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Author Topic: Don't Look Now (1973)  (Read 9196 times)
Juan Miranda
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« on: February 28, 2008, 04:31:08 PM »

I'm a huge horror film fan as some of you may know. For years I've been a bit obsessed with the movie DON'T LOOK NOW, a Brit horror film made in 1973 starring Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie and Venice.

I know the city reasonably well, and as such on a trip there in November last year, I tried to track down and photograph as many of the locations used by director Nicolas Roeg as I could. He mostly used parts of the city that are well off any tourist maps, and when discovered today are often weirdly deserted, like abandoned fake studio sets.

These 35mm pics have proved to be quite popular with some galleries, and I'm currently exhibiting some of my Venice pics in Leeds and Birmingham:

http://www.clairegalleries.co.uk/artist.aspx?id=86

This is an ongoing project though, as there are a few places in the city I've yet to chase up. I hope to go back next winter (Roeg famously shot the film in an freezing, out of season Venice) with a large format camera and really get into the red dwarf's lair in a new way.


Campo San Stae (the last location used in the film)


Invidia (Envy)


Ponte Vinanti

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2008, 07:10:19 PM »

Nice pics. Say, I've always wanted to ask somebody who knows: what was the dwarf's motivation for doing what she did?

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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2008, 07:50:30 PM »

what was the dwarf's motivation for doing what she did?

Pissed at "normies" that she didn't get a part in Wizard of Oz?

Rumor has it that she was in Fellini's "Clowns". Can anybody confirm this? She should be easy to pick out.

« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 07:53:39 PM by The Firecracker » Logged



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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2008, 08:42:52 PM »

Nice stuff Juan!

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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2008, 10:03:57 PM »

 Afro

Thank you Juan.  Nice work.  Great film.  How was the inside of San Nicolo dei Mendicoli ?

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Say, I've always wanted to ask somebody who knows: what was the dwarf's motivation for doing what she did?

I read the short story by du Maurier quite some time ago.  I don't think there ever was an explanation.  If my memory serves me, it's pretty much like the film.  It comes out of nowhere for the shock value.   

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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2008, 10:27:16 PM »

  I don't think there ever was an explanation. 

Does it really need one?
Why can't the dwarf be a crazed killer whom Sutherland mistook to be the ghost of his dead daughter?

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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2008, 10:29:08 PM »

Didn't say there had to be one.

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The Firecracker
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2008, 10:31:32 PM »

Didn't say there had to be one.


My comment was aimed more at DJ and it wasn't meant to be pushy.

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« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2008, 12:03:56 AM »

Yeah, okay. But then the second sight nonsense is what? Sutherland getting premonitions of his own death? Which he doesn't avoid, so the communications are therefore meaningless? I guess that could be the explanation, but it sort of renders the whole exercise pointless, doesn't it?

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Juan Miranda
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« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2008, 05:31:19 AM »

How was the inside of San Nicolo dei Mendicoli ?

It's very dark and gloomy. Too much for the film stock I was using. There was one little old lady sat at the entrance looking after it. She was making leaflets or something, as my entire visit was filled with the sound of paper being ripped over and over again. The building was being restored "for real" when Roeg shot there in the winter of 1972/73, and yet again one wall was being repaired when I was there.

It is by tradition the city's oldest church, one has stood there since the 8th century. The present stucture is a rare Byzantine, 12th century building, but the only remaning features of this I could see inside were the incredibly ancient looking columns. There are no mosaics, like the one we see Sutherland restoring in the movie. This part of the church is actually filled with mannerist paintings of the life of Christ. In the film these were covered with white sheets.

As for interpretations of the meaning of the film, I'll post some of my own thoughts on it later, as I'm off out now.

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« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2008, 04:28:04 PM »

but it sort of renders the whole exercise pointless, doesn't it?


That's how I've always felt about the movie.

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« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2008, 04:38:34 PM »

I first saw this film on 30 December 1979 to be precise. I was 14, alone in the house, riveted by the great beauty and emotion of Don't Look Now. And freaked senseless by Adelina Poerio of course. I went to a New Year party the next night and it seemed that everybody was talking about it, despite the fact it was (which we didn't know then) a heavily cut print, shorn almost entierly of the famous sex scene.

