Don't Look Now and Other Stories (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Today: Work continues throughout Venice to keep the city from literally sinking into the water that surrounds it. The associative use of recurring motifs, combined with unorthodox editing techniques, foreshadows key events in the film. in which an estranged couple (portrayed by George Lazenby and Anita Strindberg) investigate the drowning death of their daughter. In Daphne du Maurier's novella it is Laura that wears a red coat, but in the film the colour is used to establish an association between Christine and the elusive figure that John keeps catching glimpses of. Flint instructed his guests to "uncross" their legs, which Roeg subsequently incorporated into the film.
As the story progresses, John repeatedly attempts to account for anything that might threaten his superiority by failing to register on his logical radar: he thinks the sisters are con artists, he tells Laura that the first cry heard in the alley is that of “some drunk” and that the sisters “found a sucker” in her, he thinks the vision of Christine near the table is “damned stupid” simply because “in earthly life she would have been tucked up hours ago in bed,” he ascribes the blind sister’s trance to “epilepsy” rather than a psychic vision and even finds himself agreeing with the policeman’s plausible yet highly unlikely theory that he saw Laura on the canal boat with the sisters because Laura had “a sudden attack of amnesia” and therefore “clung to them for support. Their relationship is full of denial: they come to Venice to get away from the pain of their daughter’s death, and John is willing to let Laura believe anything so long as she is not depressed. The mysterious red-coated figure and its association with death has a direct parallel with an earlier film Roeg worked on as cinematographer, The Masque of the Red Death, which depicted a red clad Grim Reaper character. It has led to some critics re-evaluating their original opinions of it: Roger Ebert, nearly thirty years after his original review, stated that he had come to an "accommodation" with his reservations about what he termed the "admitted weakness of the denouement". Laura (who has not yet learned of Christine’s presence and is therefore still, like John, prone to explain away any oddities she encounters) adds, “They’re a couple of pathetic old retired schoolmistresses on holiday, who’ve saved up all their lives to visit Venice.Daphne du Maurier’s collection Don’t Look Now, published in 1971, contains five frightening tales, including “The Birds. Sutherland ended up doing it instead, and was attached to a kirby wire as a precaution in case he should fall. But later in the story, Christine, according to the blind sister, is worried about her father and the danger that awaits him if he stays in Venice. She is on vacation in Venice with John to get over the death of her youngest child, Christine, from meningitis. As well, when he hears a scream and sees a child running in fear, he never tells Laura about it, even though she is just around the corner.
After Laura finds out about the blind sister’s visions of Christine, she is exuberant and energized and can confess to John that she has been trying to hide her depression from him. Source: Susan Sanderson, Critical Essay on “Don’t Look Now,” in Short Stories for Students, The Gale Group, 2002. After John apologizes for implicating the sisters in his wife’s apparent disappearance, they explain that when he saw Laura with them on the boat he was probably experiencing a premonition. Laura’s eagerness to believe the twin sisters’ stories about Christine makes John uncomfortable at first and then angry later when the twins show up again at dinner.The story was made into a suspense movie a few years after it was published and has remained one of du Maurier’s best-known tales. But when he gets into a room with the “little girl,” she ends up being a “little thick-set woman dwarf.
The film's director, Nicolas Roeg, was intrigued by the idea of making "grief into the sole thrust of the film", noting that "Grief can separate people . Roeg and his collaborators have constructed an intricate, intense speculation about levels of perception and reality. The scene was in fact an unscripted last minute improvisation by Roeg, who felt that without it there would be too many scenes of the couple arguing. Upon coming out of the trance, Heather pleads with her sister to go after John, sensing that something terrible is about to happen, but Wendy is unable to catch up with him.According to the editor of the film, Graeme Clifford, Nicolas Roeg regarded the film as his "exercise in film grammar". Du Maurier’s world does not ask much introspection of readers, only that they come along for the ride. Canby also suggested that second sight was not convincing on screen, since it appeared simply like flash-forward which is a standard story-telling device in films, and concluded that "Not only do you probably have better things to do, but so, I'm sure, do most of the people connected with the film. He continues thinking about the need for humor and jokes, adding, “if we can pick up the familiar routine of jokes shared at holiday and at home … then everything will fall into place.