Sissy Spacek as Carrie White in the 1976 film adaptation.
|Last appearance||Carrie (2013 film)|
|Created by||Stephen King|
In every adaptation and portrayal of Carrie, she is portrayed as a high school outcast, loathed, taunted and bullied by her classmates and her mother Margaret White, an abusive, mentally ill and unstable religious fanatic. At the age of seventeen, she has her first menstrual period in the showers at school, awakening her dormant telekinetic and telepathic abilities. After being humiliated in front of the entire school during the prom, in a cruel prank involving pig's blood, an enraged Carrie uses her powers to massacre her classmates and the entire town of Chamberlain, Maine.
Carrie White is blonde-haired with brown eyes, full-figured, has acne, and is considered unattractive, though she is described as having been very pretty as a little girl. Carrie is shy, lonely and isolated; the closest thing she has to a friend at school is fellow student Sue Snell, who pities more than likes her. Her mother Margaret, a religious fanatic, throws her into a "prayer closet" whenever she misbehaves.
All her life, Carrie has had incredibly strong telekinetic abilities, usually evident in childhood incidents. As a baby, she had closed a window and had dangled her own bottle above her crib. When she was three years old, she witnessed her teenage next door neighbor sunbathing and asked about her breasts. Her mother hit Carrie for asking about such a matter. While she was inside, Carrie brought forth a hail of ice that smashed the bungalow. The chunks of ice were followed by a shower of rocks that plummeted onto the property, damaging it heavily while a table was almost sent toppling through the window.
In 1979, at the age of seventeen, Carrie has her first menstrual period in the shower of the school gym after a physical education class. She does not know what a period is and believes she is bleeding to death. The other girls in the locker room, led by Sue and school bully Chris Hargensen, taunt her, and the humiliation brings out her telekinetic abilities. Teacher Rita Desjardin gives Chris and her gang a week of detention in the gym as punishment. Chris skips the detention and is barred from the prom. Now aware of her unique powers, Carrie begins to practice her telekinetic strength and energy, unaware that using her powers puts a high level of stress on her body. Sue starts to feel guilty about teasing Carrie, and talks her boyfriend, Tommy Ross, into asking Carrie to the prom. He balks at first, but does it to please Sue. When he asks Carrie to the prom, she eventually says yes, nervous but happy. Margaret attempts to stop her from going, but Carrie insists on trying to fit in and stands up to her for the first time in her life. A talented seamstress, she makes her own dress, and is described as being beautiful as Tommy escorts her to the prom.
At the dance, she gradually comes out of her shell, and even makes jokes while she converses with other promgoers. As she is accepted by the crowd, she begins to enjoy herself for once. Carrie and Tommy are even elected the prom's king and queen after Tina Blake and Norma Watson stuff the voting box at Chris' request. As she ascends the stage to take her crown, however, Chris dumps pig's blood all over her as revenge for being banned from the prom. Carrie runs out of the gym as everyone begins laughing at her. She flies into a rage and she uses her powers to destroy the school, killing dozens of her fellow students. Walking home, she cuts a huge swath of destruction and death through the town. She stops to pray at a cathedral, all the while manipulating a series of power lines outside, killing several townspeople. Sue rushes to the school and sees it explode, destroying a portion of the town. Carrie then returns home, intending to kill her mother.
When she enters the house, Margaret is waiting for her. After telling Carrie she was born from a marital rape, Margaret stabs her with a butcher knife. Carrie kills her mother by telekinetically stopping her heart. She leaves again, heading for the town roadhouse; Chris and her boyfriend Billy Nolan attempt to run her over with their car before Carrie takes control of it and slams it into the side of the roadhouse. Carrie collapses from the shock and stress of using her abilities, along with blood loss from the knife wound, on the ground near the destroyed car. Two hours later, Sue finds her and invites her into her mind to prove that she was innocent and did not wish Carrie any harm. Carrie believes Sue, forgives her, and cries out for her mother as she dies in Sue's arms.
