The story begins with a couple John and Laura Baxter (played by Julie Christie and John Sutherland respectively) who lose their daughter Christine due to her drowning in a pond. She was wearing a red coat at the time.
|Fig 1: Don't Look Now Movie Poster|
The mother, Laura, finds it hard to cope with the loss of her child and the couple move to Venice as John gets a job to restore a church.
In a restaurant in Venice, Laura meets two sisters, one of whom is psychic. She tells Laura that her daughter is still among them and proves the accuracy of her vision by describing Laura's daughter to her perfectly.
Laura tells of her experience to John, who refuses to believe her. The couple keeps running into the sisters again, throughout the course of the film. A parallel plot line suggests a murderer who is on the loose.
|Fig 2: Laura and John's child in a red coat|
The cinematography of this film leaves a lot to be desired. It contains the look of a home made movie with the grainy film and the out of focus shots. However, that adds to the mysterious and paradoxical nature of the film.
|Fig 3: The Wanted Murderer|
Towards the end, it is made clear that John has a psychic power of his own where he can see his own future. He witnesses his funeral without knowing that it is his funeral and chases after a red hooded figure of a child thinking that that is his dead daughter. On cornering this figure, he realizes that it is the wanted killer. The murderer slits John's throat and kills him.
The things that we lose, have a way of finding us when we least expect it and stabbing us in the heart.
Don't look now is a dark movie with a soundtrack that is positively cheerful. The contrast in the emotions of the two, instills a feeling of discomfort among the audience. As Damian Cannon states, " Much of this discomfort stems from Graeme Clifford's editing, though that barely begins to describe the warp of this particular film. Sounds fade in and out, magnified and brought forward, then diminished to a whisper." Cannon, Damian. (1999). Film.U-Net.com. Don't Look Now (1973) Even the weather in the movie is perpetually gloomy. There is not a single scene where there is a ray of sunlight.
|Figure 4: The funeral of John that John foresees.|
All this could be done to draw attention to the red coat of the late child and the killer. As reviewer Peter Bradshaw rightly states, "In Don't Look Now, Roeg is careful to exclude, as much as possible, the colour red from his screen, so that Christine's red mac becomes even more starkly visible." Bradshaw, Peter. (2011). The Guardian. Don't Look Now and Roeg's red coat.
Bibliography and Illustration List
Wood, David. (2001). BBC Films review. Don't Look Now (1973). Available online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/03/05/dont_look_now_1973_review.shtml (Accessed 4th December 2011)
Bradshaw, Peter. (2011). The Guardian. Don't Look Now and Roeg's red coat. Available online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jan/18/dont-look-now-red-coat (Accessed 4th December 2011)
Cannon, Damian. (1999). Film.U-Net.com. Don't Look Now (1973). Available online at http://www.film.u-net.com/Movies/Reviews/Dont_Look_Now.html (Accessed 4th December 2011)
Figure 1: Roeg, Nicholas. (1973). Don't Look Now http://www.impawards.com/1973/dont_look_now.html
Figure 2: Roeg, Nicholas. (1973). Don't Look Now http://houseofmirthandmovies.wordpress.com/2008/09/26/dont-look-now-roeg-1973/
Figure 3: Roeg, Nicholas. (1973). Don't Look Now http://theringmastersrealm.blogspot.com/2011/01/dont-look-now-1973.html
Figure 4: Roeg, Nicholas. (1973). Don't Look Now http://nehpetstephen.blogspot.com/2010/10/dont-look-now-1973.html