Don’t Look Now
Release Year: 1973
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Writers: Allan Scott (screenplay), Chris Bryant (screenplay), Daphne Du Maurier (novella “Don’t Look Now)
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie, Hilary Mason, Clelia Matania, Massimo Serato, Renato Scarpa, Lepoldo Triste
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #121, week 40 2016
Following the sudden death of their Young daughter, John (Donald Sutherland) and Laura Baxter (Julie Christie) move to Vince where John is woking on restauring a church. They meet an odd pair, two sisters, one of which has second sight and claims to have seen their daughter standing between them. They warn the disbelieving to John to leave Venice, but he refuses. All the while a mysterious serial killer is on the Loose.
Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now is an British-Italian independent film which has gained a great reputation despite being controversial on its release. This controversy stemmed mainly from the explicit and, for its time, graphic sex scene. A rumour that will not die despite being refuted on several occasion, will have you believe that the actors were not faking it. The story is adapted from a short work by British author Daphne Du Maurier, who had a gift for writing atmospheric gothic thrillers. Although the crass 1970’s feels of Roeg’s film is hardly from her pen, the film manages to capture the slow-building mood of Du Maurier’s work. Sutherland (Cold Mountain, 2003) and Christie (Doctor Zhivago, 1965) both give excellent performances, although Sutherland benefits from having the slightly meatier part. Venice itself is here almost a character in itself and adds an exotic and unusual feel to the film; it’s a wonder that more horror films are not set here.. Either this great city has undergone a lot of restauration work since the 1970’s or they managed to finds its most charmingly festering buildings. The Whole place looks like it could come crashing Down any moment. The crackling city itself reflects the thinly maintained hold on the couple’s grief over the loss of their daughter beautifully. Despite its many qualities, Roeg can feel a like a very intrusive director, but if you can accept his intrusiveness, it will only add to the intense atmosphere. However, Don’t Look Now does not necessarily gain from rewatching and as the story is very slim, hardly anything happens for a large portion of the film. A landmark film in British horror, Don’t Look Now is highly recommended, but only to people who appreciate slowburning and atmospheric horror films.
Author Daphne Du Maurier, who also wrote the stories behind Jamaica Inn (1939), Rebecca (1940) and The Birds (1963), wrote to Nicolas Roeg after seeing the film to congratulate him on making such a strong film from her story.
The infamous sex scene was added in production because director Nicolas Roeg felt there were too many scenes of them arguing. Most of the scenes around it were improvised.
In the UK the film was released as a double feature together with The Wicker Man (1973).
Picture Copyright: Midget Entertainment