Can someone explain the movie Don't Look Now?
January 22, 2013 3:11 AM   Subscribe

I loved the movie "Don't Look Now" (1973) but I have some questions about what exactly was going on. [spoilers follow, of course]

Googling turns up very few answers -- instead there's a lot of ponderous writing about how "there are no real answers" and it's really about "the geography of grief" or tensions in a marriage, and the whole supernatural/horror element is secondary.

I realize there's something to this, but I also want there to also be a coherent explanation of everything that happened. Can you help? Here are some of my specific questions:

1. What's the meaning of the brief shot near the beginning where the blind woman and her sister are alone together and both laughing hysterically? Is the blind woman really psychic or are they running some kind of con?

2. What's the explanation of the extra photo on the dresser in one of the two different rooms they stay in?

3. Is the dwarf in the red cape a real person, a figment of Donald Sutherland's imagination, or an amalgam of the two? (e.g. a single real person who's not actually wearing a red cape, or various strangers who happen to be wearing red or something who he hallucinates into his daughter)

4. In the climactic scene where he's chasing the red caped whoever, he knows it's not really his daughter, right? He never calls this person by his daughter's name and seems to address them as a stranger. So who does he think it is?

5. Is Donald Sutherland actually killed in the way that's depicted on screen? Is the killer (whoever they are, whatever they really look like or are wearing) the serial killer that the police have been hunting?

To be clear, I understand (I think) the larger twist, that he's been having and misinterpreting visions of his own death. It's these details that are still bugging me.
posted by pete_22 to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I realize there's something to this, but I also want there to also be a coherent explanation of everything that happened.

'Coherant' how? It's been awhile, but the movie works on a psychological and a mood level. All those things you mentioned could be manifestations of Donald Sutherland's grief, or premonitions, or coincidences. He could be following the red dwarf because he's in a dream-trance and is following inexorable dream logic.

All those things are explained as the director creating an unsettling atmosphere. That's all that's needed.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:52 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


All those things you mentioned could be manifestations of Donald Sutherland's grief, or premonitions, or coincidences.

Surely not the first two?

All those things are explained as the director creating an unsettling atmosphere. That's all that's needed.

OK, but you could use this to dismiss similar similar questions about The Shining, Donnie Darko, Caché or any number of other cryptic movies that have nonetheless attracted all kinds of detailed theories (from the likes of Roger Ebert) about what was going on. All I'm really asking is whether anyone has theories about what was going on in this movie, even if they're inherently speculative and unprovable.
posted by pete_22 at 4:31 AM on January 22, 2013


Don't know about the first two but IMO:

3. Real.
4. He doesn't know. He sort of realises it couldn't be his daughter, but he has to find out.
5. Yes and yes.

YMMV
posted by Segundus at 5:07 AM on January 22, 2013


In the Daphne du Maurier story the husband character pursues the character in the red hood because he thinks she's a child in danger.
posted by orange swan at 5:46 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


1. I always took that as just deliberately unsettling, the same way Fassbinder, Fellini, and others kept a shot too long, or indeed had their characters laugh maniacally in such an exaggerated way that you want to look around and say "Are you seeing this too?"

It's unsettling--uncanny--and that's the point.

2. I think you are referring to the picture in the sisters' room here. It has been a little while since I watched the film, but I remember thinking it denoted some past tragedy in the sisters' lives--something that connected them thematically with the tragedy that John and Laura have experienced.

3. I think the dwarf is definitely real. There are mentions of a killer in Venice throughout. The interesting element is that while the dwarf is real, it also is the embodiment of John's fondest desire, that his daughter is somehow returned. As mentioned above, if it is another child in peril, he wants to redeem himself and hopes to assuage his crushing guilt by saving that child. There is another possible reading that John, in fact, wants to die.

4. He may know on some logical level that it cannot be his daughter, but he is obsessed and insane with grief. The "other child in peril" explanation works very well here.

5. Yes, definitely. Yes.

Sounds like you enjoyed the film and it was thought-provoking for you. The hallmark of a great film.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:04 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


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