In the original movie adaptation by Brian De Palma, Carrie was portrayed by Sissy Spacek: blond-haired with blue eyes and a slim build. For her screen test, Sissy Spacek rubbed Vaseline into her hair and didn't bother to wash her face. She also wore a sailor dress (which her mother had made for her when she was in the seventh grade) with the hem cut off.
The plot of the film is essentially the same as that of the book, but a few details are changed or omitted. The film offers no evidence that Carrie's telekinetic powers were present in her life before she was a teenager, instead only being triggered by her first period. Her first shown telekinetic occurrences include breaking a light in the shower room, toppling her principal's ashtray in his office, and sending a taunting child swerving off his bike and injuring him. Later, while in her room, she accidentally shatters a mirror by looking at it, unlocks her door from a distance, and pieces the mirror back together.
When Tommy Ross asks Carrie to the prom, Carrie runs away and hides, but her teacher, Miss Collins, finds her and convinces her that she is pretty, brushing her hair out of her face to reveal her smile. Carrie accepts the invitation. Her mother tries to make her stay home, but on prom night Carrie stands up to her mother and telekinetically throws her down against the bed.
The high school massacre is depicted more or less the same as in the novel, with the exception that Carrie remains in the gym after the bucket of blood is dumped over her. She becomes very stiff and appears to go into a trance as she uses her powers to kill the students and destroy the gymnasium. When Margaret corners Carrie, she hugs her and starts praying with her before stabbing her in the back. As Margaret is about to stab her again, Carrie sends a barrage of kitchen utensils flying at her one by one, eventually crucifying her against a doorway, pinning her hands to the beams and sending one last knife spinning into her heart, killing her.
Carrie drags her mother's body into the prayer closet as the house collapses onto them, and bleeds to death. The film returns to Sue for the final scene. She dreams about leaving flowers on the site where Carrie's house once stood (in its place is a For Sale sign with "Carrie White Burns in Hell" scrawled on it), but it quickly turns into a nightmare when Carrie's bloody hand rises from the earth to grab her. It is revealed that the hand grabbing Sue's arm is actually her mother's. Mrs. Snell is trying to wake her hysterical daughter from her nightmare, but Sue just continues to scream in horror, guilt, and torment.
Carrie is also featured in flashbacks in the sequel The Rage: Carrie 2. Sue Snell, now a high school counselor, is still deeply scarred by the events of the prom, being one of the few survivors. Her attention is drawn to a student named Rachel Lang, who is exhibiting unstable telekinetic abilities. She explains to Rachel that telekinesis is a genetic disorder passed from father to child. After researching Rachel's past, Sue discovers that Rachel is in fact Carrie's paternal half-sister: her father, Ralph White, had walked out on his marriage to Margaret White for Rachel's mother, Barbara Lang.
In 1988, Carrie was adapted into a musical co-produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Carrie was portrayed by Linzi Hateley in both the London production and the Broadway transfer. Her songs include "And Eve Was Weak," "Evening Prayers" and "I Remember How Those Boys Could Dance" (duets with Betty Buckley, who also played teacher Rita Dejardin in the 1976 film, as her mother) and the solos "I'm Not Alone" and "Carrie".
The pig's blood scene and the ensuing massacre are depicted in the musical number "The Destruction". Carrie seals off the exits, kills everyone present (staged through pyrotechnics and lasers), and brings down the ceiling, burying the promgoers. Carrie sinks to the floor and begins to cry. Margaret arrives in an evening dress, and comforts her. She then stabs Carrie on the school stairs (a "white-on-white staircase to heaven") during the song "Carrie (reprise)" in a moment described by one scholar as "the sort of moment Florenz Ziegfeld might have come up with had a lunatic asked him to stage a Grand Guignol version of his Follies." Carrie uses her powers to stop Margaret's heart before dying herself, comforted by Sue.
