Don’t Look Now
Dr Steve Gaunson
Adapting a short
A short doesn’t have the scope to do everything
a novel can
It has to imply a lot without explaining
This is why horror short stories often work better
than fleshed-out novels
Some of the best horror films are based on short
The film shows the backstory
This short is around 55 pages.
Half the length of a novella
This seems a pretty good length for feature
It can tell its story in some detail — and focus on the
Think of John pondering how he will tell the police the
truth about his wife’s whereabouts
The short story feels like a character story — more
than genre piece
A shorter length wouldn’t have had this luxury
Encourages the reader to become a viewer — and
think about it as a cinematic work
Imitation — Updates certain aspects of the source
while refusing to change others.
Daphne du Maurier and Nicholas Roeg
Female author – male director
Is there a issue with this?
Would it have been more successful if a female directed this?
Criticism for the film: Roeg ‘feminised’ the story by making it
a love story between husband and wife
The film gives Laura a POV
The love scene
Always a distance: John (American), Laura (British)
Roeg’s film has a kinder setting
Do you agree? Is this a problem?
Does it shift from its chiller element?
The film is a family melodrama
Adjusts, changes, and alters the source
without losing the sentiment.
Water becomes a stronger theme in the film
Christine drowns — doesn’t die from meningitis
Watching this give us more empathy/sympathy with
Laura and John
Water means death – body pulled from the water in
Water is connected to tragedy.
It seems odd that they would choose Venice — which
is why Roeg makes it part of John’s job (to restore an
John has a real purpose to be in Venice
Revisions seek to alter the meaning and
spirit of the source
Red coat doesn’t have the same meaning in the
Christine wears a prominent red coat
Connects to the red coat seen in Venice.
John isn’t chasing a little girl — but ghost. He’s
trying to save his daughter
Red is also associated with the city of Venice
Red becomes the colour of death
Heavy reluctance to change the exact words
or sentiment of the source.
Tale about images, framing and cutting is told by
images, framing and cutting.
The story ‘sees’ images – the film ‘shows’ images.
In the film people are shown watching, but what
they watch is frequently unsettling (story doesn’t
have the scope for this)
The film is centrally interested in its sounds and
images between the cutting of past, present, and
The story is far more linear.
The adapter puts their own unique style on
Great similarity to Roeg’s other films Walkabout and The Man
Who Fell To Earth
Think of cutting and sounds
Rapid shots infuse Venice with John’s fear, imprionsing the
viewer behind bars and screens
Frequently the camera is placed literally within Venice’s
underworld positioned at obscure, low angles (as if he is
being watched from the below)
Venice becomes more than a backdrop and location
Venice is out of season – dead of winter
It’s not Venice the prepackaged work of art
Think how differently this Venice is to The Tourist
Daphne du Maurier really liked the film —
because Roeg never went from the sentiment of
The film is about fleshing out the motifs and
themes from the story
A story about not being in charge of one’s fate
It’s equally a celebration and adjustment – for it
is both literary and cinematic
It’s adjustments are to bring attention to how
simply and poignant the short story actually is.