on 30 June 2011
Nicolas Roeg's stylish and frightening occult thriller has gained in critical appreciation since it was originally released nearly four decades ago(!), and this extras-laden Blu-Ray set does it justice by gathering together the various supplemental features from earlier home video editions along with newly shot interviews with Donald Sutherland and additional crew members. I doubt anyone will be too disappointed with the extras on this disc. That noted, the audio and visual remaster featured on this Blu-Ray is of particular importance as it offers a significant upgrade in both picture and sound to all earlier home video editions. The colourful picture is noticeably sharper than earlier DVD editions and does a great job of showcasing Roeg's remarkable, often near-hallucinatory imagery. Perhaps even more importantly, the sound is equally improved and eliminates the various distortion issues that plagued earlier DVD releases. DON'T LOOK NOW came out on DVD in both the USA and UK a few years back and various online forums did their best to decide which of the two sounded superior. Sadly, each DVD sounded pretty rotten and did little justice to the film, the dialogue or Pino Donaggio's haunting score. This new Blu-Ray (proudly displaying a cover sticker noting "Picture and Audio Restoration Supervised and Approved by Nic Roeg") fixes those issues entirely and presents the movie in a clearly listenable form for perhaps the first time on home video. It sounds terrific.
DON'T LOOK NOW is a masterpiece and this Blu-Ray provides a definite, welcome upgrade from any DVD edition you might own. Now, could someone do a special edition of Roeg's weird, sexy and stylish EUREKA?
on 7 July 2011
I bought the film version of Don't Look Now a few days ago as I saw a stage version of it at Basingstoke a few years ago, and I absolutley enjoyed it. After reading some of the negative comments about the sound quality on this special edition DVD, I was a bit reluctant to purchase this. Well I decided to bite the bullet and buy a copy and to my surprise the soundtrack is very very good, considering it is a very old film. Either some of the copies of the DVD's were a bad batch or people were perhaps expecting too much from an old film such as this.
Anyway all that aside, this has to be one of the most chilling & facsinating thrillers of alltime. Don't expect a gorefest as it is not that sort of film, but for those who like good thrillers you won't be disappointed.
on 5 July 2011
This is a brief comment on the warnings about the poor quality of the soundtrack on Don't Look Now.
I'm referring below to the Blu Ray version of this film which was released by Studio Canal on July 4 2011 and I'm writing this for the benefit of those who might be worried that this version might still contain the audio problem referred to by others.
This version of the film has been digitally restored under the supervision and with the approval of the Director Nic Roeg. I can assure those interested that the audio quality of this version is fine, given that it was recorded in mono, and is presented here in mono. There is no hiss or any other sound problem with the audio track and my system is a reasonably sophisticated one. The TV is a 60" Pioneer KRP 600A, the AV amp is a Denon AVR 2809, the Blu Ray disc player is a Denon DVD 2500BT and the speakers are B&W 684s at the front and B&W 686s at the rear. I can assure you that if this problem was still there this set up would pick it up.
I first saw this film as a teenager on a black and white TV late at night. I didn't know much about the film except that it was a horror film of sorts. I soon found that it was so much more. As the film progressed it got very late, but I knew I couldn't go to bed until it was over. It left me speechless. The direction, the acting, the music, and especially the feeling of escalating dread - what would happen at the end? The ending not only surprised me, but actually made me gasp in shock.
A couple, bereaved after their daughter's death, stay awhile in wintry Venice. Two elderly sisters claim to be in contact with the dead girl, but are they telling the truth, or are they con artists? Add to this a series of strange events and a murderer terrorising the city...
This could have been (and indeed sounds like) a cheap horror flick. The reason "Don't Look Now" is a classic (an overused word, but true in this case) is that we care about the Baxters. Sutherland and Christie are thoroughly believable, especially when they have lines about the occult that could easily be corny. The same is true of Roeg's direction - instead of cheese we get a real sensation of doom. Rather than picture-postcard Venice we have rats, crumbling buildings and a bleakly-coloured maze full of confusion.
