This film needs a thread for discussion.
As of now I have not seen the film recent enough to discuss, but I am rewatching it tonight and then will return to talk about it.
Also the ending was ruined for me before I watched it and I don’t want that to happen to others, so can we try hard to give a warning before talking about the ending? Thanks.
The ending was ruined for me as well and I have still not watched it. Looks really good though.
I give it my highest recommendation. Don’t worry about knowing the ending. Sure you miss a shock, but really the film is much more than that.
I love this film too, Drew. It has one of the most fascinating uses of color in a movie that I have seen. Yes, the ending is bizarre, but there is also this underlying oddness throughout the entire film that just makes one feel ‘not quite right’ about everything that is taking place. I don’t know how to explain it better than that. It didn’t frighten me so much as it made me feel overwhelming dread. I highly recommend it to those who have not seen it.
This is a greaf film that succeeds on many levels. It is metaphysical, mysterious, closely-scripted, and is a film where many possible conclusions can be drawn. Look very closely at every scene and all.the hints throughout. Also, it has a great sex scene between the lovely Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland that is rumored to have been more than just play-acted – who knows? Look very closely to see if you can tell – ha!
Sure, we don’t want to give away too much or spoil it for others, but the films does need to be discussed and analyzed at some point. It was quite an experience for me when I saw it on a large screen with a packed theatre. There was stunned silence after, followed by murmurings of everyone trying to figure out what they had just seen. When I tried to talk to my then girlfriend about the film at the time, she shrugged me off saying the film had made too powerful of an impact on her for her to talk about it right away. By the way, I broke up with her before I got her version of the film’s meaning. So be it. Enjoy, those of you watching for the first time!
Joe, You’re right that it needs to be discussed so….
THIS THREAD IS OFFICIALLY DECLARED SPOILER-FILLED! IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM DO NOT READ FURTHER
Alright that should do.
I’ll expand on this more tonight after my second viewing, but I felt like the film was about letting go in a very harsh sort of way. Its basically saying to all of those who have lost someone, “Enough is enough. She/he is dead and will alway be dead. Get over it. You are only causing yourself harm”. I think the ending is showing what is in most cases emotional harm, interpreted as literal harm. His inability to let go, results in his death.
Watching it tonight – SO EXCITED!
I will read the posts here and give my opinion after I have seen the movie, obviously.
Parky, How many people are joining us for this awesome film?
BIG SPOILER HERE – BEWARE!!!
Good point, Drew – but what’s that little red lady doing at the end? Boy was that creepy – and unexpected. Did she really exist and if so, where did she come from? The blind psychic lady is the only one that seems ‘aware’ of her before her sudden appearnce. Of course, she is dressed like the dead daughter, which is just too much – pshew! Any ideas what she is supposed to represent? That part has always bothered me.
Drew – About 5. The usual crowd – but Donald and Julie will be joining us, which is amazing.
PARKY GET OUT OF THIS THREAD!
Joe, I don’t see it so much as what she represents, but more of what she is not. What is more realistic: a dead little girl or a dwarf? Obviously a dwarf. So I guess you could say she represents the reality. What IS strange is that she stabs him! However I think this is the judgment of John. He couldn’t let go and now he is being punished.
SPOILER – That little red devil was the serial killer that the police were tracking all along in the background of the story. At least that is what I always believed.
OK – but why is the dwarf dressed like the dead daughter and why does she single out Sutherland for the kill? Of course, there are many presentiments to this – not just from the psychic – throughout the film, like the brick falling and nearly hitting him, etc.. Gotta go for now, but I’ll be back for more timely explanations. It’s been awhile since I have seen it, so I am going by my recollection. Thanks!
If we are talking about it literally, then yes its extremely bizarre and coincidental. However if we look at it as a representation of John’s emotional mistakes, then it works.
I’m not saying its a dream, but just that its figurative. What are the chances she was wearing the coat, and picked him? One in a million, however it could happen, so I buy it literally, and interpret it figuratively.
