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Film Review- 'The Others' (2001)

Updated on March 3, 2016

Why This Is One Of My All Time Favorite Films!

'The Others' is a purely unforgettable and chilling film that evokes a brooding atmosphere which I find incomparable to any other ghost film I've ever seen before. I find that the ghost film genre is such a difficult one to accomplish for the obvious reason that so many of them come across as unrealistic. However as a huge fan of this genre, I can honestly say that for me, Alejandro Amenabar executes this film in an absolutely flawless manner with outstanding directing skills which by the end of the film had me not only astonished, but believing in ghosts. I will include some of these extremely clever and fascinating directing skills, hints and concepts in a spoiler paragraph at the end entitled 'Spoiler Alert- Directing Hints and Clever Hidden Concepts'. Some of these hints and hidden concepts usually require multiple viewings to actually notice as the viewer needs know the plot of the film to grasp them.

Furthermore, Amenabar portrays the perfect balance of beauty through the presentation of pathos along with haunting screenplay.In taking on three major roles including the composer, writer and director of the film, Amenabar demonstrates incredible skill and this meant that for the first time, I was able to watch a film that consisted of one man's intentions. This is so unique and special because it means that there is no discontinuity and fragmentation what so ever within the cinematography which is a problem with many films. Aside from the fantastic acting of this film, the core and central reason for it's great success is of course due to the very clever story line. The film consists of a mind blowing twist and I believe that many films of this era are missing this in order to create an impact that will prevent the viewer from forgetting the film. As you may have already gathered from my enthusiasm for this film, I thoroughly recommend it. 'The Others' had an impact on me so much so that I felt absolutely compelled to write a review about it.


Basic Film Facts

Director and Writer: Alejandro Amenabar.

Stars and Characters: Grace Stewart, (Nicole Kidman). Mrs. Bertha Mills, (Fionnula Flanagan). Mrs. Marlish, (Michelle Fairley). Charles Stewart, (Christopher Eccleston). Anne Stewart, (Alakina Mann). Nicholas Stewart, (James Bentley). Mr. Edmund Tuttle, (Eric Sykes). Lydia, (Elaine Cassidy). Old Lady, (Renee Asherson). Assistant, (Gordon Reid). Mr. Marlish, (Keith Allen). Victor Marlish, (Alexander Vince). Second Assistant, (Ricardo Lopez). Gardener, (Aldo Grilo).

Year Of Release: 2001

Running Time: 1hr 44 Minutes .

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller.

Budget: $17 Million

Guidance For Viewing: PG-13. Minimal and mild violence and gore, profanity ("damn", "hell") and sex and nudity (a couple are seen in bed together). No Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking. There are many terrifying scenes including screams and a few jump scares.

Awards: 28 wins and 51 nominations. A few of these include a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Screenplay - Original Alejandro Amenabar and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Nicole Kidman. A Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama, Nicole Kidman. A Saturn Award win for Best Horror Film, Best Actress Nicole Kidman, Best Supporting Actress Fionnula Flanagan.

The Plot

It is nearing the end of the second world war and a woman named Grace is awaiting the return of her husband with her two children. Both children have a rare condition of photo sensitivity (xeroderma pigmentosum) meaning that exposure to direct sunlight inflicts pain on them. This causes the family to lead strict, limited and darkened life styles. Time seems to be non-existent due to the isolation of this remote family mansion. In parallel to Grace's headstrong rules and parent tutoring of religion, the arrival of support from three mysterious servants soon causes rules to be broken resulting in unforeseen consequences.