We are also left wondering about the supporting cast (even at the end we are not sure of everyone's good character). The two dotty old sisters. The shifty priest. The hotel manager. Even the police detective seems a little suspicious. Visual motifs recur - a child's ball, the red of the dead girl's coat - are they hints from the dead girl to her parents?
Of course the film is famous for its sex scene, and it is justly celebrated. A scene of love-making is inter-cut with shots of the couple dressing for dinner. This is one of the few cases in film where the scene is necessary to the story - the couple have become distant but the meeting with the two sisters may actually have brought them back together. It is also (if this is the right word) tastefully done - a very human scene depicting true love and not just sex.
"Don't Look Now" is a wonderful puzzle - eerie, tragic, human and until the last scenes, maddeningly hard to solve. When all is revealed, you want to go back and start again.
One last point: this is based on a short story by the great Daphne duMaurier. After she saw the film, she sent the director a letter saying how the couple in his film reminded her of a sad couple she once saw in a hotel and imagined why they were so unhappy - the real-life couple who inspired her original story. I think this shows how Roeg has given the film a real believability and humanity.
on 31 March 2007
a 5 star film without doubt BUT like the previous R2 release, this 'special edition' is still plagued with dreadful sound - harsh, trebly, distorted and with absurd amounts of noise reduction. Why Why Why. Roeg fans will want the commentary but there's nothing else new here and for the film, stick with the R1 edition. Sorry to sound like a geek but it makes me so angry, this fantastic film deserves better.
on 26 September 2013
Nicolas Roeg's moody atmospheric psychic thriller Don't Look Now is one of the most unique explorations of the subject of grief that I have seen in quite a while. Controversial upon release in 1973 the film holds up quite well and is recognized as a classic of the English horror genre.
After the drowning death of their young daughter the Baxters (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) leave their English home for Venice where John has found work restoring a church. His wife Laura meets there two old women, Heather(Hilary Mason) and her blind sister Wendy(Clelia Matania). Wendy claims that she can receive messages from the deceased daughter who is now happy but feels that her father is in danger.
What follows is a showcase of the unexpected and the movie fits together like an elaborate puzzle with the viewer having to piece together the clues in order to get to the ensd of the journey. The director's desire was to present a realistic view of how a couple deals with grief and how it can force them apart even while they remain together. The film was extremely controversial upon its release due primarily to an explicit love scene between the couple that is intercut with scenes of the couple preparing for dinner.
The film uses both editing and location work in Venice to create a mood of impending doom. The other key feature here is represented by the line:"Things are not always as they seem." The film is filled with twists and in order to get the most out of the film it takes a careful viewing or several repeat viewings.
The Optimum Releasing Corporation Blu Ray that I viewed was encoded for Region B and presents a pristine transfer of the film. The sound is good for the most parts but some fluctuations in dialogue make some parts of the film harder to understand than others. This is not a real concern but more a minor annoyance. There are a ton of special features including a commentary track with Roeg, two featurettes, and quite a few interviews with the crew. This is a well put together package of a great film that is unfortunately not often seen. One only hopes that a comparable Region 1 release makes its way to the market soon.
A must see.
on 17 July 2011
What a shame that such an iconic 1970s movie has been spoilt for 2011 with excessive digital noise reduction. This film has dated in so many ways, but remains an excellent watch with great performances and a chilling climax. But alas, when watching this with a projector, original film grain has been removed and replaced with a blurry sheen that looks like it was shot on Umatic tape rather than 35mm film. The image really falls apart in low light scenes. What is wrong with the film looking like it was shot in 1972? Oh and by the way, you missed A LOT of image spots in the despotting. So, picture-wise, this aint great.