The 2012 revival of the show portrays a different version of events. The blood is dumped onto Carrie from above, as in the book. She slams the doors shut and turns off the lights, creating a blackout. The lights struggle back on in a strobe effect as Carrie forces everyone else to the ground. The students writhe in desperation as Carrie sets the gym on fire, and telekinetically forces Chris Hargensen to break her own neck. Several try to escape but are pinned to the walls. Carrie then leaves, blowing up the gym as she does so. Sue narrates how Carrie cuts a trail of destruction across town on her way home, as Sue herself follows her. At the White home, Carrie finds Margaret reciting prayers. She takes Carrie in her arms and sings softly to her before revealing the kitchen knife and stabbing her. Carrie uses her powers to force the knife out of Margaret's hands before stopping her heart. Sue enters, and cradles Carrie as she dies of her wounds.
2002 television film
The television portrayal of Carrie was similar to the original novel, with the exception of her appearance: she was shown as having brown hair and brown eyes, a pale but clear complexion, and a small, slim frame. In this version Angela Bettis plays Carrie. It is implied that she is some shade of Pentecostal; her classmates once heard her speaking in tongues, and thought she was having a seizure.
The story is told as a flashback, as the police question several surviving students and faculty members about the incident at the school and Carrie's death.
As in the novel, Carrie already shows some signs of rebelling against her mother's fanatical religious beliefs. She has a cross necklace, but only wears it at home. She also hides teen magazines in her "prayer closet," and secretly reads them when her mother locks her in there. After gaining confidence from accepting Tommy's invitation to the prom, Carrie retorts to her mother that she often believes her mother makes up the Bible quotes she constantly preaches at her.
As in the novel, her telekinetic abilities were present when she was a child, though only one example is given: the shower of flaming rocks. Her only other telekinetic manifestations happened after the shower incident. However, this film adds events that never took place in either the original novel or film; in one scene, she falls into a bizarre trance, during which she bends her metal ruler and cracks her desk in half with her mind, but is unaware of what she's done until she comes back to consciousness. After researching "miracles" and finding out about telekinesis, she begins practicing with it, attempting to control and intensify it.
When Tommy Ross asks her to go to the prom with him, she shyly accepts, but her mother refuses to allow it. Carrie uses her power against her mother, blocking the doorways and preventing Margaret from storming out. Carrie begins taking control of the situation, standing up for herself for once.
As she and Tommy arrive at the prom, Carrie is greeted with open arms, complimented and accepted by the crowd of students and teachers. She actually begins to enjoy herself, and is even more excited when she is elected Prom Queen. While on stage with Tommy, she drifts off into a daydream in which she and Tommy share the dance, leading to a shared kiss.
Carrie remains inside the gym after the blood lands on her. Most of the students, especially those in on the prank laugh at her, while the others just stare, horrified. Carrie goes into shock and loses control of her telekinesis, sending a wave of energy through the crowd and slamming the doors shut. Tina Blake's date, Kenny, tries to stick his hand through the doors in an attempt to stop them, but Carrie crushes and twists his arm between the doors. Huge sets of lights begin to shake above the crowds, letting off showers of sparks and falling down to the floor. One set swings and smashes against the mural, igniting it.
The students begin to panic, and Carrie knocks Tina to the floor with a basketball backboard before viciously crushing her to death with it. As the gym erupts in panic, Miss Desjarden, along with Norma, find an exit route through a vent as the sprinklers above turn on, showering the gym with water. Carrie breaks the sprinkler supply pipes lining the walls, sending the water gushing out and flooding down onto the floor.
Carrie then pushes the water aside and begins walking out as another set of lights swings and smashes into the electric scoreboard. When it hits the water-soaked floor, it electrocutes everyone inside. As Carrie walks out, the gym collapses behind her. She then makes her way through the town in a trance, destroying it much as in the novel, exploding gas stations and destroying cars. Billy attempts to run her over as Chris pleads with him to stop, but Carrie sends the car flying at a tree, crushing them to death.
Carrie finally makes it home; still wearing her blood-covered prom dress, she steps into a bath and washes herself. She then snaps back to herself; she doesn't remember a thing about what happened. Her mother calls her a witch and attempts to drown her in the tub while reciting the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. With her last ounce of strength, Carrie telekinetically stops her mother's heart, killing her— before ceasing to breathe herself.
