Don't Look Now  

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Don't Look Now has become famous for its sex scene involving Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. The scene was unusually graphic for the time, leading to rumours it was unsimulated, although only nine frames were trimmed for the original American theatrical release in order to avoid an MPAA X rating. The assertion that Sutherland and Christie actually had sex was repeated as recently as 2001 in Patrick Robertson's Film Facts.

The scene was an unscripted last minute improvisation by Roeg who felt that without it there would be too many scenes of the couple arguing. It is edited in an unorthodox but typical Roeg manner with the footage of the act intercut with footage of the couple getting dressed for dinner afterward.

Director Steven Soderbergh paid homage to the scene by including a tamer version in a similar style in his 1998 Elmore Leonard adaptation Out of Sight. A similar scene also appears in the 1981 thriller Ghost Story between Craig Wasson and Alice Krige. Christie and Sutherland reteamed for the 1992 film The Railway Station Man which also included a frank depiction of a sexual act.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Don't Look Now (A Venezia... un Dicembre rosso shocking) is a 1973 independent film directed by Nicolas Roeg. It is a thriller adapted from the short story by Daphne du Maurier. Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland portray a married couple who travel to Venice following the recent accidental death of their daughter, after the husband accepts a commission to restore a church. They encounter two sisters, one of whom claims to be clairvoyant and informs them that their daughter is trying to contact them and warn them of danger. The husband at first dismisses their claims, but starts to experience mysterious sightings himself.

While Don't Look Now observes many conventions of the thriller genre, it focuses on the psychology of grief and the effect the death of a child can have on a relationship. Its depiction of grief has been identified as unusually strong for a film featuring supernatural plot elements.

Don't Look Now is renowned for its innovative editing style and its use of recurring motifs and themes and for a controversial sex scene that was explicit for its time. The film often employs flashbacks and flashforwards in keeping with the depiction of precognition, but some scenes are intercut or merged to alter the viewer's perception of what is really happening. It adopts an impressionist approach to its imagery, often presaging events with familiar objects, patterns and colours using associative editing techniques.

Its reputation has grown in the years since its release and it is now considered a classic and an influential work in horror and British film.

Plot synopsis

Don't Look Now tells the story of a couple, Laura (Julie Christie) and John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) whose young daughter has recently drowned in a tragic accident at home. Their grief puts a sudden pressure on their marriage.

Seeking a change of scenery and an opportunity to work through their loss, they take a "working vacation" to Venice, Italy, where John has been contracted to restore an ancient church. While John attends to this project, Laura is befriended by two strange elderly sisters. One of the sisters, Heather (Hilary Mason), is blind and claims to be in psychic contact with the Baxters' dead daughter. Laura is drawn to the sisters, but John finds their influence on her unsettling and suspects them of deceit. The ensuing drama is set against a subplot involving a serial killer who has eluded the police. John catches glimpses of a child-like figure in red raingear who resembles his dead daughter, although the figure vanishes whenever John pursues it. He begins to question his own sanity and that of his wife as Laura appears to be completely under the command of the sisters, who in turn suggest that John shares their gift of a "second sight."

John's fears and Laura's apparent obsession with the sisters lead them into a spiraling vortex of coincidences, recurring themes and motifs (light on water, breaking glass, the colour red), which reaches a dramatic conclusion in an old bell tower. John confronts the mysterious figure in red, realizing too late that his visions were premonitions of a grisly end.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Don't Look Now" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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