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How does the director create suspense in the film 'The Others'? Refer to three scenes in your answer. The film `The Others' (2001) directed by Alejandro Amenàbar is a traditional ghost/thriller story. It is set in 1945, after the second world war and tells the story of Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) and her two children (Anne-Alacina Marn and Nicholas-James Bently) who live in an isolated grand house on the island of Jersey. It soon becomes obvious that there are `Others' sharing the house with the family, aswell as the unusual arrival of three servants. The film has many links with other horror films including `The Sixth Sense', `Rebecca' and `The Innocents'. Throughout the film it is evident that facts are being hidden not only from the characters but the audience also. The main twist in the film is that it is revealed the family and servants died, and the mother killed the two children. The director has made the film full of anticipation and suspense. One of the main emphasises is on lighting. The two children are photosensitive therefore can't be exposed to more light than a dim candle, so the house is plunged into darkness; this makes it difficult for the viewers to see what's happening- it creates an air of uncertainty, especially when Grace begins to become suspicious about there being `Others'.
At one point the screen is totally black and she comes from the darkness, holding a candle. The camera follows her to the music room. When she reaches the door and it clicks open, the music immediately stops. However the door has been unlocked. Grace goes towards the open piano and slams it shut, which un-nerves the viewer. Then she scans the room as non-diegetic music plays to convince the viewer that something or someone is there. Grace goes outside. The camera is focused on the door, as Grace's hand is on one side of the door. She is holding onto it and it is swinging back and forth but she isn't moving. Then, it suddenly slams shut and a creepy, eerie sort of scream is heard by the viewer. Grace falls backwards as if she's been shot. When she jumps up the door has been locked, even though it was open just a minute before. Grace screams for Mrs Mills, the housekeeper. She unlocks the door and as the camera scans the room it is noticeable that the piano is open; gleaming in the moonlight. Grace is stunned and puts hand to her chest which shows disbelief. Afterwards the viewer can ask questions about why the family couldn't see the gun floating in mid-air. This is called suspension of belief- it doesn't stop the viewer from enjoying the scene.
Anne and Nicholas run away as the scene cuts to Grace, who can't find the children. She hears the screams and the two separate scenes become one as she runs to find them. There is also quite a lot of non-diegetic music in the scene which adds drama and suspense. In conclusion the director Alejandro Amenàbar has managed to create suspense using lighting, sound and camera angles. However, even though there aren't any special effects and nothing really happens in the film, the viewer is still riveted and nervous throughout. Tension is built up in every scene with a climax in the Grave scene. Another factor that creates suspense is narrative perspective. At the beginning of the film viewers are led to believe that Grace and her children are an ordinary family living in a haunted house. Then, right at the end, the viewers are told that the Stewart family died; this makes everything that has happened finally fall into place, (like the curtains opening and closing and doors being unlocked). Also, the viewers may wonder why the families couldn't hear and see each other all the time; however Mrs Mills explains to Grace that sometimes the worlds are far apart and other times very close. I think that the director has ended the film with a message to the viewers- we can't be sure that everything we see happen is actually real. I also think that Alejandro Amenàbar has created suspense throughout the film extremely effectively making it a great film to watch. Lauren Marsh The Others page1
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