Monday, August 13, 2012

Carrie

By Sati. Monday, August 13, 2012 , , , , , , ,
Fire walk with me

The biggest challenge for me as the reviewer is not criticizing the movie. It is writing a piece about the film that is essentially perfect. You ran out of superlatives, and soon you realize there are no words to describe greatness of what you have witnessed. True cinematic, legendary masterpiece.

Every director has his best movie. And although Brian De Palma made amazing Scarface and The Untouchables his 1976 Stephen King's novel adaptation Carrie remains unrivaled example of horror masterpiece. Carrie was King's first novel and the movie was made shortly after it was released. King disliked the movie based on The Shining- famous film by Stanley Kubrick, but enjoyed De Palma's take on Carrie, although there are many differences between the novel and film. Carrie is the first film based on King's novel and even though so many of his works found their equivalents in cinema, it remains the best one. King's novels are so popular in cinema for a reason – the story is always gripping and the characters are interesting, vivid and authentic.

The movie follows the story of Carrie White, shy, sweet girl with telekinetic powers. She lives sheltered life with her insane mother, who often locks her in a tiny room and orders her to pray. Carrie doesn't go out except for her classes, doesn't know most of the things ordinary teenage girl knows, barely speaks to anyone and because of all of that she is the target of cruelty and malicious jokes.
I suspect we all knew a person like that – back in school, there was always someone who got picked for soccer team during PE classes last, who wore strange clothes and who get picked on constantly. I think the normal reaction is either to help or to at least feel awful about how such person is treated. And the movie finds that in three characters. The only person who wants to help Carrie openly is her PE teacher. Also one of Carrie's class mates because of feeling guilty for her behavior towards Carrie comes up with a plan that will make the tortured girl happy at least for a moment – she asks her boyfriend to take Carrie to the prom. Unfortunately, the night of the prom when for the first time in her life Carrie will have a taste of real happiness and a reason to smile at last, will end in unimaginable tragedy.

King came up with the idea for the novel when he was a teacher and one day he noticed box with used tampons and pads in girls bathroom. He started wondering what would happen if one of the girls got her first period in the school shower. He based the character of Carrie on two girls he knew - one was shy, strange girl everyone picked on, who killed herself years after school was over. The other was extremely religious girl, who lived alone with her mother and suffered from violent epilepsy attacks. King also read about the girl who had telekinetic powers and it was believed the puberty and the changes in adolescent girl caused it.
Carrie is played by Sissy Spacek, awarded Oscar nomination for her role. It is without a doubt the most unforgettable work by Spacek – despite many sequels and remakes, she remains the true Carrie. Spacek was originally cast as Sue, the girl who wants to help Carrie, but got so mad and determined to play lead role, that she wore her ugliest dress, stuck her hair with cream and made herself look absolutely terrible. She got the part. Her Carrie is fearful and shy at the beginning, than slowly standing up to her mother, gaining confidence, enjoying her success on the prom and finally falling into utter despair. Right after the movie's most famous scene Carrie falls into state of catatonia and utter shock and frenzy – Spacek totally nailed what could potentially come off as ridiculous and laughable. We both feel for her and are frightened of her. You think it's strange you sympathize with Dexter Morgan? You don't only sympathize with Carrie White. You actually root for her, as blood gushes all around.

Margaret White (Piper Laurie, who creates one of the most petrifying mother figures in cinema) is an excellent character, the movie establishes her as demented person, who everyone fears of and chose to ignore her and what's going on in her house. There is one truly chilling scene in the movie - after Margaret made up her mind she is cutting carrots and we don't even see her face. She captures the total insanity and tragedy even only in her movements. Her performance here inspired many future crazy mothers in movies and for a good reason. I suspect there are people like that, insane, fanatically religious, ignored by others out of sheer fear and inability to help them and because of that they are doomed to slowly descent into irreversible madness. The movie shows that they don't hurt themselves the most – the insane hurt those around them in the worst imaginable way. Magaret White has her own world. Carrie has to live in the one that's ours. Alone.
Although the movie was made 35 years ago it still astonishes by how well it's made. The cinematography is visionary. The most shocking and powerful scene of the movie is shot in one long sequence, filled with tension, sense of impending doom and flawless camera work. You get the feeling you're inside the room with Carrie and her classmates, you're flying with the camera, awaiting the horror to begin. The movie combines long shots with quick cuts, split screen somehow amplifies the feeling that there is no escape and that Carrie will get her revenge. Some of the effects were interestingly achieved - when Carrie flips a car, the interior shot shows passengers spinning along with it. This effect was not achieved by actually rotating the actors in a car but by simply spinning the film frame in post production.

