Why See The Future If You Can’t Change It?

Why See The Future If You Can’t Change It?

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
DON’T LOOK NOW (Blu-ray)
Optimum Home Entertainment 

Release date: July 4th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 105 minutes
Year of production: 1973

Directors: Nicolas Roeg

Cast: Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie, Hilary Mason

The loss of a child is something none of us should ever have to bear. Whether it’s by accident, illness, wrongdoing or just the will of God, the pain must be unimaginable all the same and I’m sure it’s something parents never “get over”. The emptiness they’re forced to live with each day where the sound of laughter and running feet used to be…

Based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier, Don’t Look Now is a film which has over years earned the status of “cult classic”, not just for its subject matter, but also for its visual and narrative style, heavily inspired by the gothic and the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

Don’t Look Now

It tells of a married couple, John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) and Laura (Julie Christie), who’s daughter, Christine, recently drowned in a lake outside their house. They decide to travel to Venice during the off-season when John gets a contract to restore an old church and they hope that the opportunity will help them deal with what has happened.

While in Venice, John starts to believe that he might have psychic abilities, after all, he was able to sense that something was happening to his daughter when he rushed outside, but it was too late. At a restaurant they meet two elderly sisters; one of them, Heather (Hilary Mason), is blind and psychic and tells Laura that she sees Christine and that she is happy. These events of course put the couple on a dangerous path.


  • Nic Roeg commentary
  • Looking Back (The Making of) Documentary
  • Interview with composer Pino Donaggio
  • Compressed version of Don’t Look Now by Danny Boyle
  • Nothing Is As It Seems
  • Trailer
  • Easter Egg: Tony Richmond playout
  • Interview with Danny Boyle
  • Interview with Allan Scott
  • Interview with Tony Richmond
  • Interview with Donald Sutherland

As Laura gets more and more drawn into believing the sisters have contact with her daughter, she begins to put other things aside; her health, John and even neglects to fly back home when they get news that their son has been in an accident. There is also news of a serial killer on the loose in Venice and John himself is determined to find out what his mysterious visions mean.

Roeg tells his story in an almost non-linear style which fits the plot very well. Images cut back and forth, we see things something all at once, but never completely, only in fragments and only at the film’s end do we then realise, like John, what it all means. It’s of course too late by then for the couple, but for us an audience it’s a horrifying moment and we’re left to decide if these really were psychic visions or a self-fulfilling prophecy. The future is after all changing everytime we look at it.

Don’t Look Now also brings forward questions about belief, will, determinism and fate and when you sit down and think about it, these themes are really quite complex. If you believe it’s possible to see the future, then the idea of determinism comes into play; that we’re all on a set path and nothing we do can change that. On the other hand, if you believe in free will, to what extent are you free to create your path and make your own choices? Ultimately we ask what is the point of having a psychic ability if you cannot change what’s about to happen?

Don’t Look Now

Optimum Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release offers a wealth of special features. There are all-new interviews with Donald Sutherland and writer Allan Scott, lots of documentaries and the compressed version of Don’t Look Now by Danny Boyle that was made for the BAFTA tribute. The picture quality looks much better than on previous releases but you can still tell the film’s age by looking it, there’s no getting around that. Overall, a nice collection of features that I still haven’t finished going over.

While its make-up effects (i.e. spurting blood from a neck wound) and some of the editing styles seems to have aged badly, the film holds a nostalgic charm. There’s something dark, unpleasant and depressing about Venice during its off-season and the mise-en-scène here compliments the natural and at times off-beat performances by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, yet it’s Hilary Mason who steals the scenes with her captivating and bewildering performance as the blind psychic.

About Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.