Arts

Cult Movie: Don't Look Now gets the deluxe 4K Blu-ray treatment

A profoundly powerful slice of cinema, Don't Look Now boasts two stunning central performances from Sutherland and Julie Christie
Ralph McLean

Don't Look Now

CONSIDER this, for a moment: When Nicolas Roeg's masterful study of grief, premonition and gloomy foreboding Don't Look Now was unleashed on UK cinema goers in 1973 it came packaged up with The Wicker Man on a double-bill so dark it barely seems possible.

Imagine setting out for a date night with your partner of choice and stumbling upon that glumfest at your local friendly neighbourhood picture house. Quite a thought, isn't it?

On its own, Roeg's stately tale of a married couple (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) who escape to Venice to try and come to terms with the death of their young daughter in a terrible drowning accident only to find anguish and echoes of the past around every watery corner is a beautiful but undeniably bleak experience.

Add a slightly unhinged horror musical about human sacrifice on a Scottish island into the mix and we might just be talking about the most downbeat double bill ever to grace a cinema screen.

The reason I regale you with such unlikely facts is because Don't Look Now has just been given a 4K make-over for Blu-ray by StudioCanal, and it's hard to think of a film that deserves it more.

Based on Daphne DuMaurier's short story of the same title, it's a sensational piece of art that still holds the power to move, scare and unsettle the viewer like very little else in cinema history.

A profoundly powerful slice of cinema that boasts two stunning central performances from Sutherland and Christie, it's a groundbreaker on so many fronts.

There's Roeg's leisurely, unflashy approach for a start. Jumping around through time, the director leaves you unnerved and unsure of where the tale is going to take you next. What could be a mere horror film in other less talented hands is delivered as a film about grieving and the impact of loss on a couple's relationship.

There's also the incredible foreshadowing that Roeg rolls out to enjoy as well. The blood red shine of the little girl's plastic mac seeps through shots adding to that growing sense of unease as you watch.

Then there's the small matter of the film's infamous sex scene – a sequence hacked from Irish prints of the movie upon release, incidentally. The passionate moments of Sutherland and Christie's love-making are inter-cut with images of the couple getting dressed afterwards. It's tender, human and strangely moving.

Finally, and this is important, it's also utterly terrifying at times. Watching Roeg unravel the threads as events race to their truly horrifying climax on the murky streets of wintery Venice is hugely rewarding.

Extras on the new box set are predictably lavish, offering up a glut of documentaries, interviews and script snippets to enjoy. In short, it is the very last word on a truly unique piece of art that still dazzles in its beauty, vision and eeriness.

No sign of The Wicker Man to make the creepy early 70s cinema experience complete, however. More's the pity.

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