The final scene was actually shot in reverse – Amy Irving was walking backwards, along with the light and the music the scene looks and feels like a dream. There are many visual similarities in the movie, the most unforgettable one being the pose of Margaret and the similarity to the statue of Jesus. I doubt if this movie could be made any better using modern technologies. It's all about the feel of it – isolation, loneliness, revenge and the score by Pino Donaggio (along with “Suspiria” soundtrack my favorite music from horror movie) that frames it all with enchanting, fairy-like sounds. It's almost hypnotic. And the cinematography is so gorgeous that you could watch the movie over and over again, only to admire it.
Carrie is not only emotionally powerful and extremely well made - it mixes elements of intense fear, heartwarming pity and genuine sadness. Decades after it was made Carrie still captivates the audience and petrifies, not because of the blood and the screams, but because of human cruelty we get to see in the movie and we sense is present everywhere around us, because at one point of our lives, I suspect, we all experienced it.

The movie leaves us with moral issues – can anyone condemn Carrie for what she did? Can we justify it? What Carrie does is horrible, worse than what her classmates did on the prom. But everyone knew about Carrie's situation. The teachers knew about potentially dangerously sick mother and they stood by, doing nothing at all. Indifference may be even worse than cruelty, when someone is hurting and other people look the other way. It's no wonder Carrie was a ticking bomb. And the moment she sets off is forever burnt in viewers' minds and the history of cinematic greatness. And for the record, as much as the ending is predictable, I still remember seeing this film at the age of 13 and jumping to the roof during the final scene. Genre-defying masterpiece, one that's yet to be matched.
Carrie (1976. 98 min)
Plot: The story of Carrie White, a girl brought up, almost in isolation, by her psychotically religious mother Margaret. After an embarrassing incident in the showers causes her fellow pupils to tease Carrie ruthlessly, her teacher disciplines them severely. Determined to have revenge, the other students hatch a plot against Carrie, which turns horribly wrong.
Director: Brian De Palma
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Lawrence D. Cohen
Original Music: Pino Donaggio
Cinematography: Mario Tosi
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie and Amy Irving

24 comments:

  1. Dude. The Spacek eyes. No one else could possibly be Carrie (the real Carrie that is... bloody Moretz).

    I love this film. I guess the first time I saw it, I was mostly in love with the loudness and the craziness and brilliance of the prom scene. But on subsequent viewings, I have come to realize that this film is so, so much more. Margaret White is the mother from hell. She is so scary. Both Spacek and Laurie are just spectacular, and I do really really love this film.

    Great post :D

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    1. Absolutely.

      Thank you, I'm glad you love the movie so much. The idea to remake it is one of the most ridiculous decisions in Hollywood ever made.

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  2. "Carrie" is a masterpiece of horror cinema (and excellent movies have been made for decades--it shouldn't be surprising that a film 35 years old is well made, and some can argue that recent films are worse in quality than older ones). My only quibble with the film is the completely unnecessary and bewildering scene where Tommy and his friends are trying on tuxes and the film speeds up comically. Apparently De Palma tried used a similar scene in a previous movie that no one saw and he really wanted to include it in a movie that would guarantee an audience. I'm curious how Kimberly Pierce is going to handle the remake and if it could possibly be anywhere near as powerful as the original.

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    1. Yes, btu with the progress of technology even the film that were well made pale in comparision to some of the new ones, that's just the way it is. So it is very much surprising that some of the techniques used in a movie this old manage to be imrpessive and unique in this day and age.