Sue finds Carrie later, and manages to revive her. Sue then hides Carrie in the ruins of the school for about a week or so, while Sue is questioned by the police. Afterwards, Carrie visits her own grave, as well as her mother's. There, Sue insists that Carrie must not be seen by anyone, and that she must leave town. Sue then offers to drive her as far as Florida, and the film concludes with Carrie startled awake in the passenger seat of Sue's car by visions of her mother and Chris. When Sue questions her, she dismisses the dream as "nothing".
Her portrayal is largely a mix of the book and the original film. While she cowers in the shower room under the onslaught of the other girls' taunts, Chris Hargensen records the moment on her smartphone and later uploads it to YouTube. Her first shown telekinetic occurrences include breaking a lamp in the shower room, cracking the water cooler in the principal's office, and sending a taunting child swerving off his bike and injuring him. However, it is not until she causes a crack down the middle of her prayer closet's door that she first suspects she is telekinetic.
While spending the week in study hall, Carrie researches information about her powers both online and via books in the school library, and discovers that telekinesis is passed on from mother to daughter. Her grandmother had it, but her mother doesn't. She gradually learns to harness her power. Unlike the other versions, she can channel it with her hands. When Carrie tells her mother that Tommy asked her to the prom and Margaret refuses to let her go, Carrie lifts her off the floor as she tries to walk away, then pins her to the ground.
On prom night, when Margaret continues to beg Carrie not to go, Carrie sends her flying into the prayer closet and locks her in. When Carrie and Tommy get to the prom they dance and have fun with the other people. Carrie even starts to come out of her shell and joke. Meanwhile, Chris has secretly entered the gym with the help of her best friend, Tina Blake, who then stuffs the ballet box. Tommy and Carrie are declared prom king and queen. As Carrie reaches her star on stage Chris dumps a bucket of pig's blood on her. Covered in blood, Carrie stands there stunned. Tommy yells, "What the hell!" before Chris's henchwoman, Tina, projects the video of the shower incident on the big screens. As Carrie starts to leave the stage, the rope holding the bucket slips, dropping it on Tommy and killing him. Chris and her boyfriend Billy run, fearing that they will get caught, as Carrie rushes to Tommy and cradles his head crying. Looking up she sees her own bloody reflection in a pair of sunglasses. Slowly rising, she turns around to face the crowd. The lights begin to flicker as blood droplets begin to levitate off her skin. Her eyes dilate. She screams and knocks everyone to the ground with a telekinetic wave. She locks the doors and sending objects flying all over the gym to kill those she believes are responsible. After opening the sprinklers, she uses electrical wiring to electrocute most of the survivors. Then she levitates across the gym as flames engulf the back stage and curtains.
Outside the gym, she lands safely and begins to walk. Seeing Chris and Billy driving away, she follows and opens a large hole in the road with a stomp of her foot. As the car turns around, Chris sees Carrie and tells Billy to run her over. As the car comes speeding towards her she stops it telekinetically, smashing Billy's head against the steering wheel and killing him instantly. After locking the doors and trying to strangle Chris with her own seat belt, Carrie uses her powers to lift the car off the road. Chris attempts to make the car go but only succeeds in making the wheels spin before Carrie hurls the car into a gas pump. Chris's head smashes through the windshield and she dies. A nearby light pole sparks, igniting the car and gas pumps as Carrie walks away.
Carrie comes home and washes the blood off in the bathtub before collapsing in her mother's arms. As they kneel to pray, Margaret pulls a knife and stabs Carrie in the shoulder. As Margaret attempts to finish her off, Carrie uses her powers to push Margaret away. Margaret manages to slash Carrie in the arm. Carrie launches Margaret against the wall and crucifies her by pinning her to a wall with household objects, including knives that she propels into her chest and stomach. Carrie then releases her mother and cradles her as Margaret dies in her arms. Realizing what she has done, Carrie becomes hysterical and makes stones start to rain from the sky to crush the house, until Sue shows up. A furious Carrie grabs Sue with her powers and asked her why everyone tricked her at the prom. Sue shows Carrie her mind and proves to her that she had nothing to do with what happened at the prom. Carrie telepathically learns of Sue's pregnancy and reveals to Sue that the baby will be a girl. Carrie then uses her powers to throw Sue to safety before the stones crush the house.
