'Don't Look Now': Venice in Film

This article was previously published in the special edition, VENICE (July 2019).

‘Venice is like a city in aspic, wrapped over from a dinner party, where all the guests are dead or gone,’ utters an elderly blind psychic around the ninety-minute mark of Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 cult thriller Don’t Look Now. All milky-eyed and with silent footsteps in a peculiar patent green coat, she conjures the image of a city pickled in gelatine. It could also be the island equivalent of Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde menagerie, the antithesis to our loved ones’ gondola clad postcards from summers spent in the city.

Still from 'Don't Look Now', 1973, dir. Nicolas Roeg (Image: Eldorado Films & Studio Canal)

In an issue dedicated to Venice in this poignant year, Don’t Look Now provides the perfect synthesis of the chic, yet gothic sensibility of the Italian city in garish technicolour. Is this anti-advertisement to tourists subtle enough to permit us to slightly peer behind the artifice of the Biennale in our present time? Or is it merely a piece of modernist dislocation, a nod to Roeg’s forebearers: Hitchcock et al?

Draped in the elegant but disturbed eroticism of Roeg’s lens, Don’t Look Now</