The A to Z Of My Lawyer Will Call Your lawyer : D

An occasional series where Astrid & Nick go through their cinema alphabet

Don't Look Now (1973) Directed by Nicolas Roeg.

I used to know her. The little girl in the red mac. Sharon Williams. Very good friends with my very good friend Dave. She used to manage a shoegaze band (who's name I can't remember). I did ask her about Don't Look Now. She didn't recall so much about making the film. In the late 1980's it's fair to say Don't Look Now was regarded as more of a cult film, most notable for one of the great love scenes in cinema. Over the years the reputation has grown until it reached in some views the top (Time Out magazine voted Don't Look Now the best British film). It's hard to argue in some ways. I'll call it a masterpiece. It's possibly the scariest film too. Red is prominent. 

A daughter drowns in a garden. Shortly after the grieving parents move to Venice (for work reasons) things start to fall apart. Father starts seeing red macintosh worn by daughter at the time of her death dashing round the streets of Venice. But he can never find the illusive figure. It's a tragedy. Don't Look Now is atmosphere. Venice has never seemed so cold and damp and mysterious on film. This Venice is a creepy place. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are the couple, straining from their grief. Yes, their love scene is naturalistic, it's also one of the only things that ties them together here, so deep is their individual depression. Roeg keeps realism to the fore, which in some ways makes the horror more stark. Sutherland and Christie ooze 1970's cool. Everything is falling apart. I don't know how this related to Daphne Du Maurier's original book. Roeg's film does not follow usual horror genre dynamics. Viewing this feels like a dream or a haze. Compared to Don't Look Now, Kubrick's horror The Shining seems so obvious and comical (maybe that was the point of that fim).

Time has been good to Nicolas Roeg. It's possible to consider all his early films as classics. Look what there is: Performance, Walkabout, Don't Look Now, The Man Who fell To Earth, Bad Timing. Most directors don't come near. I love all these films. Don't Look Now has emotion. It's a horror movie that engages in away that horror movies shouldn't. Every sense will become heightened after you have watched this, because you're not sure what you've just seen. As I'm older and am trying to be a responsible parent myself, the death of the daughter resonates with me like it never did before. You can feel the sense of loss the parents will struggle to live with. Don't Look Now is a horror in many ways. Everything Falls apart.

Astrid: Director
My D has to be for Director as this is a movie blog and I should make some attempt to relate to our theme. 
There, now I have, so I can go on about how directing appeals to me for the concept of control and power to oversee everything. I sort of love the character that a director plays in the common imagination of what making movies is
like (I do realize the reality of making films is somewhat different and involves many more people and their creativity, knowledge, organizing skills, relationships and bank accounts). Directors are mini-gods creating and controlling their perfect mini-world. Sometimes they even write the film they then direct, so they can really own every aspect of the story along the way. Sometimes they get fired from their own movie though...(Wizard of Oz had many directors)

Here's an off-the-top-of-my-head list of directors:
Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino, Sam Peckinpah, Spielberg, Kubrick...Why are they all men? At least most directors still are in this day and age. Then I think of Jane Champion, whose movies I love (and we have probably not reviewed any on this blog). I want to hold onto an image of the long-haired Jane visualizing a film like An Angel At My Table while reading Janet Frame's book and then moving slowly but with steady determination from stage to stage into filming and editing. My belief is that the end result is mostly down to her vision – that's the cult of the director. I'm buying it.

When we all know that films are the result of many people coming together and sharing, why are we still so smitten with the director? Sight & Sound certainly is, I definitely am. Is it easier to personify and then conceptualize? Is it more fun to grant some individuals the laurels of genius? Is it my dream to be able to control a little mini-world for a day? A lot of questions in my D. 

BTW: Have you ever really thought about the fact that the latest Batman film (Dark Knight Rises) cost 250 million dollars to make and the world has a problem with starvation?

PS. I know I'm not supposed to say things like the above (too depressing and large scale), but aren't we being absurd and illogical?


  1. I do recall "Sweetie" and "The Piano" with a certain fond respect. I certainly remember "Don't Look Back" and its very eerie ethos: it was a creation by a wayward god against which the viewer tried to fight to maintain any sense of normality and goodness.
    Br-r-r-r! And the use of a little person I found very scarey. Interesting that your post mentioned two films that used smaller people for an iconic effect: "Don't Look Back" as well as "The Wizard of Oz".

    I think the comparison with "The Shining" was appropriate, and it reminds me that even "genius" will experience a regression back to the norm.
    I often thought that "The Shining" fails in those areas where the director most egregiously usurped the rights of the original artist-writer of the material.

  2. Montag, as usual many thanks for your comment.

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