Don't Look Now, released in 1973, confirmed director Nicolas Roeg as one of the
most stylish and innovative British directors of the postwar period. Adapted
from a short story by Daphne du Maurier, it is both a complex study of how
people come to terms with grief and a chilling tale of murder set among the
canals and churches of Venice. Featuring telling performances by Julie Christie
and Donald Sutherland as the couple whose daughter has tragically died,
Don't Look Now depicts the way in which the macabre and the everyday are
In his lucid, subtle account, Mark Sanderson describes the collaboration
between director and actors that sustained the film's emotional richness.
He returns to du Maurier's original text and to the traditions of Gothic writing
that underpin Don't Look Now's combination of horror, melodrama and black
comedy. Sanderson examines the film's intricate visual style, uncovering the
way in which particular motifs are used to amplify its depiction of two terrible
deaths. He finds compensation for the film's grimly fatalistic view of life in its
celebration of sexual relationships and the power of recollection. The book
includes an exclusive and in-depth interview with Roeg as well as rare and
unpublished comments from Christie.
In his foreword to this special edition, published to celebrate the 20th
anniversary of the BFI Film Classics series, Jason Wood places Don't Look Now
in the context of Roeg's film-making careeer, and draws upon Roeg's revealing
insights into the film's production.
Benio is the winner of the BFI Publishing competition, in association with Creative Review, to design the cover artwork for the 20th anniversary edition of the BFI Film Classic on Don’t Look Now by Mark Sanderson.
I was born in London and have lived in (or around) west London ever since. I'm 100% Polish, which made my upbringing quite interesting – having to try and juggle my traditional (and sometimes quite strict) Polish values with the somewhat frivolous, fast-paced social life of a young Londoner. I split my Secondary School experience equally, between two schools – one 'state' school and one 'private' school. I went on to study Graphic Design BA (Hons) at Kingston University, London, which I've just finished and extremely enjoyed.
Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Don’t Look Now?
I decided to keep my cover design as simple as possible. In the film, the viewer is almost instantly confronted with the strong red of the young girl's coat. Straight away I was thinking about how it could be used – what it could mean... Blood? Death? Love? Needless to say (without giving too much away for those who haven't seen the film!), the red coat becomes quite important further along the line. It's first role in climaxing the death of John and Laura's daughter sent my mind into a spiral, going round and round this PVC looking red coat, trying to figure out how I could show it in such a way that transforms it into more than just a garment. Once I saw the red ink bleeding onto John's photograph, I started imagining the coat covered in blood. Since the coat was red, it seemed pointless ... unless the coat was made from blood? I loved the fact that something we wear to protect ourselves started becoming a symbol of danger, but danger mixed with contrasting emotions – first with the guilt and depression of the grieving parents, second with the fear and anxiety caused by the red coat in Venice. The coat started becoming the cause and the effect of death, endlessly playing on John's mind – much like a bloodstain I once saw on a hospital ceiling ... What had happened? Who was hurt? More importantly, if their blood was on the ceiling, how were they hurt? I was excited to match a bloodstain's impact and ambiguity with the red coat's purpose in the film.
What techniques and materials did you use to create your artwork?
I managed to find a beige coat I thought looked similar to the coat from the film in Oxfam, then crafted a hood out of cartridge paper and added it to the coat. Then I stuffed the coat with newspaper to make it look as if someone was wearing it. Suspended on string from the ceiling, I poured red gloss over the jacket and let it drip slowly, whilst adjusting my lighting. I had a lot of help from a good friend – Dan Jones (www.danielmartinjones.com) – who took photographs for me. Since it was shot against a neutral background, I was able to use Photoshop to extract every red tone in my photograph, which I layered onto a charcoal background. The type was centred and spaced adequately to leave the blood stain/coat with the main focus, and to balance out the feel of the page.
What is your earliest film memory?
Watching Beetlejuice with a friend when I was a child (once the parents had gone to bed) and then embarrassingly having to wake them up when I couldn't sleep.
What inspires you?
A lot of moving image, actually. Tarantino, Rodriguez, Marc Isaacs, Patrick Boivin. I think a lot of interactive work gets me going, too. But a huge personal inspiration for me has been those closest to me; my University tutors; friends and especially Rod Pereira - my A level art tutor. Without his encouragement, enthusiasm and life lessons (he even taught me how to shave properly) I'd never have been a designer.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm working with James Coltman (cargocollective.com/jamescoltmandesign), Josh Blanchett (http://www.joshblanchett.co.uk/) and Dan Jones (www.danielmartinjones.com)... We're setting up our own walk-in Design Studio and Art Gallery, on Golborne Road, Portobello, London. It's an extremely exciting time for us - we're planning on moving into our shopfront location in early October! Check out our Pre-Launch installation here: www.butchershook.co.uk
What did winning the competition mean to you?
Winning the competition meant a lot to me - I'm so elated and proud to have had my design chosen. It has taken me a while to get over the fact that my idea made it all the way from my brain to being mass – published ... I just hope it does justice to the film, and of course to the book!