The canals of Venice. That red coat. The "real(?)" sex scene. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. Nic Roeg's 1973 masterpiece Don't Look Now has never looked better than on Optimum's brand new digital transfer for blu-ray.
Grief, third sight and premonitions all play out in a hallucinogenic account of a middle class couple's escape from the tragic drowning of their little girl in a supposed work/break in the mysterious realms of Venice. A stay in a hotel with an apparently clairvoyant (and very creepy) blind woman, and her protective sister, does little to console the pent up mourning wife, Laura Baxter (Julie Christie), as husband John (Donald Sutherland) throws himself into his church ceiling restoration job whilst becoming fixated that his daughter is still alive, and running around the catacomb-like ancient narrow streets and sideways of the damp, haunted city. "Nothing is what it seems," he says. And he's right.
If Performance, The Man Who Fell To Earth and Walkabout are visionary, Roeg's very cinematic adaptation of the Daphe Du Maurier short is certainly his most realised. Conveyed equally by Tony Richmond's cinematography, Pino Donnaggio's score and Graeme Clifford's imaginative editing (especially the sex scene), Don't Look Now is guaranteed to sadden, scare and amaze. The cheap thrill The Exorcist was made the same year, but Roeg's cinematic vision, rather than throwing buckets of blood and vomit at the screen, heightens the senses. There’s no need for a 360 degree revolving head, crucifix masturbation and blasphemous pubescents here – and the shocks, when they come, are far more disturbing.
Not only is this one of the best British horror films (it if can classified as such), it is also one of the very best British films ever. The red coat and final sequence having become ingrained in the memories of all who have seen it, and paid homage to in so many later pieces (Submarine for one).
Extras on the blu-ray include Danny Boyle's compressed version of Don't Look Now and a slew of interviews with the creative force behind the original. Jon 'Mojo' Mills