspired from.