I think a need to see this again soon. She doesn’t single Sutherland out, he singles her out by thinking that she is his dead daughter and pursuing her (is it a her?) through the streets of Venice. Obviously there is a deeper meaning to it, I think, which is why I need to see it again. I’m looking forward to hearing some thoughts on this.
this film needs the Criterion treatment badly! MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Good point. That lowers the randomness of it. She is a psychotic killer and he is stalking her. Its only logical that what happened happened.
[Again – Major Spoiler alert]
Soybean – Yes, I know that he does pursue her and that she keeps slipping just out of sight. However, when he finally does track her down she immediately turns on him and gets him – as if she was setting this up from the beginning. This begs the question of whether this was all a case of him just stumbling upon the serial killer or a set-up to get him – meaning he was being led to this denouement. It’s like a no exit or in his case, last exit. We never get an explanation, in any case, as to whether this was the serial killer – do we?
I think in the context of the film that the serial killer theme is a kind of MacGuffin. Why is the dwarf dressed as his daughter – or so he perceives in any case? This changes the whole storyline imo into one of supernatural horror. All the previous ominous happenings to Sutherland’s character – John, he basically ignores, because he is always seeking rational explanations for everything. His wife, Julie Christie’s character – Laura, is the only one that believes the psychic sister when she warns her that they must leave Venice. Only the blind psychic sister ‘sees’ the real threat lurking in the labyrinthine shadows of the canals.
Unless anyone can tell me why the red-caped dwarf is just where she is, does what she does, dresses like his dead daughter, then I can only see this as some sort of weird occult happening in the context of the daughter’s death. I don’t believe there is a rational explanation – ie, in terms of the serial killer.
I think, in any case, the two sisters are the key to understanding this. If I do remember rightly, they meet Laura (Christie) just after her husband’s exit before she leaves Venice. I think there is a definite plot link between the red-caped dwarf and the dead daughter that is more than just co-incidental. I think the psychic sister’s reactions throughout, and her warnings that go unheeded by Sutherland, reveal that this is not meant to be seen as just another random serial killing in Venice.
Btw – This would make a great double-bill with Death in Venice. Both use the canals and Venice to create a sinister and ominous tone – and both have similar tragic endings, where the protagonist has not heeded clear warning signs to leave the city before it’s too late.
Keep in mind that the serial killer dwarf is the cloaked figure in John’s color slide of the chapel interior in the opening scene. And the evil energy of her destiny to slay him somehow melts the slide? Or makes the color bleed? Causes a time dysfunction between the moment of his taking the photo (maybe someone else took it?), the moment of him observing the photo (concurrent with his daughter’s death and his psychic cognition of his daughter’s death), and the moment of his death at the hands of the dwarf in the picture…right? I mean, I feel that, just like DONNIE DARKO’s time-traveling harbingers of doom, the stuff in DON’T LOOK NOW isn’t constructed precisely enough to ever be rationally unpacked. I think that’s one of the pleasures of the movie and one of the keys to its incredible tone of dread that someone mentioned earlier. Great movie, but I don’t know how accurately its occult happenings can be analyzed….too much of their motivations and machinations remain unexplained in the movie.
I always took the film’s depiction of the dwarven serial killer as to be a combination of reality and Sutherland’s emotional attachment to his deceased daughter. I believe a character even mentions in the film that Sutherland’s daughter’s red mack is so common that any child could be wearing the same thing. The ending is logical I thought because we have Sutherland who is in reality following a serial killer around Venice, there’s no wonder that the killer doesn’t want to be discovered and finally turns on Sutherland himself as a last resort.
When I had first seen the film I thought this “dwarven contrivance” to be a bad attempt to bring in a twist ending, but the more you see the film you can tell that this is not the case. The concept behind the ending is not meant to be a “twist” per se, but a psychological revelation that we not only have this mad killer dwarf running around murdering people but we also have a maddening Sutherland seeing connections to his daughter where they don’t necessarily exist.
