On the secluded Isle of Jersey in the final days of World War II, a young woman waits
for herbeloved husband to return from the front. Grace (Nicole Kidman) has been raising
her twoyoung children alone in a beautiful, cavernous, Victorian mansion, the one place
she believes them to be safe.
When three new servants arrive to replace the ones that inexplicably disappeared,
startling, supernatural events begin to unfold. Grace's daughter reveals she has been
communicating with unexplained apparitions. At first, Grace is reluctant to believe in her
children's frightening sightings, but soon, she too begins to sense that intruders are at
large. Who are these numinous trespassers ? And what do they want from Grace's family? In
order to discover the truth, Grace must abandon all other fears and beliefs and enter the
otherworldly heart of the supernatural.
The Others is an exquisitely handsome supernatural thriller with a chilling twist, says
Louise Keller in her review. "From concept to execution, Alejandro Amenábar has
created a magnificent, haunting film that presents Nicole Kidman in perhaps her best
performance to date." It also stars Christopher Eccleston. Eric Sykes, Elaine Cassidy
and Fionnula Flanagan co-star as the enigmatic new servants. Newcomers James Bentley and
Alakina Mann play the children Grace will do anything to protect.
Exteriors were shot at an English style manor in the Atlantic Coast of Spain at Cantabrie, and interiors on a soundstage in a Madrid studio.
A Mother On a Supernatural Journey
To bring The Others to life, Alejandro Amenábar knew that the key to it all would
be the actress who plays Grace, a devout Christian and dedicated young mother stoically
raising her children alone amidst the very palpable fear of wartime. Just when Grace
thinks she has pulled her children through every known threat, a series of events unfold
--so strange and disturbing that she is forced to abandon all her beliefs and fears and
enter the realm of the supernatural.
Amenábar felt that to capture Grace's journey he would need a woman capable of
embodying a roller-coaster range of emotions, from maternal love to creeping paranoia to
shattering shock. He also wanted someone with the classical grace and porcelain beauty of
a Golden Age leading lady -a sophisticated, headstrong woman for whom a supernatural
encounter would be the last thing expected.
He found all these qualities in Nicole Kidman -and something more. "What really
drew me and captured me completely about Nicole was the undeniable force of her
stare," says Amenábar. Much of the terror created in the film takes place in
Nicole's eyes. They are better than any special effects money can buy."
Kidman was deeply drawn to the mystery inherent in the story and to the torrent of
emotions roiling underneath the ghostly events taking place in Grace's house. "I
found myself absolutely fascinated and enchanted with Grace's story," she says.
"I have never done a supernatural thriller before, which was very intriguing to me,
and I knew that with Alejandro Amenábar I would be in the absolute best of hands."
For Kidman, it was Amenábar's unique understanding of how to subtly build fear in
audiences that gave her total trust. "It was truly a pleasure to work with such an
imaginative and original talent, " she says. "He has an incredible ability to
build true suspense, which comes from the heart and mind, from the inside, rather than the
outside. He's not afraid to go to the very darkest places, and he gave me the courage to
go there with him as Grace slowly begins to accept that reality is not quite what she
thinks it is."
Alejandro Amenábar's Anatomy of Fear
This notion of childhood fears becoming real is one that has long fascinated Amenábar:
"I wanted to make a film full of long, dark corridors, a tribute to those beings,
never unmasked, that stalked the hallways of my boyhood nightmares." Fresh off the
success of his acclaimed Spanish film, Open Your Eyes - a sexy, fantastical suspense
thriller now adapted into English by Cameron Crowe and re-titled Vanilla Sky, starring Tom
Cruise - Amenábar was ready to go even deeper into the mystery thriller genre. He began
thinking about the very nature and origins of terror and suspense.
"My childhood was beset by fears -fear of the dark, fear of half-open doors, fear
of closets, and generally speaking, fear of anything that could conceal someone or
'something,"' he recalls. "Thus, it is no surprise that I should become an avid
devotee of the occult film. I often wonder," he continues, "why we take so much
pleasure in fear? And in part I believe it's because the experience is so intense, and yet
we know that we are still safe on the other side of the screen. The more that safety is in
question, the scarier the film."
Amenábar knew from the beginning that the unrelenting spell of The Others could only
be created through a deep emphasis on mood and psychology, not superficial special
effects. "I think it is dangerously easy in this type of film to go overboard with
special effects and turn the desired shivers into revulsion, " he notes. "For
me, leaving something to the imagination is the essence of real horror. It's about the
anxieties, the obsessions, the paranoia that lie latent in our consciousness. Wake these
primal feelings up and you will transport the spectator back to the darkest corners of
childhood fear . . .back to that spine-tingling shiver that can only be described as
Published November 8, 2001