Chilling performances by Nicole Kidman and Fionnula Flanagan have propelled this critically acclaimed Oscar winning film straight to the top of the box office.
This film is billed as a “horror film”, but unlike many blockbuster Hollywood films, it isn’t repeated frights with a very weak plot linking them; instead the director has worked very closely with the writers to create a very clever film which makes you think, not jump. The film uses lighting and music to build up suspense. The film is set in a typical gothic horror house on the mist-strewn island of Jersey. The writers have presented the director with a gift; the children of the house where the film is set are allergic to light, the means the house curtains have to always be closed and the house for ever shrouded in darkness. The only light is cast by the old lanterns which create eerie shadows and play tricks with the eyes. The director has used this very effectively to make the audience’s eyes play tricks on them and make them see things, which aren’t really there. This has been used very effectively as can be seen in the “wardrobe” scene, a full technical analysis of this scene can be found later in the magazine.
This film lets you build your own ideas about ghosts and death instead of thrusting Hollywood’s interpretations of them into your face. Before this film was even released one of the main talking points is the certificate of the film, it is a 12. As appose to normal horror film which are of a much higher certificate. The main reason for this is the fact that the film is a completely different genre to any film seen before. It is a clever film which builds up suspense by using music and lighting. The main reason this film isn’t as 15 or 18 is that there isn’t any gore in the film, you don’t see and evil happenings they are all imaged. You can make this film as scary as you like, if you believe in ghosts than this film can be very scary because you get completely engrossed in the film. If you detach yourself from the film and watch it as an outsider then you can find the film very entertain but not scary.
The best played parts of this film are the two main characters, Grace Stewart Nicole Kidman and Mrs Mills Fionnula Flanagan; they are both very different characters. Nicole Kidman has been very well cast because Grace, her character is a very straight laced and everything about Nicole fits this role. Everything from her posture to her voice is exactly how the character should be played. Grace is a very restrained person who wears very tight restraining clothes, and talks in a quite high pitched, but quiet voice. As Nicole Kidman is a tall thin she wears long dresses that are tight and very high necked. These clothes are very restricting and they give you any insight to the personality of whom is wearing them. Everything about Grace is a very controlling, in fact she is somewhat of a control freak, and when the ghosts do invade Graces houses, and she loses control of the house, and what is going on around her then she goes mad because she can on longer control her surroundings.
On the other hand there is Mrs Mills who is a completely different character. She is by for more of a mother to the children than Grace is. She is a very maternal women, she always dresses in very Victorian black servant clothes. This is a very clever pointer to the outcome of the film, because at the dÃ©nouement of the film you realise that the clothes are Victorian and they match the age in which Mrs Mills lived. Unlike Grace, Mrs Mills has a very calming soft voice, whereas Grace’s voice is a complete contrast, it is a sharp, high pitched monotone voice. Mrs Mills is also much more motherly towards the children, for example when Grace shouts at Anne and sends her to her room she instead runs to Mrs Mills who comforts her. This shows up the stark contrast between the children’s relationship with their mother and their nanny. Mrs Mills has also accepted the fact that she is a ghost, and doesn’t have a problem with it, so she is much calmer about all the sounds and strange happenings around the house.
On the whole this is a quiet complex film with many turns in the plot, it will take a quick whited viewer to keep up, but if you want more than your normal Hollywood horror film then this is a must see.
Here is a technical analysis of the “wardrobe” scene in The Others.
Black text is the camera shot. Red text is the sound.
The children are running away from the “intruders”. They go and hide inside a wardrobe.
Silence apart from a quick whispered conversation between Anne and Nicholas building tension and fear
Big Close Up B.C.U on Anne
Cut to B.C.U of Nicholas
Two cuts between close ups of Anne and Nicholas
Lots of rapidly cuts between Anne and Nicholas following their conversation
Silence except from breathing
There is the sound of frightened breathing and the audience can’t tell if it is inside, or out of the wardrobe
Close up of both Anne and Nicholas
Audience and children wonder who is breathing, It appears as if it is Nicholas. Audience and children can’t decider if it is inside or outside the wardrobe. Voice outside wardrobe saying “come with us”, it is a very calm quiet voice. Audience think it is one of the intruders
The breathing becomes heavier, everyone is listening intently to the breathing
Slight tracking shot from Nicholas to Anne
Sudden high pitched loud scream from Anne and banging of wardrobe door
Cut to low angle, point of view shot from Anne and Nicholas of the old woman that is the medium that has flung open the wardrobe doors.
Four zoom shots from point of view of Anne and Nicholas one after the other, this maximises the dramatic effect.
Cut to medium close up of old woman
Close up of a screaming Anne
Tracking shot of Anne
Grace gasping in shock reacting to Anne’s scream
Cut to high angle shot of Grace from the top of the stairs