Monday, 12 April 2010

Movie Psychic Monday

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek)
Carrie (1976)

Poor Carrie White never stood a chance; adolescence, burgeoning metaphorical telekinetic powers, a raving psychotic, religious fanatic mother and a school full of unmitigated gits. Carrie demonstrates clearly why teenagers suck and why school days, far from being the happiest days of your life, are in fact more often than not merely a gamut of self revulsion, humiliation and shame. Or so I’m told, my school days were relatively bland and non-descript except for a brief period of excitement whereby I impersonated a prefect for a month. And we didn’t have proms in Britain in those days so I never had to worry about not being able to get a date, which was entirely more healthy, if you ask me.

Carrie White is the quintessential underdog; emotionally crippled by her mother, mercilessly terrorised by her peers and completely unprepared to negotiate the harsh realities of her own existence. But, she ultimately becomes one the scariest and most destructive of the movie psychics.

We’re conditioned early in the film to feel empathy for Carrie’s character. She’s that self conscious, chronically insecure, powerless and pathetic part of ourselves that we’re loath to admit to, and as a result we partially empathise with her and partially despise her for reminding us of it. At first it’s tough not to get vicarious pleasure in seeing Carrie discovering her powers and extracting some long due revenge on her tormentors. Ok, so granted, causing small boys, regardless of how ghastly they are, to have bicycling accidents isn’t admirable, but there’s something a bit satisfying about seeing Carrie finally fight back and in seeing the bratty kid take a tumble.

So Carrie makes us question our notions of right and wrong, instead of the more usual vague sense of emotional unease most of us get at the onset of menstruation, Carrie gets super telekinetic powers and we’re thrilled that the downtrodden victim finally has the capacity to improve her situation. But it all goes horribly wrong. A hilarious plot is hatched, and surprising well executed considering a bunch of teenagers were involved, to humiliate little Carrie, and it ends in predictable tears, which any mother could have told you, not Carrie’s mother obviously she’d say that they were all going to laugh her so sometimes crazy is right.

All of this makes me rather glad of my bland non-descript, untroubled adolescence, a childhood which is quite surprising considering I was a chubby, ginger, bespectacled child, Actually, come to think of it, I was a freak, I looked like a particularly rotund hyperopic piglet that had fallen into a school uniform, and I was unjustifiably precocious, Hell, I want to go back in time and bully me. (Fortunately I got contact lenses, lost the puppy fat and got hot at fifteen or this wouldn’t be funny in the slightest.) Really though, even only using me as a point of reference, Carrie didn’t really deserve what she got. Well, ultimately, I suppose she did, I don’t care how tough you’ve had it, missy, that’s no excuse for massacring a whole gym full of people with your crazy powers. Really, it’s not. Go to your room and think about what you've done.


  1. This is one of my all time favorite films, but my enjoyment of it has nothing to do with my crazy abusive mother or my nightmare scapegoat experiences in high school. I think I'll go cue up the scene where she crucifies Mom right now...

  2. I think it's a testament to Sissy Spacek that every time I watch the movie, I believe that things could turn out alright for her in the end. The pathos in her character is almost unbearable.

  3. Thank you all. I'm so glad everyone loves Carrie, it is an awesome movie and Ms. Spacek is utterly heartbreaking in it. I think everyone can relate to the sheer ghastliness of the teenage years to some extent and that lack of control and helplessness is expressed beautifully. Have to give kudos to Piper Laurie here too, she's hellishly terrific.



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