Based on a novella by Daphne du Maurier, Nicolas Roeg‘s 1973 supernatural thriller Don’t Look Now is one of the finest – and scariest – horror films ever made. Yet Roeg’s film isn’t just a chiller; it’s a profound study of love and grief too.
Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie star as married couple John and Laura Baxter, who travel to out-of-season Venice following the death by drowning of their young daughter. As John works on the restoration of one of the city’s ancient churches, they encounter a blind psychic who claims to be in touch with their dead child. The notion comforts Laura, but John the rationalist is sceptical, and doesn’t heed the psychic’s warning that his life is in danger…
As the tale unfolds, Roeg’s fragmented editing style is much to the fore, notably in the famous scene which intercuts the couple’s lovemaking with shots of them getting dressed and preparing to go out for dinner afterwards. The scene’s intimacy and intensity gave rise to a notorious rumour that Sutherland and Christie had actually made love on camera – testament instead to the truthfulness of Sutherland and Christie’s portrayal of their characters.
Originally released on a double bill with Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (another initially neglected film that went on to acquire cult status), Don’t Look Now is now recognised as Roeg’s masterpiece. He’s supervised the film’s picture and audio restoration for its release on Blu-ray and, given its age, the film looks and sounds splendid. There are extensive extras too, including a commentary by Roeg (more anecdotal than analytical, it has to be said) and Danny Boyle’s compressed four-and-a-half minute version of the film, made for a Bafta tribute to Roeg.
Released on Blu-ray by Optimum Releasing on 4th July.