After Sue lays a white rose on her grave, the headstone (vandalized with the words "Carrie White Burns in Hell") cracks, implying that Carrie is still alive.
Powers and Abilities
- Telekinesis - Carrie's most known psionic ability is that she can easily control, rearrange, assemble, manipulate, throw and move multiple objects and people at once by strongly focusing her mind and boundless energy on the voluntary action or to channel her telekinesis through her emotions or impulse. Additionally, the 1976 movie and book implies that Carrie must see with her eyes what she manipulates; the 2013 movie shows Carrie using her hands to manipulate her telekinetic strength. In the 2013 movie: While heading out the door to prom, Carrie forced Margaret to freeze and telekinetically forced her mouth shut as she pushed her into the prayer closet and then slammed and locked the door. She was also able to telekinetically levitate herself as shown after she finished her attack while she flew off the stage. The level of telekinesis Carrie displayed in all incarnations seemed to be tied to her rage; the angrier she became, the more feats of telekinesis she was able to achieve.
- Telepathy - Carrie also possess telepathic abilities that include the reading of minds, projection of thoughts and manipulation of minds. The first mention of telepathy in the book takes place when Tommy invites Carrie to prom and ends up with a weird sensation in his head. Carrie's telepathy grew stronger by the time of the prom night, when she unknowingly reached into Tommy's head and twisted things around. Tommy described it as though Carrie's mental voice and image were stuck in his mind and blanked his other thoughts out (an indication of Carrie's mind control abilities), so much so that Tommy began to fear Carrie. The novel had Carrie display her telepathy to its full potential when she telepathically broadcast her name to anyone that was within a certain radius; people who had no idea who Carrie was, suddenly knew her name, how she looked like, and the fact that she was responsible for the town's destruction, which was what made the entire world remember who Carrie White was. When Carrie found Billy and Chris in their car, seemingly due to her telepathy, she began shouting her name inside of their heads, probably in an attempt to intimidate them. The end of the novel had Carrie engage in a telepathic conversation with Sue, after Sue felt Carrie drawing her in with her telepathy and ended up getting "mindraped" when she invited Carrie to read her thoughts to prove her innocence; this was a painful experience for Sue. When Carrie died, Sue felt her death due to the psychic connection. The 2002 movie shows Carrie subconsciously sharing flashbacks of her life with Sue, but she does not appear to read Sue's thoughts, an ability she probably would have shown in the TV series that was never made. The 2013 movie implies that Carrie telepathically connected with Sue in both directions: Carrie tells Sue that she would soon have a baby girl, shortly before gently forcing her out of her home. This ability is not directly addressed in the 1976 movie.
- Pyrokinesis and thermokinesis - Unique to the 2013 movie, Carrie could also pyrokinetically, thermokinetically ignite objects. She initially displayed this ability by fusing the slide lock on the door to keep her mother locked in the prayer closet and also blowing cars up with her mind. While fire and explosions are seen in the book, Carrie only opens gasoline pumps and ruptures natural gas lines; the ignition source in every case is a cigarette carelessly discarded by another person. The 2002 movie hints at this ability but shows most fires started by sparking electrical equipment rather than pyrokinesis. This ability can be known as telekinetic destruction, molecular manipulation, spontaneous combustion, or telekinetic explosion.
- Geokinesis - In the 2013 movie, Carrie also showed the earth-related elemental ability to create strong and destructive earthquakes, when she was pursuing Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan causing a fissure to follow them; Later, while mourning her mother's death, a distraught Carrie geokinetically summoned a shower of rocks to rain down on and destroy both her and her house.
- Technopathy and electromagnetism - In the 2002 movie, Carrie causes a microphone cable to spark without touching or damaging it through other means. In the 2013 movie, she disrupts electronic appliances such as lights to flicker or malfunction.
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