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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

Don’t Look Now

I can’t recall exactly when I first saw Nicholas Roeg’s 1971 thriller “Don’t Look Now.” It’s been recent, I think, might even have been last October as I know when I did see it was during a broadcast on TCM or I recorded it off TCM to watch later. The film, particularly the ending, made a hell of an impact on me when I saw it. It was just as incredible as all I had heard about it leading up to seeing it.

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are a married couple who go on an extended trip to Venice following the death of their daughter. John (Sutherland) is there on a job to help with the restoration of a church, during lunch one afternoon the two meet a pair of sisters, one of whom is blind but has psychic gifts. The clairvoyant sister tells the wife, Laura (Christie), that she’s seen their daughter sitting at the table with them and that she is OK, but is trying to warn them of danger.

John dismisses this immediately as hogwash, though his wife finds comfort in it, but soon John begins to have mysterious sightings himself that lead him to wonder what is going on. To go any further with details of the plot would be to give away the cake, and I don’t want to do that, especially if you’ve never seen “Don’t Look Now.” What I will say is as fascinating as “Don’t Look Now” was the first time I saw it, watching it again on the new 4K UHD blu-ray edition from The Criterion Collection, knowing darn well how it ends, adds an entirely new layer to the film.

I think knowing what lay ahead for me as the film built towards its climax made the creepiness I find in the film’s ending all the more intense, to the point my fear that I could remember feeling watching it for the first time felt doubled. I was feeling so nervous as those final moments crept closer and closer I took my glasses off to blur the screen so I couldn’t see it crystal clear. “Don’t Look Now” is a hell of a movie, a masterpiece of supernatural suspense and, as they state on the back of the packaging, “one of the great endings in horror history.”

Despite my desire to not see the ending crystal clear, this new 4K edition of “Don’t Look Now” from Criterion is just that (how’s that for a transition?). Criterion had issued the film on blu-ray a few years back, but that edition went out of print somewhat quickly. Now, Criterion’s edition is back in print and upgraded as a 4K UHD combo pack, this follows a 4K release overseas from a year or two ago if I’m not mistaken. I didn’t own the previous blu-ray from Criterion, so I can’t compare it against this new one, but I imagine the bonus material is identical.

Let’s start by talking about how it looks. This is sourced from a 4K restoration made by Studiocanal, approved by the film’s director of photography, and sourced from the 35mm original camera negative. This 4K restoration is presented in Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range on the Criterion disc. The film looks incredible. The colors are solid, even though this is more of a muted movie with some of the color palettes, but it’s clear and bright, with a fine layer of grain. The movie looks much better than the time I saw it on TCM when it seemed a little dull and muted.

Bonus materials include a conversation between editor Graeme Clifford and film writer and historian Bobbie O’Steen, a short documentary from 2002, a 2006 interview with composer Pino Donaggio, a program on the writing and making of the film, featuring interviews with Richmond, actors Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, and co-screenwriter Allan Scott, interviews with filmmakers Danny Boyle and Steven Soderbergh, and a Q&A with Roeg from 2003 at London’s Ciné Lumière.

All in all, this is a great package and a must-own for the fans of the film, it’s well-timed too for the Halloween season as few films give me the creeps like “Don’t Look Now” does. As nice as it would have been for just the Criterion edition to come back in print, it’s great they not only did so but also took the chance to upgrade the release to a 4K disc as well. “Don’t Look Now” is a truly chilling film and one that rewards the more you watch it. This one is well worth picking up and adding to your collection. See you next week.


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