Movie Trailer

Nicole Kidman's Outstanding Dedication To This Role

Nicole Kidman's Outstanding Dedication To This Role

If a picture truly does tell a thousand words, this is definitely one of them with credit to Nicole Kidman's incredible acting skills. In this photo Grace's (Kidman's) expression absolutely reflects the concept of imprisonment that is portrayed by the steel bars. In support of the plot of the film, this photo conveys themes of isolation, stress, mystery and helplessness. These are key themes of the film and It is the combination of these themes which meant that Alejandro Amenabar was able to demonstrate a whole new interpretation of the 'horror' genre. He completely avoids typical scenes of graphic violence and gore which we had come to expect from most horror films. Instead, Amenabar offers a new take on the horror genre by presenting the sheer terror in which mystery can bring, including a result of becoming insane and this is so realistic that it is frightening. To be able to convey such intense emotion in a photograph itself shows how deserving Kidman was to receive her wins and nominations. Whilst Kidman's acting ability is showcased effectively in this role (partly due to the very small cast) her acting is certainly enhanced by the high quality acting of the small supporting cast.

Surrounded by thick fog, the setting of Grace's mansion creates a chilling feeling of isolation.
Surrounded by thick fog, the setting of Grace's mansion creates a chilling feeling of isolation.
Anne playing with a doll, is soon shown to be an old lady
Anne playing with a doll, is soon shown to be an old lady

Spoilers Alert - Directing Hints and Clever Hidden Concepts

Metaphors: Shots of dark hallways with only flickering candles and dull, foggy weather are shown for the majority of the film up until the twist at the end of the film where all is revealed. Following this revelation, there are shots of sunlight beaming in through the house and this sunlight symbolizes the knowledge that the viewer and the house was missing for the majority of the film. Only now does time seem to re-exist as the atmosphere changes. Ironically, when the children become exposed to the light at the end of the film, they appear to be cured, yet we know that they are ghosts by this point.

Subtle Hints Mentioned At The Beginning Of The Film Implying That Grace and The Children Are Dead (which they are): Grace mentions to the servants that the postman has not been for a week and also that they have been in silence for a week because the birds had stopped singing. This implies that Grace and the children had been dead yet not known for a week.

-The concept of the film implies that the place in which someone dies will be the place in which they are trapped and unable to leave so that they haunt their place of death. As with the image above, Amenabar makes this entrapment visual. Furthermore, at the point when Grace attempts to leave the house, the fog prevents her from straying too far away. This concept can be taken even further in realizing that the reason why Charles (Grace's husband) didn't come home was because he died at war and had to remain there to haunt his place of death. Whilst he did come home to briefly see his family, it is suggested that the reason he left again was to haunt the area that he died in.

- Another clever, hidden concept within the film would involve the scene where Anne is seen dressed in a white dress with a veil playing with a doll. Grace leaves Anne to play and when she returns, Anne disturbingly appears as an old lady. Only at the end of the film does the viewer learn the reason for this and it is because it turns out that the old lady had been possessed by Anne.

- At one point in the film, Anne starts breathing very heavily and Grace begins to get mad at her asking her to stop. As Anne carry's on, Grace eventually screams "Stop breathing!" which is a subtle hint of how Grace had actually killed Anne by suffocating her with a pillow.

-My favorite hint of the film would have to be due to the intricacy of it and the attention to detail. It includes the first moment that Grace grabs a shot gun and just before she cocks it, there is a look of deja vu on her face which is ironic since we later learn that Grace killed herself with the shotgun after she'd killed the children. The moment that I realized about this subtle hint (on the second viewing) I found it really quite chilling to see.

Be sure to look out for many more of these subtle hints and metaphors!

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Conclusion

It is the attention to detail which makes 'The Others' really stand apart from all other films of this genre. I believe that a truly great film will take the viewers on a journey with the characters to the point where we feel like a lesson has been learned at the end of it. I feel that this film teaches you to be grateful for what you've got because one moment you'll have everything and the next it may just be gone. I also learnt that in most cases, 'fear' is a mutual emotion and as humans we shouldn't be as fearful as we are sometimes. I almost wish I hadn't seen this film (or at least multiple times!) so that I can watch and experience it all again.

© 2016 Alex

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