Finite Focus: Beyond The Fragile Geometry of Space (Don’t Look Now)

Dont Look Now One-SheetNicholas Roeg‘s delightfully heavy-handed horror-thriller is one of those films that does not get as much love as it deserves. Much like John Frankenheimer‘s Seconds, it is too difficult, earnest and unwieldy to drop into any specific genre and flirts around the edgier side of cinema. The fact that this film is likely as strong today as it was in 1973 is a testament to the quality film-making and overall lush aesthetics on display.

The blood, the water, glass and the foggy morning are all underscored by a large amount of cross-cutting, which sets up a lot of the visual motifs that the film will keep spinning around when the story moves to Venice. This Finite Focus is the opening scene of the film, and damn, it’ll make you want to find and watch the film right away if baroque horror-thrillers (Dario Argento, Guillermo del Toro, Lucky McKee) are your thing. Don’t Look Now is a very influential film, certainly from a film-school point of view, this is a great modern example of Sergei Eisenstein‘s theory of cross-cutting and indoctrinating emotion via cutting and shifting imagery (see also the three films from Darren Aronofsky who I am guessing is a big fan of Eisenstein.) Steven Soderbergh has cited the films very graphic and experimental sex scene (which uses great intercutting like the below scene) as his inspiration for a previous Finite Focus scene from Out of Sight. Lastly, and this is just a guess mind you, but the little girl running around in Schindler’s List has to be a nod to Don’t Look Now. As you can see from the scene below, Roeg‘s choice of muted browns and subdued greens make the bright red rain-coat (and any blood) jump out of the composition. I love the boy fixing his bike in this scene with the little girl far, far in the background, like a blot of blood. And the hint of premonition via the actions shown on screen, but in particular Donald Sutherland‘s facial expression and action are to be explored for the rest of the film.

The scene below truly is one of those iconic opening scenes that are to be celebrated in challenging and rewarding cinema.

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Rusty James
Guest

I finally saw Seconds ove the holiday. Interesting film, the lineage of so many films can be traced back to it; DePalma, Polanski other ones I can't think of right now. I got tired of it before it was over.

Rusty James
Guest

okay, i;ll give it another try.

Another Mike
Guest

Don't Look Now is deliciously fucked up.

Kurt
Guest

Another Mike – in some cases, quite literally 🙂

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