12.02.2016

An epiphany: "Don't Look Now" (III)



Don’t Look Now was composer Pino Donaggio’s first film, and it remains one of his most deeply felt scores, characterized by a repeated piano theme that underscores all of the film’s key moments (including the three major montage sequences).  This theme is used obliquely and ambiguously, in a fashion appropriate to this film so much about misidentification, transference and skewed perspective.  In the film’s opening sequence, it is deceptively linked with the doomed child Christine: it begins as we see a shot of her playing in the yard, and it’s played fumblingly, as if by a child her own age practicing for a lesson.  But in hindsight the tentative nature of the piano technique seems to reflect not the innocent play of a child but the baby steps of John’s awakening precognition.  This scene, after all, is not just about Christine’s death; it also marks the first instance (though he does not recognize it as such) in which John experiences a flash of second sight.  Inside the house, he looks up from his work, having intuitively sensed that Christine has fallen into the pond.  It’s a motif that comes full circle at the end of the film, as, in the moment of his death, John presumably realizes that he had earlier experienced a vision of his own funeral.  The same piano theme returns in this sequence, again played for piano, but now urgently and confidently, as if to convey the blunt force of a too-late epiphany.  It’s as if the seeds planted at the opening of the film have come to flower—deadly nightshade, perhaps.   

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