The Others
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Others can be found here.

While her husband is away fighting in WWII, Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) lives alone in a large mansion on the island of Jersey with her two light-sensitive children -- Nicholas (James Bentley) and Anne (Alakina Mann). Not long after Grace hires three new servants -- Mrs Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), gardener Edmund Tuttle (Eric Sykes), and mute Lydia (Elaine Cassidy) -- to replace the staff that ran off, Anne begins talking with an unseen boy named Victor. That, and many other peculiarities, such as curtains opening by themselves and unexplained noises, lead Grace to conclude that their house is inhabited by intruders.

The Others is loosely based on The Turn of the Screw, a novella written by American writer Henry James in 1898. The premise is very similar, but the story steers in a complete different direction.

Jersey is one of the islands in the Channel Islands located in the English Channel between England and France. A map showing their location can be seen here.

They are both afflicted with a severe form of xeroderma pigmentosum, a genetic disorder which interferes with the body's ability to repair damage caused by ultraviolet radiation, as present in sunlight. It can often result in severe sunburns, created after limited exposure to sunlight, which don't heal for weeks. More terribly, it can cause basal cell carcinoma and other types of skin cancers. Even today, xeroderma pigmentosum is incurable, and treatment options are limited. Much like in the film, the best solution is to limit or entirely preclude exposure to the sun.

Grace explains that light is like water, that it has to be contained or confined before another door is opened. Light may not be like water in the sense that it is not fluid and cannot physically fill up an entire space, but light IS a form of radiation with a specific direction. When it is blocked, a shadow is created. Closing doors is therefore the best way to contain direct (sun)light. However, blocking direct light does not give protection to indirect light. When light hits a surface, it can also be reflected or diffused by that surface, depending on the characteristics of the material. So when sunlight enters a room through one door, the direct beam can be reflected by things like mirrors, smooth walls and furniture. In this way, refracted light beams can end up entering another open door on the other side of the room. Light can make a curve in that way. So the best way to prevent either direct or indirect light is to keep all doors closed at all times after passing through.

This may be part of a technique called free association (mediums call it "automatic writing"), where a person says or writes down immediately what comes to mind. In this case, the old woman seems to be in some sort of trance in which she communicates with spiritual entities; she writes down whatever enters her mind, in the hope of conveying some message or drawing that she is receiving from the spirits.

How does the movie end?

Anne and Nicholas sneak out of the house to look for their father and inadvertantly find the graves of Mrs Mills, Mr Tuttle, and Lydia, who died of tuberculosis in 1891. They run back to the house and hide in a closet in a room where Victor's parents are holding a sance in order to contact the ghosts in the house. Although Anne, Nicholas, and Grace vehementaly deny that they are dead, Grace begins to remember the night when, in a fit of psychosis, she smothered her children with a pillow and then put a rifle to her own head. Following her suicide, Grace remembers hearing the children laughing in their bedroom and concluded that God had given her a second chance. Mrs Mills explains to Grace that they must learn to get along with the living and that, even though the Marlishes are moving out, other 'intruders' will move in. In the final scene, the children realize that they are no longer photosensitive (having shed their mortal bodies). As they stand in a sunny window looking down, they see the Marlishes driving away. On the gate, there is a sign announcing that the house is for sale.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 10 months ago
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