It’s a mysterious film that doesn’t really answer the majority of the questions it presents, but what really grabbed me about it was the dynamic way in which all these scenes built upon each other and really complemented each other to support the insanity of the ending. There really is no other film like it, even in Roeg’s other films, he never really reaches the height that he did with Don’t Look Now. It also has a very anti-religious undertone (at least I thought) that likens Sutherland’s obsession for his daughter as to that of “seeing Christ everywhere, even where he isn’t” especially given Sutherland’s reconstruction of the church and his dislike of the vicar (or whatever he was).
Truly incredible. After a rewatch this film has jumped even higher in my book.
I stick by my original analysis. Whether the dwarf was a coincidence or fate is up to you. All I know is that it could happen and that’s what’s important.
John may have been the more “logical” of the two but he still did believe it all, even if he didn’t show it. I sense serious fear whenever he hears any of the premonitions. And then of course he also believes he is seeing his daughter.
They can’t let go, and it ruins their lives.
the murder finale is obviously a reference to the protagonist’s tormenting visions of death and yet,it serves as a bloody parable of woman fear…
i personally think it all began after the daughter’s death,cringing the couple’s soothing romance and Roeg creates the father figure as Central figure of the film..and mainly,the disbelief to the supernatural (disbelief towards the Cassandra like Heather?disbelief towards his wife’s isolation to the Venetian mystical paths?)
Bat Timing offered Roeg a better chance to express a misconducted rage against females,but also criticized masculine aggravation…
in Don’t Look Now though,he tries to sympathize with a male character who doesn’t seem to care for Art (his job),doesn’t seem to care for the women surrounding him (too snobbish to accept someone’s else’s opinion except hs own chauvinism?) and last but not least,his doomsday comes from the hands of (quite possibly) a “nobody”,which could lead to the speculation of his a-sexual character…
having seen some Roeg films,i actually discovered that the love-making scene in Don’t Look Now is the ONLY scene which bears an equality rhythm between the man and woman of the film….
all this is just my weird head’s blender,so it’s just an idea Drew.
Hmm that is interesting. I honestly never saw the film as misogynistic. I feel him ignoring his wife is not so much due to chauvinism, but due to grief.
Speaking of the sex scene, is it not one of the most beautiful scenes of all time? I think it is.
Wow. I cannot get the image of the dwarf’s face out of my mind. My friend believes that the surprise ending is just a cheap scare that’s not really consistent with the rest of the film’s artistic depth, but I disagree. I think the shocking ending, though it is ambiguously foreshadowed with the back story of the serial killer, is just a horrifying embodiment of Sutherland’s obsession. I love the tension throughout the film (and it’s so beautifully shot), and I think the film’s ending is a great climax to that tension. Also, the sex scene’s incredible – passionate, disturbing, symbolic, and yes – pretty dang hot.
Parky, Did you talk further with either of the Negative Nancys, or did one of them say it before she left?
Also do you see it as misogynistic?
It wasn’t the Negative Nancys that said it, it was Batman (though he did enjoy the film, it was his only criticism of it).
I don’t see it as misogynistic. I think it stereotyped women a bit, but not really, I felt all of the characters were very real and their problems and doubts and such were completely equal and normal for couples.
Hmmm Batman, you say. Interesting.
Haha well I too disagree, even though his criticism is a common one it seems. I think the whole film is very tense and creepy so obviously the climax is going to be terrifying, and as I said I think the dwarf is a dwarf because its just the only person who could both be a serial killer and be mistaken for a child.
I guess it could be seen that Laura was being naive and foolish while John was keeping his head, but I don’t think it holds up because it really isn’t the case. First of all John is not perfectly sane (especially as the film progresses), and second I didn’t see Laura’s actions as a comment on her sex.
It’s a good film but having known the ending before I saw it, it’s impact was lessened greatly for me. The whole time I knew exactly what the film was about and while it is impeccably well done, the lack of suspense took a little off the top for me. But still a film I’d recommend.
A huge recommendation.
@*Joe*> How about a triple bill? Don’t Look Now, Death In Venice and The Comfort Of Strangers?
Read the short story (by Daphne du Maurier) is my suggestion! (Though now that I read Fredo’s remarks, maybe you should see the film first.) I read the story several years before seeing the picture; knowing the ending already didn’t really spoil the movie for me. I liked both, but I seem to remember liking the book more.