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Don’t Look Now
Dr Steve Gaunson
RMIT University
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...
55 pages
This short is around 55 pages.
Half the length of a novella
This seems a pretty good length for feature
adaptatio...
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
Fem...
Adjustment
Adjusts, changes, and alters the source
without losing the sentiment.
Water becomes a stronger theme in the fil...
Revision
Revisions seek to alter the meaning and
spirit of the source
Red coat doesn’t have the same meaning in the
story
...
Celebration
Heavy reluctance to change the exact words
or sentiment of the source.
Tale about images, framing and cutting ...
Colonisation
The adapter puts their own unique style on
the source.
Great similarity to Roeg’s other films Walkabout and T...
Final Thought
Daphne du Maurier really liked the film —
because Roeg never went from the sentiment of
the story
The film i...
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Don't Look Now

Adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's short story

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Don't Look Now

  1. 1. Don’t Look Now Dr Steve Gaunson RMIT University
  2. 2. 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 stories The film shows the backstory
  3. 3. 55 pages This short is around 55 pages. Half the length of a novella This seems a pretty good length for feature adaptation. It can tell its story in some detail — and focus on the characters 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
  4. 4. Encourages the reader to become a viewer — and think about it as a cinematic work
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. Adjustment 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 Venice 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 old church) John has a real purpose to be in Venice Not tourists
  7. 7. Revision Revisions seek to alter the meaning and spirit of the source Red coat doesn’t have the same meaning in the story 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
  8. 8. Celebration 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 future. The story is far more linear.
  9. 9. Colonisation The adapter puts their own unique style on the source. 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
  10. 10. Final Thought Daphne du Maurier really liked the film — because Roeg never went from the sentiment of the story 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.

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