Still grappling with the loss of their daughter in a drowning accident outside their English home, Laura and John Baxter move to Venice to work on a church restoration project. There they meet two elderly women, one of whom claims to be clairvoyant and declares that their dead daughter is trying to communicate an impending danger. John dismisses these warnings but soon starts seeing strange visions himself.
Based on a story by gothic writer Daphne du Maurier (author of Rebecca and “The Birds”), Don’t Look Now (1973) is hard to classify under one genre. Is it a drama, a horror story, or a psychological thriller? While the film deals with the occult and adopts some horror conventions, director Nicolas Roeg wanted to make “grief into the sole thrust of the film” in order to explore how “grief can separate people . . . Even the closest, healthiest relationship can come undone through grief.” To do so, Roeg uses editing to fracture time such that present, past, and future appear to converge in the film’s critical moments.
In this seminar, we will discuss adaptation by comparing the film to its source material while analyzing the techniques that make Don’t Look Now unforgettable: visual and aural divergence, aural match cuts, unsynchronized sound, montage images, and the surprisingly creepy use of the color red, which makes us wonder if we’re starting to see things, too.