Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Don't Look Now

UK/Italian movie (1973). Casey/ Eldorado. Pr Peter Katz. Exec pr Anthony B Unger. Dir Nicolas Roeg. Screenplay Chris Bryant, Alan Scott. Based on "Don't Look Now" (1971) by Daphne Du Maurier. Starring Julie Christie (Laura Baxter), Hilary Mason (Heather), Clelia Matania (Wendy), Nicholas Salter (Johnny Baxter), Renato Scarpa (Inspector Longhi), Massimo Serato (Bishop Barbarrigo), Donald Sutherland (John Baxter), Leopoldo Trieste (hotel manager), Sharon Williams (Christine Baxter). 110 mins. Colour.

John and Laura Baxter's daughter Christine drowns, an event of which he has some precognitive knowledge, although he is not aware of his latent Talents. The couple go to Venice, where he works restoring a church; currently a Serial Killer haunts the city. The couple encounters a Duo of weird sisters: Wendy and blind, psychic Heather. The latter warns that John's life is in danger should he remain in Venice; a near-fatal fall persuades him the Prophecy has been fulfilled and he stays. Laura goes home briefly because of son Johnny's illness; in her absence John "sees" her aboard a funeral cortège with the two sisters, and, believing her abducted, brings in the police. But his Fate cannot be avoided. John pursues through the night-time streets a small, scuttling figure whom he believes is the Ghost of his dead daughter. When he catches her he has one last, too-late flash of precognition: a hideous dwarf, she is the serial killer, and almost ruefully she cuts his throat.

This Gothic Fantasy is one of the most frightening – and most beautiful – movies ever made, its climax even more shattering because of the leisurely way in which the menace and the dislocating effect of John's jumbled future and present visions are built up. Its plot is, one realizes afterwards, highly contrived, yet this hindsight observation does nothing to diminish DLN's unarguable power on further viewings. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.