      The remake will be nowhere near this, that is something that I'm saying with complete conviction. the casting of Moretz was nail to that coffin.

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  3. I love Carrie, and I'm kind of horrified that they are remaking it with Chloe Grace Moretz of all people. It will never hold a candle to this.

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    1. Absolutely. There are at least 10 actresses who would be better suited for that remake which is unnecessary to begin with.

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  4. Wow! What an outstanding review -- incredibly eloquent and detailed. You're a terrific writer.

    I don't remember this movie very well, but I do remember how chilling the mother was. You did a great job of analyzing why her character worked so well.

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    1. Thank you so much, this is so kind!

      Yes, she is very scary and definetly a memorable character. Pretty much the only thing I want to see in a remake is how Julianne Moore will handle that role.

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  5. Wow, I was just on youtube watching some documentaries on Carrie and thinking how much I should rewatch this. Now, after reading this awesome review I really wanna rewatch it.

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    1. Thank you, this is the kind of film that can be rewatch many times for sure, it's perfect!

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  6. Brilliant! This movie is so awesome. It's always nice when a stylized horror film has great performances with it.
    I thought Chloe Grace Moretz handled herself quite well in the remake Let Me In, but Spacek will always be Carrie.
    Great call on the Suspiria soundtrack too!

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    1. Thank you, glad you like this movie! I liked Moretz in Let me In but she is all sorts of wrong for Carrie.

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  7. Darn... still haven't got myself to see this yet. Better do it soon because I don't want my first memory of this film to be the upcoming remake...

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    1. Oh definetly watch this one before the remake hits!

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  8. The final scene is just sooo eerie... I mean, you just feel for Carrie and boy, don't her classmates feel sorry for what they did to her. No doubt the scariest scene about school prom ever filmed! I think what made it more terrifying thatn anything else was Spacek's deadpan expression, gives me chills!

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    1. Yes, Spacek really nailed it! I have no doubt what Moretz will do will be absolutely laughable, she barely made it work in Let me In.

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  9. I haven't seen Carrie, but let me just say my favorite De Palma work is by far "Blow Out".

    Anyone else here able to back up me up on its greatness?

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    1. Blow Out is great and De Palma ha smade several awesome films, but as a horror fan Carrie will probably always be my number 1 by him :)

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  10. Sati, I actually just saw this for the first time a few weeks ago.... o man what a great horror flick. I had read the story back in high school but had somehow never seen the film. Nice to see a great adaptation of a King story.

    I see people mentioning a remake, pretty sure there is one already available on Netflix, but I have never streamed it.

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    1. So glad you liked the movie, it's such a great scary experience watching it for the first time ever!

      Oh there are many remakes, sequels etc the problem with the new one is that it will probably be more well known then those that exist and barely anyone bothered with.

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  11. Great review. I love this movie, but for a good part of it, I was plain bored. It didn't seem particularly exciting. But once that scene came, the rampage, I was hooked. Carrie creates one of the creepiest/eeriest scene ever.

    I actually talk about that scene in depth in my review. I would love it if you had the time to check it out and give me some feedback.

    http://horrormoviemedication.blogspot.com/2013/02/carrie.html

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  12. I thought I would write a review but I kinda feel all I could do would be to quote you. Everything you said is gold, and I love the bit about Spacek's casting - and she was so perfect as Carrie (THE EYES!!), I'm so glad she went the way.

    And now I really-really don't want to see the remake and I'm definitely not watching it for another few months because I want to have anyone shit all over this perfection.

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    1. She was so amazing. Both her and Piper really created immortal performances.

      Both remakes pale in comparison but 2002 is at least the version that is most faithful to the novel. The new one is just...unnecessary.

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  13. Hi,

    I love Carrie, the original film.

    One of my favourite scenes is the dinner scene when the mother suddenly throws her drink in Carrie's face when Carrie brings up maybe going to the prom. The reaction from Sissy Spacek is brilliant and the simple scene says so much: Carrie is used to this kind abuse, has been for years... it is so heartbreaking.

    Didn't like the remake, totally pointless. Might comment on your blog there too. :-)

    Great movie website!

    Best of luck with it!

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