What do we make of the coincidences, synchronicities, signs, and symbols that appear in our daily lives?
Just the other night as Chicago’s Grant Park Symphony began its outdoor concert, a very tall woman with very high, tightly curled hair rolled by on her mobility scooter, made a sudden right turn, and parked directly in front of me, unapologetically blocking my view.
The next night, I was watching Donald Sutherland in the 1973 classic thriller DON’T LOOK NOW. He was sporting the same sort of big tight curls that the woman had from the night before.
What did it mean to see two such improbable hair-dos in just 48 hours?
I still am wondering, waiting, and watching.
I had seen the film DON’T LOOK NOW by director Nicolas Roeg almost 40 years ago, and I remembered it mostly for three reasons — (1) there was an incredibly hot sex scene (which is still a hot, by the way); (2) that I didn’t understand what happened; and (3) there was a surprise appearance by a freaky dwarf with freaky makeup.
I wanted to see this movie again because I was recently waxing about the stunning and bright beauty of Venice as it was filmed in the 1955 love story, SUMMERTIME. In DON’T LOOK NOW, I remembered that Venice was portrayed as sinister, dangerous, damp, and dark. Which version of the city was right?
And that is the enigma of the narrative in DON’T LOOK NOW. Which version is right? Do we really understand what we are seeing, what we are experiencing? The story, based on a novella by Daphne du Maurier, reminds us that it’s always smart to beware…that the signs are there. But you just may get them wrong.
In a nutshell, the idyllic marriage of John (Donald Sutherland) and Laura (Julie Christie) is shattered by the drowning death of their daughter. Prior to his daughter’s death, Sutherland’s character has a prescient moment and senses that something bad is about to happen. He is too late.
Fast forward past mourning, and the couple is in Venice where John is overseeing the restoration of a cathedral. They meet a duo of sisters, one of whom is blind and possesses the gift of “second sight.” She feels that Sutherland’s character also “has the gift.” And she understands his struggle with accepting this burden. “It’s a curse and a blessing,” she says. She tells the couple that she sees their deceased daughter, who is now with them, and that the little girl is happy, but her spirit is also warning them to leave Venice. John scoffs. But later, when he does give in to this idea of having “second sight,” his interpretation of what he is seeing is dead wrong. The foreboding image he witnessed at the beginning of the film, which he thought was about the danger facing his daughter, was really about a danger facing him.
The atmosphere, the mystery, and the intrigue make it a pleasure to take a look again at DON’T LOOK NOW.
I just have to figure out what the hair thing is all about…..