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In this stylish and atmospheric psychological thriller reminiscent of Henry James's Turn of the Screw, a widowed English writer brings a young, glamorous new bride to his bleak, isolated home in rural Spain. She soon becomes obsessed with her 12-year old stepson, who she learns has just been expelled from school for mysterious offenses; while the boy enjoys, exploits, and feeds her increasing paranoia about him. That he is a brilliant and lonely child is obvious. But is he the victim of a neurotic woman's overwrought imagination-- in Shakespeare's words, the innocent flower, or the serpent under it? Written by
Paul Emmons <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film received minor cuts for its initial UK cinema release. However in 1978 the introduction of the Protection of Children Act caused the BBFC to withdraw the film where it received extensive cuts to all scenes where Elise strips in front of Marcus, shots of Marcus caressing Elise's breasts, and the complete removal of the bed scene between Elise and Marcus. See more »
Its a well directed movie and needless to say it must have been a tight rope-walking to handle the taboo subject which must been akin to playing with fireball given the fact that movie debuted on screens way back in 1972. The movie seems more of psychological thriller as it involves quite a bit of mind-games.
Mark Lester as Marcus does a wonderful job. His character seems more like Damien from The Omen and gets to mouth intelligent lines. He looked on higher side for being portrayed aged twelve.
Britt Ekland gets the meaty bit of the role. Portrays the dilemma of the character quite well. Though the character of Elise starts off as a compassionate mother but as the movie progresses it evolves to be victim of Marcus and then leading to inquisitive wife attempting to unearth the truth.
Hardy Kruger seemed to have underplayed the of role of Paul as torn between the two ends. Otherwise his character had a variety of dimensions to it and certainly could have elevated the grey shades of it.
Narrative begins to build up as the movie progresses. Interesting parts are moves Marcus and Elise to play on the chess board attempting to out-beat each other. The part where Elise begins to get clues about the death is interestingly directed (the jigsaw picture), though might seem primitive my todays standards. The vivid imaginations of Elise comes across quite okay.
And yes, the end was well justified so don't miss the last 60-seconds of the movie.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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