The Others (2001)

Watch the trailer!

Original title: The Others  the-others

Country: Spain / USA / France / Italy

Director: Alejandro Amenábar

Screenplay: Alejandro Amenábar

Score / soundtrack: Alejandro Amenábar

Producers: Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner,

Actors: Nicole Kidman (Grace), Fionnula Flanagan (Mrs Mills / nanny), Alakina Mann (Anne), Christopher Eccleston (Charles), Eric Sykes (Mr. Tuttle), Elaine Cassidy (Lydia).

Yesterday I was invited to talk about a film at a friend’s film club. I had to suggest one that none of them had seen before. Given that I was told that the host was a big fan of horror films, I decided to take advantage of this occasion to introduce to them the work of the Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar.

The film chosen was The Others, released back in 2001. Since the discussion after watching it was so great, I thought it would be a good idea to write about it today. In case you have not seen it yet, I fully recommend.

Amenábar also wrote and scored The Others, which is his third feature film. Before, he had already made Thesis (1996) and Abre los Ojos (1997). The first one is a thriller and the second is a science fiction film, whose rights were bought by Tom Cruise that later produced its American version called Vanilla Sky (2001).

After The Others, he also made The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro), in 2004, a beautiful, beautiful film, a true story about euthanasia and Agora (2009), a historical drama starring Rachel Weisz. Now he’s working on a new film called Regression (to be released in 2015).

Now back to The Others.

As I mentioned before, this is a “horror” film, but not a cheap one, not those bloody ones with horrid masks and bad special effects. This is an intelligent, well-written and beautiful horror film.

Produced by Tom Cruise and starring Nicole Kidman, The Others was a big success both in Spain and abroad. It won 8 Goyas (Spain’s National Film Awards), including the Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and the Best Director, being the first English spoken film to win the Best Film in this competition. Amenábar was also nominated for a BAFTA Award of Best Original Screenplay, something quite rare for a horror film.

THE PLOT

The story takes place in the Jersey Island, UK, in 1945, right after the end of the World War II. It is about a woman – a very devout Catholic mother – who lives with her two children in an old creepy mansion. Her husband had gone to the war and was not back yet. Her children suffer from an uncommon disease that does not allow them to be exposed to the sunlight. In order to protect them, she has established a series of crazy rules in the house, locking all the doors, closing all the curtains, and not letting the sunlight come inside. The light, in fact, plays a very important role here.

The film starts with the arrival of the new staff of the mansion: an old nanny, an old gardener and a young mute girl.

Very inspired by Hitchcock, the film is structured on the unseen, on what we, as spectators, cannot see. Amenábar plays constantly with the audience, giving us some clues little by little that might help to understand what is happening in the story. Or not. And that works, because usually what we don’t see scares much more than what we can.

But what I really like about this film is that, instead of overusing the latest filmmaking technology, the director choses to use classical symbols of horror films. The fog, the darkness, the noises coming from upstairs, laughter, instruments that play by themselves, silences, whisperings, etc. And guess what? They still work.

The cinematography is really amazing, reminding Rembrandt’s paintings, with shades, silhouettes, and the darkness as a background, in contrast with some spots of brightness coming from candlelight, or from some weak sunlight. All this creates an atmosphere of tension and suspense.

The Others is not a film about special effects. It is much more about the right cut, the good editing, the right décor, the right costume, the perfect music and the best light.

It is really a good lesson of filmmaking. Beautiful!

Ok, I think I’ve said enough. I don’t want to tell you much more about The Others, because this is the kind of film that has to be seen first and only then discussed.

Don’t forget to pay attention on the use of the light in this film. Why does Amenábar use light in such a way? What does he want to say with it? What does light means to this story?

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

~ by Lilia Lustosa on August 28, 2014.

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