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Neil Mitchell

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781906733728

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906733728.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 09 December 2021

Carrie: An Analysis

Carrie: An Analysis

(p.43) Part 3: Carrie: An Analysis

Neil Mitchell

Liverpool University Press

This chapter presents a detailed analysis of Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976). The director's stylistic approach to adapting Stephen King's source material is the primary reason that the finished movie has engendered such a variety of critical reactions as well as its narrative resonating so deeply with viewing audiences. Carrie is a tightly controlled, rhythmical exercise in audience manipulation that constantly confounds audience identification and expectation. Though certain set piece sequences — the shower room sequence, the ‘Last Supper’, the prom massacre, Sue's nightmare — offer the clearest avenue for assessing De Palma's vision of the material and the subsequent critical readings of them, the film works as a complete narrative because of its integration of gentler, comedic, and romantic sequences. Duality — of scenes, techniques, characters, motifs and symbolic imagery — is a strong influence throughout, tying together opposing forces, reflecting alternate viewpoints, and periodically reminding the audience that none of the principal figures are clearly defined ‘character types’. Similarly, the dominant text and underlying subtexts addressed in the complete movie and in its individual sequences reveals how Carrie can alternately be viewed as pop culture, mythologised horror, and politicised cultural critique. By looking at its key themes/motifs and their deployment in specific scenes/sequences, including how themes/motifs bleed into each other and how scenes/sequences play off each other, a complete appreciation of De Palma's enduringly resonant movie can be gleaned.

Keywords:   Brian De Palma, Carrie, Stephen King, audience manipulation, set piece sequences, duality, pop culture, mythologised horror, politicised cultural critique

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