Thursday, December 1, 2011

DON'T LOOK NOW: ANTICHRIST 25 YEARS BEFORE ANTICHRIST

I had 'Antichrist' on heavy rotation a while back (still not sure how I was able to watch that movie so frequently), and it hit me that 'Antichrist' is very similar to Nicolas Roeg's 'Dont Look Know'. This may not be a huge revelation to some of you, but for some reason the comparison between the 2 films didn't hit me right away. In the era of creepy/demon/ghostly children films like; 'The Omen' (1976), 'The Exorcist' (1973), and 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968), Nicolas Roeg's 'Dont Look Now' (1973) may not be "the best" out of the aforementioned films (although it does maintain a heavy cult status), but the one thing it has on all the other movies of its kind is that it focused on the (realistic) horror of losing a child. Sure 'The Exorcist', 'Rosemary's Baby' and 'The Omen' focused on parents trying to cope with the horror of having a possessed or evil child, but 'Dont Look Now' focused on the realistic marital problems that come after the loss of a child (Nicloas Roeg just kinda disguised it in the form of a Roman Polanski influenced psychological thriller/borderline horror). Its one of those films where you find yourself asking; "Is this a horror movie? (all the creepy imagery) is it a drama? (the death of a child and the marital problems that follow after it) or a thriller? (the suspenseful music, the lighting and the editing)"
In the film, "John" (Donald Sutherland) and "Laura" (Julie Christie) are a married couple still trying to get past the death of their daughter who drowned a little while back. During a trip to Venice (John, an architect, is in Venice to restore a church) they cross paths with a blind woman and her sister who claim that they can still see their dead daughter. Naturally this upsets the couple but as the movie progresses, John starts to have visions of his daughter to the point where starts to believe he really sees her. At the same time, Laura forms a relationship with the psychic sisters and at one point in the film they perform a seance/ritual to try and speak to Laura's daughter from the dead. Through the seance they're able to reach the daughter who warns Laura that John is in trouble. Like Nicolas Roeg's other films ('Bad Timing' & 'The Man Who Fell To Earth), there's a side story/subplot involving a serial killer. This part of the story connects with the everything at the very final scene of the film.
As far as other comparisons outside of 'Antichrist' go, even though Stanley Kubrick was already very established by the early 70's, there seems to be some striking similarities between 'Dont Look Now' and 'The Shining'. Not to say Kubrick stole anything from Nicolas Roeg, but i rarely hear anyone mention these two films in the same sentence...

'Dont Look Now'



'The Shining'



The combination of the psychic
character from 'Dont Look Now',
along with the "glare" shot is very
reminiscent of  'The Shining' and its
psychic elements...



This scene from
'The Shining' is very similar to the
scene on the left in that they show
our psychic character in a trans-like/
glare shot


With 'Antichrist', the similarities are almost uncanny. Outside of the basic plot that i already mentioned (a psychological thriller/border-line horror film about a married couple trying to get past the loss of their child), both films dabble with religious elements: in 'Dont Look Now', Sutherland's character is hired to renovate a church. Because of that, the presence of God & religion are always in the back of our heads. In 'Antichrist', besides the obvious title, Charlotte Gainsbourg's character starts to delve in to a "religion" of her own (is witchcraft a religion?). In both films, the wife of the grieving couple dabbles with the supernatural behind the husbands back. In 'Dont Look Know', Julie Christie has a seance to try and speak to her dead daughter, while Gainsbourg is studying to essentially become a witch in 'Antichrsit'. Both films also feature un-edited graphic sex scenes as well as similarly startling scenes that are edited in the same fashion (the fox scene from 'Antichrsit' vs. the final scene in 'Dont Look Now'). There's no way 'Dont Look Now' didn't pop in to Lars Von Trier's head while writing and/or filming 'Antichrist'...

'Dont Look Now'



'Antichrist'



'Dont Look Now'





'Antichrist'



'Dont Look Now'



'Antichrist'


'Dont Look Now' may not have the same cult status as 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' or be as powerful as 'Bad Timing' (Nicolas Roeg's masterpiece about a tortured relationship which seemed to mirror lead actor; Simon Garfunkle's real life at the time), but in my opinion its still a great film full of startles, (a few) thrills, sensuality and Nicolas Roeg's trademark/cutting edge editing style which is both disorienting (perfect for a psychological thriller) and ahead of its time. If you have yet to see this and are a fan of some of the other stuff I mentioned earlier ('The Exorcist', 'The Omen', 'The Shining', etc) chances are you'll enjoy this very much.



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