The Others (2001 film)

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The Others
TheOthers.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alejandro Amenábar
Produced by
Written by Alejandro Amenábar
Starring
Music by Alejandro Amenábar
Cinematography Javier Aguirresarobe
Edited by Nacho Ruiz Capillas
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • August 10, 2001 (2001-08-10) (US)
  • September 7, 2001 (2001-09-07) (Spain)
  • September 14, 2001 (2001-09-14) (Italy)
  • December 26, 2001 (2001-12-26) (France)
Running time
104 minutes[1]
Country
  • Spain
  • United States
  • France
  • Italy
Language
  • English
  • French
Budget $17 million[2]
Box office $209.9 million[2]

The Others (Spanish: Los Otros) is a 2001 Spanish-American supernatural gothic horror film with elements of psychological horror. It was written, directed, and scored by Alejandro Amenábar. It stars Nicole Kidman and Fionnula Flanagan.

The film won eight Goya Awards, including awards for Best Film and Best Director. This was the first English-language film ever to receive the Best Film Award at the Goyas (Spain's national film awards), without a single word of Spanish spoken in it. The Others was nominated for six Saturn Awards including Best Director and Best Writing for Amenábar and Best Performance by a Younger Actor for Alakina Mann,[3] and won three: Best Horror Film, Best Actress for Kidman and Best Supporting Actress for Fionnula Flanagan. Kidman was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Drama and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, with Amenábar being nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, a rare occurrence for a horror film.

Plot[edit]

Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) is a devout Roman Catholic mother who lives with her two young children in a remote country house in the British Crown Dependency of Jersey, The Channel Islands in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The year is 1945. The children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), have an uncommon disease, Xeroderma Pigmentosum characterized by photo-sensitivity, so their lives are structured around a series of complex rules to protect them from inadvertent exposure to sunlight. The most amount of light that the children can withstand is no more than the lantern. The arrival of three servants at the house — ageing Mrs. Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), elderly gardener Edmund Tuttle (Eric Sykes), and a mute girl named Lydia (Elaine Cassidy) — coincides with a number of odd events, and Grace begins to fear there are unknown others in the house. The house has no electricity and Grace explains that after exiting one room, the door must be locked behind to contain the light. Grace also explains that her last servants left the house without collecting their last pay check. When the children are introduced to their new nanny, Anne mentions that after the departure of the last servants, 'mummy went mad'. Her brother Nicholas however fails to agree and argues that 'nothing happened'. Grace explains to Mrs Mills that she does not believe in stories such as ghosts and requests Mrs Mills not to trust everything that the children say to her. She questions why the servants have arrived when her advert for home help was never published as it was not picked up by the postman. Mrs Mills then divulges that she worked in this house many years ago and was simply asking by coincidence if help was needed.

Initially Grace hears a child crying which Anne mentions is Victor. She mentions that he has a father who is a pianist and that they are viewing the house. Victor cries as he does not wish to live in this house but has to do so. He claims that the house is his. Anne asks where the boy is now and notices that the door has been opened after which she blames the servants for leaving the door open which they deny. At night, Anne claims that Victor keeps opening the curtains and begins to speak to him. Nicholas feels that his sister is trying to frighten him by putting on a fake voice and screams for his mother. When Anne asks Victor to touch her brother to convince him, he does. Anne is punished by Grace for the next three days. She mentions to Mrs Mills that the Pastor has not visited the house in a long while and that Lydia makes far too much noise and asks her to tell her to stop doing so. However, then Grace notices Lydia in the garden, as the noise continues in the house she asks Anne who reiterates her story that their are people in the house. Grace enters a bedroom where she can hear disembodied voices and feels someone exit the room. Anne claims that they all brushed past her and scattered in various parts of the house. Anne draws pictures of four people she has seen in the house numerous times: a man, woman, a boy called Victor, and an old woman. Grace orders the house to be searched. Grace finds a 19th-century "book of the dead", an album of mourning portrait photos of deceased family members from a previous generation, with some missing pages. Grace asks for the book to be removed from the house. Later she asks Mrs Mills about when she last worked in the house. Mrs Mills explains that her previous employers in the house moved to England. Grace also confides that she has not heard from her parents since the beginning of the war. Bertha Mills says that they were evacuated due to the tuberculosis outbreak. When asked by Grace the reason for her muteness, Mrs Mills claims that one day she stopped talking but does not divulge the reason for her becoming mute. Grace breaks down when asked by her children why their father has not returned home.

