The Others is a film about a woman named Grace, played by Nicole Kidman, and her two children who are photosensitive. The family of three live in a mansion located in Jersey while Grace tirelessly waits for her husband to come home from the Second World War. Sinister things begin to happen as the family follows oppressive, religious inspired and odd rules designed to protect the children from sunlight… and other things. Directed and written by Alejandro Amenábar, this thriller from 2001 is a must-see classic. Check out various screen facts below.
Photosensitivity is Real
A key feature of the plot is Grace’s children are photosensitive and cannot come into direct contact with sunlight. This condition is real, but is called Xeroderma Pigmentosum, or XP for short. Signs and symptoms of XP appear in infancy or early ages where extreme sunburns appear after mere minutes in sunlight. The condition is super rare, estimated to only affect approximately 1 in million people.
Timing with Divorce
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise finalized their divorce the same week that The Others released. Cruise was the executive producer of this film making it their final project together. The celebrity power couple had also worked together on Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Days of Thunder (1990) and Far and Away (1992) among other projects.
In one of the scenes of The Others, Grace finds an old photograph album with pictures of people who appeared to be asleep. Another character, Mrs. Mills, confirms that they’re actually dead and this was common practice in the 19th century.
This disturbing comment is actually true. In the 19th century, people commonly photographed their deceased family because photos were expensive. People wanted a way to remember their loved ones, but literally waited until the last minute to capture the moment. Most were pictured laying down, as if asleep, while creepier pictures had dead people propped up in chairs interacting with others or enjoying their favourite hobbies. The fact that photographing dead people in the 19th century was common practice is absolutely morbid, but was a way to grieve and commemorate loved ones.
Nicole Kidman’s Hesitation
Initially, Nicole Kidman wasn’t going to accept the role of Grace. She had just finished Moulin Rouge, which was also released in 2001, and felt that The Others was too dark of a film to follow. In the end, she took the part.
But her hesitation didn’t end there. During rehearsals, she quit because the acting gave her nightmares. “At one point I didn’t want to make the film because I couldn’t even go there emotionally,” Kidman said.