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A Tale of Two Sisters in our magazines

SUBJECT: A Tale of Two Sisters

Water taxi. Photo J Sloane On August 28th I had the pleasure of visiting Bowen Island, off the coast of Vancouver, where a remake of the Korean Horror film A Tale of Two Sisters was being shot. After a 15-minute motorboat ride from the mainland, we departed from our water taxi onto a deserted beach and made our way up to an old house where much of the movie takes place…

Movie picture preview

The story revolves around Anna (Emily Browning) who has just returned home after a hospital stay following her mother’s tragic death, where she discovers her father Steven (David Strathairn) is now engaged to her mother’s former nurse, Rachel (Elizabeth Banks). Visited by a ghost who warns her of Rachel’s intentions, Anna and her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) try to convince their father of the danger before it’s too late.

Legendary producer Walter Parkes (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, The Ring, Saving Private Ryan), who took us on a tour of the house, acknowledged, “I think the Korean movie was a work of genius, but I still don’t understand it after repeated viewings. Part of our job in trying to translate movies like this to American audiences is to clarify the narrative substantially so that it’s understandable, but not lose that edge of ambiguity that makes Asian cinema really fascinating.”

“I would say 75% of the story takes place at this house,” he commented. “We went all over America, all over Canada looking for the right house. I’ve never found a place that is so perfect for a movie, so evocative, that suggest the family is both welcoming and kind of forbidding.”

Walking through the burnt out shell of the adjacent boathouse, Parkes told us, “A key part of the story is that Anna comes home a year after her mother died in a mysterious fire in a studio on top of the boathouse. We looked far and wide for a property with a boathouse. We realized that wasn’t going to happen, so we built this one. And in a scene last week, we actually reenacted the explosion and the fire that took place here. So, what you’re seeing is what happened after we did our pyrotechnics. It was a spectacular blaze.”

Only shot four days before, the smell of burning lingered in the air, as Parkes remarked, “When we exploded this, we had as you can see, many very well placed charges, but we augmented it with CG. In fact, this looks like one of our gas lines,” he added, carefully stepping over a burnt pipe.

“There’s a key scene in here where Anna, at the end of the first act, comes down and hears a sound, which she associates with her mother,” Parkes continued. “And it brings her to this place, which the father has rebuilt, as if making believe this tragedy didn’t happen, and [she] experiences a vision with a kind of spirit or ghost of her mother. It’s a very frightening scene.”

Just standing in the aftermath of the scene felt creepy, so I’m sure the movie itself will serve up plenty of scares for the audience. Much more to come on this movie, scheduled to open 2008, in Shivers.

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Images above © DreamWorks
Feature © 2007 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Shivers, September 2007 cover

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