In the middle of the night, she hears the piano playing in the house, which she does not approve of as she prizes her silence. However, when entering the piano room, it stops playing. Despite closing the piano lid and locking it the piano is opened up again. The door shuts onto her and is locked from the inside as she leaves the room. She is then convinced that the house may be haunted which Mrs Mills strengthens with the idea that the world of the dead does get mixed up with the world of the living. Convinced that something unholy is in the house, she runs out into the fog in search of the local priest to bless the house. Mrs Mills tries to stop her by telling her that the priest will come round himself. Before leaving anyway, Grace instructs Mr Tuttle to check the grounds for gravestones as she remembers that there was a small cemetery in the garden and to see if there was a family buried there who had a little boy named Victor. Meanwhile, Mr. Tuttle is covering gravestones under autumn leaves, under the orders of Mrs Mills, who comments 'Now she thinks the house is haunted'.

Outside, Grace discovers her husband Charles (Christopher Eccleston), whom she thought had been killed in the war, and brings him back to the house. He greets his children after a long period of absence. Charles is distant during the short time he spends there, and Mrs. Mills says, "I do not think he knows where he is." He does not have dinner with the family and prefers to lay in bed. At the dinner table, Anne mentions the 'intruders' again. She is sent away from the table when Grace tells her off. Mrs Mills tells Anne that she believes in Anne's stories and that one day, Grace will see the intruders too and that there are going to be some 'big surprises' soon. She speaks to Mr Tuttle about how now Grace is acting as if nothing has happened and that she does not feel that her husband 'suspects a thing'.

Grace cries as her husband does not engage with her lovingly and remains distant. During this time, Grace attacks an elderly looking woman dressed up in her daughters first holy communion dress. She is frightened by the face she sees underneath the veil. However, she finds that she has actually attacked her daughter when she rips off the veil. Anne brands Grace as wicked and retreats back to her father. Mrs. Mills tells Grace to calm down and that she knows what needs to be done, to which Grace takes offence. Grace does not take the anti-migraine pills offered by Mrs Mills. Charles makes reference to what happened 'that day' by asking Grace outright. Grace explains that she does not know what happened that day. She says that the servants left without giving notice and that without her husband there, she says that she could not leave the house and she did not know what came over her. Anne tells Nicholas that Grace went mad, the way that she did 'that day', Nicholas denies recollection of that day. Charles says he must leave for the front even though Grace claims that the war is now over. She tells Charles that she thinks that Charles wanted to leave her. Charles weeps as he hears this and they make love. The next morning Grace wakes to find him gone again.

That same morning, Grace hears the children's screams: all of the curtains in the house have disappeared or have been taken down by the intruders, as Anne previously had said they might. Grace moves them into a room covered with a blanket and blocks out the light with a large blackboard. Grace demands to know where the curtains are from the servants. The servants query how does Grace know that the daylight will kill her children and that the condition could have cleared up by itself. When Grace sees the servants are not alarmed by this, she accuses them of being involved and banishes them from the house after suggesting that the servants are trying to frighten her and the children out of the house so that they can occupy the house themselves. After leaving, an annoyed Mrs Mills asks Mr Tuttle to start to uncover the gravestones. That night, as Grace searches the house for the curtains, Anne and Nicholas sneak outside to find their father. Anne discovers the graveyard, which the servants have uncovered, and realizes that these are, in fact, the servants' graves. At the same time, Grace finds a torn out photograph from the book of the dead and is horrified to see it is of the three servants. The servants appear and try to speak to the children. Anne recognises that they are ghosts and tells Nicholas not to speak to them and both children run away from them back to the house. The ghost servants follow the children back to the house. Grace has the children hide upstairs, while Mrs Mills reveals that the three servants died of tuberculosis more than 50 years ago. Grace locks herself and the children in the house and tells the children to hide upstairs in the bedroom together. Mrs Mills tells her that she has been trying to explain to her about the new situation in the house and that the living and the dead should learn to live together. Grace pleads for them to leave them in peace. Mrs Mills asks what will she do about the intruders that are in the house with them who took down the curtains and that sooner or later they will find them as they are waiting for them. Hearing the children scream upstairs as they face one of the intruders, previously described as an elderly lady, Mrs Mills tells Grace to go upstairs and talk to the intruders.

