The Others

The Others
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: May 14, 2002
Running Time: approximately 104 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: Nicole Kidman fights to save her children and her sanity while tormented by ghostly others roaming the house.
Version: Collector's Edition

  • Documentary: A Look Inside The Others
  • Visual Effects Piece
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum: What Is It?
  • An Intimate Look At Director Alejandro Amenabar
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

    Tech Specs: Anamorphic Widescreen, aspect ratio 1.85:1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0, English and Spanish subtitles.

    Every now and then you hear critics pine "they don't make 'em like that anymore." Well, actually, they do. It's just rare that a throwback to classic storytelling actually works, especially when fused with modern filmmaking techniques. But Alejandro Amenabar's The Others works quite well, and if you missed it, you missed one of the best films of 2001.

    At the time of its release it may have gotten more attention for the participation of Hollywood's most famous split-up couple; Tom Cruise produced the film for Nicole Kidman to star. It was a good thing he did, because this is one of Kidman's best roles, in a movie that might not have been made otherwise.

    Kidman stars as Grace, a repressed British mother of two trying to keep her household together in the post-war years. Grace's husband has not yet returned from the battlefields; as long as they don't hear of his death, Grace still has hope. Her children suffer from an intense allergy to light; the slightest exposure to sunlight will cause severe burns. Consequently, Grace keeps the house as shut up and dark as her own emotional state.

    When the film opens, her servants have all abruptly disappeared. Three new domestics, led by Bertha (Fionnula Flanagan), show up as mysteriously as the others vanished. They claim to have worked at the house long before, and are happy to resume their old posts. The only problem is that Grace never actually managed to mail the advertisement for new help. And now her already spooky-looking pale children have begun visiting with an otherworldly boy named Victor.

    Spanish filmmaker Amenabar (Abre Los Ojos) weaves a stately web of unease. Nothing overtly startling happens in the first half of the film, just a growing feeling that something is terribly, terribly wrong. As in some of the most effective of horror films, Kidman's character refuses to accept that anything is happening, until, of course, it's too late. By then, you and she are caught by the clever twists of plot and sheer filmmaking style of the young Spaniard.

    Dimension Films gives the home video release as lush a treatment as possible. Though it's a two-disc set, the first disc has no extras. Instead, the studio packs the disc with as much visual and aural information as will fit, similar to what Columbia has been doing with its "superbit" series.

    As a result, the picture has a rich transfer. Dark amber hues, verging on chiaruscuro, dominate the interior images, but everything remains crystal clear. When the film switches to greys, it feels wintry. The audio possesses a fullness, with great surround effects. Not a note of Amenabar's excellent score gets lost.

    The second disc contains the extras, though they're surprisingly not much. As has become requisite, a behind-the-scenes documentary starts things off. It's longer than usual, though, and definitely complete in its examination of cast and crew, including a brief appearance from executive producer Cruise praising Kidman's performance.

    Though "an intimate look at Director Alejandro Amenabar" is included, the best information about him comes from the documentary, where he actually speaks to the camera and discusses his approach to filmmaking. The intimate look merely consists of long videotaped segments of the actual shooting days, with no commentary or breaks to explain for the camera what is happening.

    Even the visual effects are presented with this "here it is, if you want" technique. A few scenes are broken down with a brief text description, then divided into the shots necessary to create one smooth effect. While it's cool to see that The Others has almost as much unreality as a Lucasfilm, there's no real explanation as to why such composition is necessary.

    A nice touch, though, is the look at the real disease that the children suffer from, done through the perspective of a family whose youngest daughter has it. Xeroderma Pigmentosum, or XP, affects fewer than 100 children in the U.S., but it is potentially deadly. Few victims of it survive into adulthood. It's fascinating and tragic, but seeing the little girl deal with it offers up a strange hopefulness. It may seem at odds with the rest of the material, but if you don't mind a little education, it's well worth watching.

    As is, obviously, the film itself. You may never watch the second disc again, but The Others is definitely a movie for the shelf.

    The Others (currently 25% off at Amazon)

    Derek McCaw


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