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Don’t Look Now (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A couple who recently lost their daughter travel to Venice, Italy, where a blind psychic begins to give them messages from the beyond concerning their daughter.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Don’t Look Now is director Nicolas Roeg‘s (Walkabout; The Man Who Fell to Earth) adaptation of the novella by Daphne du Maurier. It is an atmospheric psychological thriller and horror film featuring the brilliant performances of Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as a married couple in Venice, Italy, coming to grips with the death of their daughter.

It would be foolish to try to pin Don’t Look Now down, its scope is so wide reaching, its visionary style so dense. From the easily picturesque Venetian backdrop, to the tender and shocking for its time love scene between Sutherland and Christie, the film encompasses a wide range of visual and psychological symbolism, touching on religion, the supernatural, death, and blindness.

It follows Laura and John Baxter (Christie and Sutherland), a married couple in Venice after they have lost their daughter to drowning. John has taken on the job of building a church and Laura is along with him, one assumes, to get away from the awful memories at their home in England. In Venice, the couple meet a pair of older women, sisters, one blind who claims she can see and speak to their dead daughter. She also warns that John is in danger if he stays in Italy. He does not believe in any of this, despite his own experiences of what seem like premonitions, but he goes along with Laura’s continuing involvement with the two sisters and further investigations seeing that it seems to make her feel better. But as their stay stretches on and odd occurrences continue, John’s life may very well be at risk.

Don’t Look Now never answers all the questions it poses, but this doesn’t harm the film in any way. Like the best horror/psychological thrillers, it is these lingering questions and oddities that make it even more intense. Also making Don’t Look Now a truly captivating experience is the realistic, palpable chemistry between Christie and Sutherland as a couple coming to grips with the loss of a child. It’s truly human horror not unlike something like The Shining.

  • Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now (1973). Screen grab courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
  • Julie Christie, Hilary Mason, and Clelia Matania in Don't Look Now (1973). Screen grab courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
  • Julie Christie in Don't Look Now (1973). Screen grab courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
  • Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now (1973). Screen grab courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
  • Massimo Serato and Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now (1973). Screen grab courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
  • Don't Look Now 4K Ultra HD Combo (Criterion)

The Video

This Criterion Collection 4K Ultra HD release of Don’t Look Now is taken from the 2019 StudioCanal 4K scan and restoration of the film from the original 35mm camera negative which was approved by director of photography Anthony Richmond. It is presented in 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision HDR.

The film was shot on Eastman 100T 5254 film stock with Panavision cameras and lenses. This is the same film stock that Taxi Driver was shot on, but while there is a similar granularity to Don’t Look Now, it is softer and more diffuse, and tends to look a bit noisier in the darker areas. A lot of this could be down to Roeg’s use of zoom lenses, which is unusual in cinematography but one of the signatures of his style. The image looks natural given these conditions and the source is free from a lot of damage like scratches and dirt. The Dolby Vision grading is subtle, but it does provide some ‘pop’ in streetlights, glisten off the water in canals, and a more vivid red in the daughter’s raincoat.

The Audio

The original mono soundtrack was remastered and included in LPCM 1.0.  It has clean dialogue but limited dynamic range.

The Supplements

In addition to the previously available bonus features on the Blu-ray there is an essay by film critic David Thompson.

Blu-ray Bonus Features:

  • “Don’t Look Now,” Looking Back (1080i; 00:19:25) – This short making-of documentary, produced by Blue Underground in 2002, features interviews with director Nicolas Roeg, cinematographer Anthony Richmond, and editor Graeme Clifford.
  • Death in Venice (1080i; 00:17:30) – In this 2006 interview, produced by Blue Underground and conducted in Venice, composer Pino Donaggio discusses writing the music for Don’t Look Now.
  • Something Interesting (1080i; 00:29:42) – In this piece, assembled from recent interviews, co-screenwriter Allan Scott, cinematographer Anthony Richmond, and actors Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland discuss director Nicolas Roeg and the writing and shooting of Don’t Look Now.
  • Nicolas Roeg: The Enigma of Film (1080i; 00:14:20) – This piece, assembled form recent interviews, filmmakers Danny Boyle and Steven Soderbergh discuss Don’t Look Now, Nicolas Roeg’s directorial style, and his influence on their careers.
  • Graeme Clifford and Bobbie O’Steen (1080p; 00:43:05) – In this conversation, recorded by the Criterion Collection in November 2014, film writer and historian Bobbie O’Steen talks with Don’t Look Now editor Graeme Clifford about working with director Nicolas Roeg and the innovative cutting style used for the film.
  • Nicolas Roeg at Ciné Luimière (1080i; 00:47:34) – This Q7A with director Nicolas Roeg, hosted by film writer Paul Ryan, followed a screening of Don’t Look Now at the Institut français’s Ciné Lumière in London in 2003.
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:03:17)

The Final Assessment

An eerie and complex bit of horror that goes beyond being a mere popcorn flick, Don’t Look Now is one of the true classics of the genre. It shows strong character development, lots of thrills and atmosphere, and many oddities that challenge the intellect. This 4K restoration, undertaken by StudioCanal, approved by the director of photography, and released by Criterion Collection is a superb way to experience this film. Highly recommended for any collectors who do not already own the UK 4K release.


Don’t Look Now is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo October 3, 2023, from the Criterion Collection.

  • Rating Certificate: R
  • Studios & Distributors: Casey Productions | Eldorado Films | D.L.N. Ventures Partnership | Paramount Pictures | The Criterion Collection
  • Director: Nicolas Roeg
  • Written By: Daphne Du Maurier (novel) | Allan Scott | Chris Bryant
  • Run Time: 110 Mins.
  • Street Date: 3 October 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • Primary Audio: English LPCM 1.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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A couple who recently lost their daughter travel to Venice, Italy, where a blind psychic begins to give them messages from the beyond concerning their daughter.Don't Look Now (4K UHD Review)