Grace walks upstairs to the bedroom with her rosary beads muttering the Lord's prayer. There, she discovers that the old woman whom Anne had described is acting as a medium in a séance with Victor's parents, talking to Anne. The medium asks the children to speak to her. She asks what happened to Anne and Nicholas. As the children answer, their answers are written down which is read out by another gentlemen. It is revealed that the children were killed by their mother by being smothered by a pillow (i.e. the day 'mummy went mad'). The children, shocked by the revelation that they are now deceased, begin to scream that they are not dead. In a frenzy of denial, Grace shakes the séance table, and rips the papers on which the medium has been writing. Victor's family sees only the table shaking and the paper being ripped. In using this supernatural incident as proof that they are not welcome in the house and should leave, Victor's mother convinces her husband to leave this house with their son, which he agrees to do so.

Grace and the children huddle together in shock in the darkened school room, her memories return to her: stricken with grief for her missing husband, isolated by the children's condition and the servants leaving her, Grace lost her mind and smothered her children with a pillow. Realizing what she had done, she shot herself. When she then "awoke" and heard her children's laughter, she assumed God had granted her family a second chance at life. Grace questions where they are now if not alive. Mrs Mills explains that this is exactly what Lydia said when she realised that she and the servants had died; after which, out of shock, she never spoke in the afterlife again. Anne asks if they are in Limbo; Grace is no longer sure despite her Catholic teachings.

Mrs. Mills tells Grace that they will learn to get along with the intruders who periodically come to the house, that sometimes they will notice them and sometimes they will not. The children find they are no longer photosensitive (as they are no longer living), and for the first time, they can enjoy playing in the sunlight. Victor's family, unable to rid the house of its former occupants' spirits, drive away as Grace and the children watch. Although the property is again put up for sale, Grace and the children are firm that "this house is ours," and "no one can make us leave this house."

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The production crew visited Penshurst Place in Kent to film at the Lime Walk in the gardens. The Lime Walk was used in the scene where Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) went looking for a priest in the thick fog and instead met her husband who had returned from the war.[4] Filming locations are among other spots Las Fraguas, Cantabria, northern (Spain) and in Madrid.

Release[edit]

Box office[edit]

The Others was released August 10, 2001 in 1,678 theaters in the United States and Canada and grossed $14 million its opening weekend, ranking fourth at the box office. It stayed in fourth for three more weeks, expanding to more theaters. During the weekend of September 21–23, it was second at the box office, grossing $5 million in 2,801 theaters.[5] The film, which cost $17 million to produce, eventually grossed $96.5 million in the United States and Canada and $113.4 million in other countries, for a worldwide total gross of $209.9 million.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Many critics praised the performances of the stars especially Nicole Kidman as Grace Stewart. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 83% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 148 reviews; the website's consensus stated "The Others is a spooky thriller that reminds us that a movie doesn't need expensive special effects to be creepy."[6] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 74 out of 100, based on 29 reviews.[7] Roger Ebert gave the film two and a half stars out of four, praising that "...Alejandro Amenábar has the patience to create a languorous, dreamy atmosphere, and Nicole Kidman succeeds in convincing us that she is a normal person in a disturbing situation and not just a standard-issue horror movie hysteric." However, he noted that "in drawing out his effects, Amenábar is a little too confident that style can substitute for substance."[8]

William Skidelsky of The Observer has suggested that it was inspired by the 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw.[9]

Accolades[edit]

  • Goya Awards:
    • Best Cinematography (Javier Aguirresarobe)
    • Best Director (Alejandro Amenábar)
    • Best Editing (Nacho Ruiz Capillas)
    • Best Film
    • Best Production Design
    • Best Production Supervision
    • Best Original Screenplay (Alejandro Amenábar)
    • Best Sound
  • Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards:
    • Best Actress (Nicole Kidman)
  • London Film Critics:
    • Best Actress of the Year (Nicole Kidman)
  • Online Film Critics:
    • Best Actress (Nicole Kidman)
    • Best Original Screenplay (Alejandro Amenábar)
  • Saturn Awards:

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE OTHERS (12)". British Board of Film Classification. September 4, 2001. Retrieved September 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Others (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  3. ^ The MovieWeb Team (June 13, 2002). "The 2001 Saturn Awards". MovieWeb. 
  4. ^ Kent Film Office (17 March 2001). "Filmed in Kent: The Others (2001)". Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  5. ^ "The Others (2001) - Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  6. ^ "The Others - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  7. ^ "Others, The (2001): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  8. ^ "The Others (2001)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Skidelsky, Will. "Classics corner: The Turn of the Screw," The Observer (29 May 2010).

External links[edit]