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.
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.
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.
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.
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