AT SLASH FILM, DEBOPRIYAA DUTTA DELVES INTO 'CARRIE' - ALSO, WILLIAM KATT INTERVIEW VIDEO
Debopriyaa Dutta has written a terrific deep-dive analysis of Brian De Palma's Carrie for Slash Film, including a comparison of the film's ending with Stephen King's original novel. Here's an excerpt:
Although Carrie's story has been told and retold via various lenses and assumes many tints, the heart of the story remains the same: It is about a girl who experiences the horrors of isolation, where her very existence becomes a quiet act of rebellion. When pushed too far, she brings about literal carnage and bloodbath, too broken to care whether those trapped inside are cruel or kind-hearted.
Stephen King, who endorses Brian De Palma's adaptation of his novel, has stated on many occasions that he considers the film's ending more fitting than that of the novel. Those familiar with the novel would agree that while King's ending is suited solely for the purposes of novelistic storytelling, De Palma's highly-stylized, aesthetically-brilliant rendition of the ending works better from a purely cinematic point of view. Carrie's breakdown in the novel is much more deliberate and brutal, as she consciously seeks out her classmates to torment them and makes sure that they are beyond outside help. In fact, the school alone is not the target of her incandescent rage: Carrie makes sure that the whole town suffers her wrath, as she detonates the main gas lines and hunts down her tormentors. As she is on the verge of dying, Sue approaches her, and the two connect on a visceral, psychic level before Carrie breathes her last.
In contrast, De Palma utilizes his telltale split screens to unravel a saga of blood-soaked revenge that seems more guttural and trance-induced than consistently deliberate. Yes, Carrie shuts her classmates inside the burning building, but she does not seek out her bullies after her telekinetic floodgates open. Instead, she is forced to explode the car her tormentors are in to safeguard herself, and has no choice but to crucify Margaret after she stabs her daughter in the back. Heartbroken and betrayed by her own kin, Carrie screams in agony, allowing her power to consume and destroy, and she dies after her house topples under the weight of her trauma-fueled angst.
However, the crowning glory of De Palma's ending is the dream sequence that is the stuff of nightmares: the bloodied hand of a dead girl rising from the grave.
Unlike Stephen King's ending, which settles for an imperfect, yet compassionate mirroring between two complex female characters, Brian De Palma's ending lingers on rage, which comes back to haunt from beyond the grave. Sue, who alternates between bully and sympathizer, ultimately finds herself identifying with Carrie's pain. However, there is no closure for either Carrie or Sue — while Carrie is crushed under the weight of her own pain, Sue is compelled to carry the guilt of Carrie's death, which is now a source of horror to her. Even the way in which Carrie reaches out to Sue in the dream is aggressive, as her hand shoots up from her grave and grabs Sue, pulling her inside the crypt.
Although Sue is not nearly as cruel as the other bullies at school, she ends up shouldering the guilt of Carrie's tragic demise, which fuels bottomless grief and the fear of suffering a similar fate. Despite De Palma's sympathetic portrayal of Carrie, this shock ending paints her as a creature of terror in Sue's mind, who will now be forever haunted by the specter of a girl wronged. Within the ambit of genre tropes and the film's gothic overtones, this sequence works remarkably well, jolting audiences out of a latent state of complacency or the misconception that the worst is truly over.
If anything, this ending is more tragic. Despite attempts by those like Sue to understand and comfort Carrie, she breathes her last feeling cornered and betrayed by the world. Her rage, linked to her personhood and autonomy, momentarily paves the way to liberation in the form of vengeance, but is too much to sustain her. In the end, she remains condemned, even in death, only understood in surreal fragments through channeled feminine grief, and rage.
Read Dutta's full article at Slash Film. Meanwhile, also this week, at Elements of Madness, Noel Manning posted an Open Dialogue video with William Katt: