Carrie: A Film Critique
Everyone’s familiar with the captivating stories of Stephen King that gives off an undertone of truth. The novel Carrie was the first of many published by King. According to King’s official website, it says that the inspiration of Carrie came from two girls that he knew from high school. The screenwriter, Lawrence D. Cohen made a draft for Carrie in about six weeks, which was very similar to the actual novel. That wasn't the only adaptation he wrote for Stephen King, he also wrote the script for IT. Brian De Palma in addition to being the director of Carrie, he was also the director of Scarface, Mission Impossible and many more. In an interview, Brian De Palma says that Psycho inspired Carrie in some factors.
The the 1976 film directed by Brian De Palma, Carrie is a riveting adaptation of Stephen King’s Novel. This film is chilling, twisting, and will leave you grateful for the mother that you already have. The plot of the story is like any other coming of age film, an outcast teenage girl reinvents herself and the jock boy realizes that she was beautiful all along, the girl becomes more comfortable in her skin and becomes prom queen. Except that in this film, what follows is not so ordinary. Carrie is a coming of age film gone wrong. The protagonist of the film is Carrie White, portrayed as Sissy Spacek is an isolated teenage girl who just wants someone to accept her and give her love. Her mother, the antagonist of the film, Margaret white portrayed as Piper Laurie who is abusive and very obsessive when it comes to her religion.
|Carrie (1976) Prayer closet|
In my opinion, if you missed the beginning of the film, it’s useless to watch the rest. You can almost automatically see that Carrie is an outcast. The setting is outside while a girls P.E class is happening. The uniforms give away that the film was not taking place in the modern day. I’m sure if you look at any old highschool film, you’ll see a similar costume for P.E. The teens are playing volleyball and if you look at Carrie’s awkward stance and her facial expressions of dread, it gives away the fact that she doesn’t fit in. Next in the girls locker room, an important scene of the film. While she is showering, Carrie starts her period for the first time. At the time she wasn’t aware of what this was and thought that she was dying. She then hysterically begs for help from her classmates, they laugh at her while she feels as if she is facing her last moments. Another important scene takes place in the principal's office, here is when the audience fist see’s the use of her powers. Carrie is frustrated with the principal mis-saying her name and flips the ash tray onto the floor using her telekinesis. Miss Collins intervenes and just tells her to go home. Being dismissed from school, she goes home. There she faces her mother who punishes her for getting her period by making her repeat biblical references and locks her into a closet, convinced that Carrie getting her period was brought on by sin. Inside is decorated with props like Jesus crucified and a candle with pictures of Jesus to ensure the closet to be seen as a prayer closet.
The house was a perfect setting for the Whites. The outside is gothic, old and continues on to the inside. You can tell that the inhabitants don’t care much for materialistic items. It’s simple and modest. The costumes of the Whites reflect the same as the house. I think that it stands out from the rest of the characters. Some may argue that the costume design of Carrie is a reflection of adolescence sexuality, and again, coming of age. In the beginning of the film, while in P.E, you can see Carrie’s costume is fitted differently than other girls. Her shirt appears too big going past her hips and untucked. The regular clothes that Carrie wears is also baggie and looks like Margret still picks out her clothes. She wears long, modest skirts throughout the movie. Her hair is rough and she uses it a a shield, messing it up when she’s distressed. This makes Carrie look childish or pre-pubescent compared to the other girls at school. It’s deliberate to be received as a virgin Mary type modesty. A dramatic moment for character development appears when we see Carrie getting ready for prom. We see Carrie in her broken mirror while getting ready for Prom. Her mom walks out of the shadows “I might’ve known it would be red” she says, Carrie corrects her, its a soft pink. I think this shows that she was still that innocent girl.
Later on in the movie, Margaret finds out that Carrie is going to prom and of course, detests it by hurting herself and taunting Carrie by telling her that “he’s not coming” or “they’re all going to laugh at you”, this describes Margaret's character well by showing how manipulative she is towards Carrie. Even then, Carrie was still trying to find maternal comfort in her mother but it doesn’t work. Carrie then goes against her mother and uses her telekinesis by overpowering her mother. This scene was also very interesting because it shows the vulnerability of Margaret and we as an audience haven't really seen that until now.
My favorite scene was Prom when Carrie got called to the stage because everything is so pretty, if you walked into the theater knowing nothing about the movie, you really can’t tell what’s happening next. Everyone’s clapping and the music and visuals are dreamy. It’s deceiving, the calm before the storm kind of. Then after that all of a sudden, she's covered in blood. Everything is silent and you can feel the tragedy in your heart. At that moment I didn't want to breath and it was almost as if I myself was in the audience. You can see what I mean in the within the first minute of this clip.
The protagonist of the film, Carrie has one desire overall. That desire is to be cared for. Carrie getting her period awakens that desire. That was the Inciting incident because not only in her life, in so many other young girls lives, that is what creates the bridge from being a girl to a woman. Most people, even if they don’t have friends, has family who loved them and had a home they can go home to and feel accepted. Carrie did not have that. She came home to the antagonist, the villain of her life. She didn’t even have a dad, he died when she was younger. The journey that Carrie took to pursue that desire was left undone due to the unexpected prom incident, which was the crisis, the moment that led up to the climax of the film. The Climax, the final showdown between protagonist and antagonist was the death of Margaret. In the end, she really didn’t find that love. Although the audience can see that Miss Collins cared for her, I don’t think Carrie was satisfied with that. I believe she just wanted a mom to love her and that’s probably what she needed too. Overall, I would say that this film was successful in pre-production.