It has remained an endlessly fascinating time machine which years of viewing can never exhaust. I'm surprised that people ofen find it so depressing, as it actually contains such an overtly theist, spiritual and even Catholic finale it makes the agnostic in me cringe. Julie Christie ends the film almost in an ecstasy of sure and certain ressurection of the soul, thanks, it's true, to some quite horrific experiences, the death of her daughter and husband.

However, isn't this the essence of contenplation of the sacrifice of Christ, with a film set almost entierly in Italian churches with a priest as a major (and quite creepy) character? The sex scene, one of the few non-gratuitous one's in screen history, is there purely to bond the audience with the characters, who spend most of the rest of the film in grim conflict, and also, touchingly and heartbreakingly this is probably the first time they have made love (they don't just "fuck" as in crass commercialistic terms) since the death of their child, but it will also be their last moment of intimicay together. A mature approach to character development sadly missing from 99% of most other films which feature such sequences.

Sutherland as John Baxter is bombarded through out the film by "premonitions of his own death". However he totaly ignores them. Despite his job as restorer of churches he is a sceptical atheist. Sutherland's tragedy is he doesn't realise this until, like a certain Leone character, only at the point of death, and it's too late then. As an audience, we are in exactly the same position as Sutherland. Yes we can go back, look at the film again, reconstruct the whole thing as a series of warnings, but this is only with the luxury of hindsight, and in recent years, a re-wind button.

This is what we really fear in life. Not the end of ourselves, which while it is a major preoccupation (with just about all of us surely), is still something we will be largely unaware of and will never face the consequences of, 'cause we won't be around anymore. However, if a friend, lover, parent, child dies, we are truly never the same again as a person, haunted by all the "what if's" and "I wish I'd said's"... This is what DON'T LOOK NOW is really about. It's what makes the death of the child so horrendous (a character we actually know nothing about) and John Baxter's even worse, as we have lived with him and, so to speak, heard the music in his head. Death, love and loss in DLN have consequences in Roeg's film in a way I can think few other fiction films in cinema history come close to replicating.

More complexly, as Julie Christie herself points out early in the film, Sutherland could be seen in a way to be blamed for their child's death, and proposes that their daughter want's to "forgive" him. However, as he lies dying, one of the first visions he has is of his child smiling and looking straight at the audience, smiling perhaps at his suffering and punishment?

For me at any rate the film is packed with images, emotions, questions and possible meanings I find it impossible to dismiss glibly, it has moved me like few other films in my life. Even the way Roeg uses the psychogeography of the city is compelling, with the very landscape playing a major role, as veiled and as prophetic as John Baxter's premonitions. It was this that led to my own current photo project, but more of that later maybe.

« Last Edit: March 01, 2008, 05:43:19 PM by Juan Miranda » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2009, 05:05:26 PM »

WTF is up with this bum searching engine? It took me 5 minutes to find this topic, and I found it only after I searched for ''Nicolas Roeg'' rather than ''Don't Look Now'' or ''Dont Look now'' or something in that style... You go figure the logic behind that? Huh


Anyway, the movie, which I finally saw after years and years of my friends persuading, doesn't quite come huge in my book as seems to be by everybody else's consensus. Very few things make sense and even less sit on their place in the end. The way I see it, all is just a huge subterfuge with a lame shocker in the end. The meaning of the movie and interpretations? Beats me, can't find any... and I'm usually a sucker for those kind of things...

Now, one thing Roeg really did extraordinarily (whether he did it wittingly or not I don't know) was capturing and exposing the logic and psychology behind old European town/town's section 'planning', and the specific role of churches in them. Why all old European towns had those small, filthy, claustrophobic, ugly and uninviting streets/passages and buildings? - Because the church would then have the prime position/role, acting as something beautiful and extraordinary, like from another world. A sanctuary.

Yeees... If you add to that the creepy bishop with a five tons golden cross around his neck, quite a well crafted and well disguised anti-clerical sentiment this movie radiates.


(floating somewhere around) 7/10

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2011, 01:53:42 PM »

Hmmmmmmm: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004EMS034/ref=nosim?

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« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2011, 07:16:40 PM »

I saw it in the '70s in a theatre with my father. There must have been the sex scene but we were both bored to death. I don't think I'll ever feel like giving it a second chance, especially after having read this thread.

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