Don't Look Now 1973

director: Nicolas Roeg  



Italy, Great Britain

Alternative Titles

  • A Venezia... un dicembre rosso shocking
  • Ne vous retournez pas
  • Wenn die Gondeln Trauer tragen



Daphne du Maurier, who provided Hitchcock with the idea for The Birds, set filmgoers' nerves on edge again with Don't Look Now (1973). Adapted from a short story of hers and directed by Nicolas Roeg, it's an eerie exercise on the theme of 'nothing is what it seems'. As the title suggests, the plot concerns the way we see things - in this case, 'second sight'. A young couple, played by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, go to Venice after their child's sudden accidental death by drowning - he to work, she to rest, both to forget. A chance meeting with a clairvoyant puts an end to that. The medium gives the wife reassurance: the dead child is happy 'over there'. But to the husband, she promises no peace of mind: on the contrary, only peril and maybe death. The couple's respective faith and scepticism are worked on by the prophecy until our own psychic alarm bells are set ringing. Weird events seem to thicken out of the gloom of a wintry, out-of-season Venice that shows its inhospitable face to the baffled pair. Critics generally hailed the film as 'brilliant'. They especially praised the disturbing way that Roeg, a former cameraman, invests images with the power of omens - so that a mermaid brooch recalls a drowned body and a child's red waterproof assumes the heightened emotion of a bloodstain. The film has some conventional thriller elements, but it's the tone that presses on our apprehensions till we are ready to jump at what we imagine we see. Acting has seldom been so generously put at the service of a director. Even the love scene between Christie and Sutherland, one of the most powerful in recent cinema, not only has a sensual impact but makes an ironic point about the different natures people display depending on whether they are clothed or naked. The whole film is tuned to a waveband of subtle meanings that oblige us - notwithstanding the title - to look (and listen) with undivided attention. ALEXANDER WALKER

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Available on VHSAvailable on Betamax

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Distributor Thorn EMI
Catalogue Number TVB 900005 2
Release Series
Release Date April 1981
Duration: 105m 24s
Printed Classification
Notes Third release
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