on 29 July 2002
"One of the best horror films ever made," proclaims the cover quote from The Times. And it is, but only in the way that A Clockwork Orange is a pretty shrewd teen angst drama, or Taxi Driver is the finest movie about public transport since Mutiny On The Buses. Don't Look Now is simply a great film, great because it defies categorization, because it has no precedent. For one thing, it's less a horror film than a ghost story. But where's the ghost? There is a haunting, to be sure, but it's the haunting of a couple, John and Laura Baxter, by the memory of their daughter's accidental drowning. They take a break in grimy, off-season Venice (hardly a shrewd move, it being a drowned city) where the John (Donald Sutherland) oversees some restoration work on a church while Laura (Julie Christie) is befriended by two elderly women who may or may not be clairvoyant and who may or may not offer her a chance to communicate with her dead daughter. John scoffs at her fascination with such mumbo-jumbo, yet seems himself dogged by strange premonitions. Yes, you've guessed it: she isn't psychic at all. He is.
And that's about it. Not much of a premise. And not a lot of plot. But plenty of mood. This may be based on a Daphne Du Maurier story, it may feature two of the finest leads in seventies cinema, but essentially the film is carried by Roeg's otherworldly direction - all distorted lenses, bizarre cross-cutting and non-linear timescales. Roeg's genius, as previously declared in Performance and Walkabout, is his ability to position his films not merely from the point of view of his protagonists, but to place the camera firmly inside their minds. Time, continuity of events, even mere sounds and images become abstractions, all mixed-up through Roeg's wholly unique use of montage. A drop of 'blood' smears across a slide transparency moments before the daughter drowns; a block of masonry gradually falls in slow motion as we cross cut to Sutherland working below in real time; a moment of doubt is cross-cut with a sinister 'reaction' shot of the old women laughing at an unheard joke. Like a poet, Roeg offers no explanation for these images, but then he doesn't need to - their beauty is that we understand them on a purely instinctive, intuitive level. A case in point is the celebrated sex scene, which shocks not because it is supposedly explicit (in fact, clever editing and suggestive angles means that we see much less than we think we see) but because Roeg intercuts it with shots of the couple dressing for dinner. Suddenly what could have been the obligatory gratuitous nude scene (Christie was then a major sex symbol, and Sutherland had his fans too) becomes a disturbingly intimate insight into their relationship and the effect their daughter's death has had. It's too painful, too raw, to be titillating.
This kind of montaging occurs throughout the film, indeed by juxtaposing unrelated shots and scenes, Roeg is almost telling a story that isn't there (surely the 'blood' was just a coincidence; how could the women really have been laughing at Sutherland?). Oh, there's a mystery too - is the small red-coated figure Sutherland glimpses really his daughter returned from the dead? - but even that is tenuous, possibly imagined (like the ambiguous mystery in Antonioni's Blow Up, Coppola's The Conversation or Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut), a maguffin to facilitate Roeg's examination of loss, guilt and denial. Like Blue Velvet or 2001, Don't Look Now is a rare, brilliant example of cinema being used to tell a story that would be unfeasible in any other medium (the film is markedly different to Du Maurier's original story). But then this impressionistic approach has always been the true legacy of British cinema (see Michael Powell, Ken Russell, Lindsay Anderson, Donald Cammell, Danny Boyle, early Richard Lester, even early Ridley Scott, not to mention honorary Brits like Losey and Kubrick), not gangster movies, period dramas or genteel rom-coms. And no-one, but no-one, pushed the envelope further than Roeg. Hopefully with this DVD reissue, people will look now (ouch!) and give this genius the credit he deserves.
on 12 December 2009
So good seeing this movie again after 36 years. What I missed when I saw it at first in 1973, just 17 years old, was the feeling of grief over the loss this couple has to suffer from. The unspoken grief & love between the couple are much more present in the movie than the suspense or horror. It is a relief though to see a movie without any computertrics or actionscenes but with an strong, very understandable atmosphere thanks to the superb cutting. Strong acting of Julie Christie & Donald Sutherland. Still after all this years, one of the most beautifull love scenes ever in a movie & at the same time a masterclass of cutting.