Under the Influence

Joachim Trier Grapples with the Fractured Time of Don’t Look Now

Visual Analysis — Sep 9, 2018

Whether he’s exploring the dynamics of a family in crisis or putting his own spin on the body horror genre, Norwegian director Joachim Trier always returns to the subjective experience of time and memory as a central theme. His fascination with how cinema can move associatively, across multiple temporalities, stems from his love for filmmakers such as Nicolas Roeg—and particularly the British director’s 1973 masterpiece Don’t Look Now. Unfolding in Roeg’s radically nonlinear narrative style, this marital drama blends an intimate character study with elements of the supernatural, using disjointed editing to evoke the turbulent interior lives of a couple mourning the death of a child. After discovering Roeg’s work as a teenager and being struck by how his oeuvre defies easy categorization, Trier has continually looked to this film for inspiration—and has even used its title as the name of the production company he cofounded with longtime collaborator Eskil Vogt.

For the latest episode of Under the Influence—a series in which we invite contemporary artists to discuss films in the collection that have inspired them—Trier talks about why Don’t Look Now has become so entwined with his own creative life. He also explains why its notorious sex scene is “the best in all of cinematic history,” and examines how Roeg’s blending of the sensual and the metaphysical has influenced his own films, including Oslo, August 31st (2011) and Thelma (2017).

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