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:: The Others

The Others is the story of a lonely higher-class mother (Nicole Kidman) and her two children who live in a large manor. Her sanity is left to question as she runs household with the aid of servants while her husband is away at war. The children Anne (Elaine Cassidy) and younger boy (Kames Bentley), are bound to live under only candlelight by a photosynthesis disease and the mother spends time teaching them, and instructing the servants inside the house.

The large manor is fairytale in size, akin to that used in Flowers in The Attic. Likewise establishing shots of its grandeur would have been used in other American movies to date. Two female servants and a male gardener are employed to take care of the family. While all the rooms are not accessed by the camera’s eye, the house provokes imagination amongst the oldest viewers. As the sole confinement for the children the house is the parameters of play games and their life story.

It is within these confines that the children have developed their strong personalities and bonds between each other. They share a bed, have lessons and play together. Separation makes them anxious, although time is spent alone when Anne is punished. Anne as the older is stronger and she chooses to scare her brother with stories of ghosts and another family that lives in the house.

While the children are taught daily in ordinary school lessons their life involves a strict discipline of religion. A discussion of the four types of limbo in Hell provides comedy to this generation. Anne is punished by days of reading the bible aloud, because she refuses to beg forgiveness from the Virgin Mary. It is an insular world of religion, and we are told the nearby pastor visits the family for guidance.

The mother is regimented with the children’s health protection and lessons, a strict employer to the servants. The lighting conditions that the children are kept under leaves her skin pale, and her eyes red. The lack of light may also be the cause of migraines and a stress that governs a household of silence. Her beauty may see her trapped and starved for attention, but this interpretation only makes her annoying. Those that did not fall in love with Moulin Rouge will take time to warm to her condition and sanity. The confines are that of social time, a woman trapped by feelings of relationship loneliness, her sanity improving when her male partner returns. A mental condition is apparent and she takes medication to calm her blood pressure. Her children are worried by an incident of abuse upon them, but it is not clear until the end the details of her fit of crazy.

Distinctions between the servants and the family are seen in speech and costume difference. The servants are versed in the cleaning and maintenance of the house and are loved enough by the owner of the house to receive graves. They are subservient, and proud but silent with wisdom that creates a scare toward climax. While the children joke that ghosts wear only white sheets it is clear that the supernatural plays an important part in this story, just as one skeleton secret of the past links the family together forever.

Screening at the George Cinemas, Classic Cinemas, Cinema Nova, Balwyn Cinemas, Dendy Brighton, and Cameo Belgrave