10 Spirited Facts About The Others

Miramax
Miramax

When Alejandro Amenábar's The Others was released in the summer of 2001, it was quickly hailed as an instant horror classic. The slow-burning Gothic ghost story follows a WWII-era mother named Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her two photosensitive children (Alakina Mann and James Bentley) living in a dimly-lit, isolated mansion on the remote isle of Jersey in the British Channel Islands. When her children begin talking about the ghosts they hear and see around the home, Grace must face a reality that her strict religious beliefs can't fathom.

Amenábar had already made a name for himself on the world cinema circuit at just 25 years old with 1997's Open Your Eyes, starring Penélope Cruz (which Cameron Crowe later remade as Vanilla Sky, also starring Penélope Cruz). But The Others turned the twenty-something director into a bona fide international player. With its spare cast and limited filming locations, the movie took in nearly $210 million worldwide on a modest $17 million budget. It won eight of the 15 Goya Awards (the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars) it was nominated for, with Amenábar taking home Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. But beyond the stats, here are some fascinating facts about the movie you might not have known.

1. THE FILM WAS ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO BE SET IN CHILE.

Director Amenábar holds dual Chilean-Spanish citizenship—he was born in his father's native Chile in 1972, and his family permanently moved to his mother's native Spain when he was 18 months old. His first two films had been successful Spanish-language films, and his original script for The Others was also in Spanish and set in southern Chile. When the decision was made to make the film in English, it was important to Amenábar to find a devoutly Catholic area in which to set it, so that the original religious symbolism of his Spanish script would still translate.

"When my producers read the script, they thought it was the perfect Victorian ghost tale, so they thought it would be more organic taking place in England," Amenábar told journalist Tony Earnshaw for Fantastique: Interviews with Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Filmmakers. Britain's Channel Islands, off the French coast of Normandy, were chosen in part because of their long Catholic tradition, and also their fraught wartime occupation. "I needed the husband to go to war and come back," Amenábar said of the film's narrative. "And when we decided to set it in England, it made sense to set it during the Second World War, and especially in these Islands, which were the only British territory occupied by the Nazis."

2. IT WAS SHOT IN ENGLISH BECAUSE OF TOM CRUISE.

Amenábar co-wrote and directed the 1997 psychological thriller Abre los Ojos (Open Your Eyes), which Tom Cruise decided to option after it screened at 1998's Sundance Film Festival. That movie was remade by Cameron Crowe as Vanilla Sky, with Cruise starring and producing. Though Amenábar was not involved in the production of Vanilla Sky, Cruise loved his script and wanted to work with him directly.

When Cruise later saw Amenábar's script for The Others, he sought to produce that film, too—on the condition that it be for an English-speaking audience. For Amenábar, The Others was only his third movie and he'd never done an English-language production before, but it felt like a gamble worth taking. "When you shoot a film in English you have a much more open market," Amenábar told The Guardian. "And then when Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman got involved, I knew that the destiny of the film was changing."

3. ALEJANDRO AMENÁBAR DIDN'T SPEAK ENGLISH.

 Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar attends the Fotogramas Magazine cinema awards 2017 at the Joy Eslava Club on March 6, 2017 in Madrid, Spain
Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images

Securing Hollywood heavyweights to champion him was somehow the easy part for Amenábar. "My very first concern [was working in a different language] because I didn't speak English at the time," he said, but he started learning the language and delegated what he needed to. "Once you decide to do a project which is not your natural language, what you have to do is rely on and trust people. We hired a very good English translator … I was open to change things in order to make it sound very, very British."

4. IT MADE HISTORY AT THE GOYA AWARDS.

The Others earned a total of eight Goya Awards, including Best Film. It's the first film to earn Spain's highest film honor in which not one word of Spanish is spoken.

5. NICOLE KIDMAN AND TOM CRUISE'S DIVORCE WAS FINALIZED TWO DAYS BEFORE THE MOVIE'S RELEASE.

Initial shooting for The Others took place in the summer of 2000, but news of Cruise and Kidman's separation came in February 2001, while The Others was in post-production. Their contentious, high-profile divorce was finalized just two days before the movie hit American theaters. (They settled their divorce on August 8, 2001; The Others arrived in theaters on August 10, 2001.)

"As exec producer of The Others, Tom Cruise has handed Kidman the most generous divorce settlement any working-thesp wife could ask for," Variety cynically noted in its otherwise positive review. And Amenábar said repeatedly that neither Kidman nor Cruise let their private drama affect their support or dedication to the film or its release. "Of course, personal lives are always a worry," he told The Guardian, "But these people are huge, hard workers and they were very devoted to the film. The fact that they both showed up at the premiere in L.A. just proves how supportive they were."

6. KIDMAN QUIT THE FILM DURING REHEARSALS.

Nicole Kidman in The Others (2001)
Miramax

During rehearsals and pre-production, the subject matter—and particularly [SPOILER] Grace's killing of her children—was giving Kidman such intense nightmares that she quit the project. "At one point I didn't want to make the film because I couldn't even go there emotionally," she has said. "It was still very difficult to exist in that state … when you’re doing an intense film the boundaries blur." Fortunately, Amenábar and his team were able to convince her to return to the film, but "I was so glad to step out of her in the end," Kidman said.

7. MOST OF THE FILM WAS SHOT IN SPAIN.

Amenábar might have been willing to alter the location and language of the film, but he insisted on filming it in Spain. The house used for the shoot, the Palacio de los Hornillos located in Cantabria, Spain, was designed in 1904 by London-based architect Ralph Selden Wornum as the country estate of the Duke of Santo Mauro. As such, it's one of the few examples of Victorian architecture in Spain.

The scene where Grace finds her husband returning home in a thick fog was shot along the Lime Walk at Kent's Penshurst Place, a popular filming location for British period pieces (and even part of The Princess Bride), but the rest was filmed in Madrid and the Hornillos estate with any outdoor scenes being coated in gray mist. The "results are Anglophilic through and through," Variety's Dennis Harvey wrote in his review of the film.

8. LIKE THE CHARACTERS THEY PLAYED, THE CHILD ACTORS WERE KEPT AWAY FROM SUNLIGHT DURING FILMING.

Nicole Kidman, Alakina Mann, and James Bentley in The Others (2001)
Miramax

Early in the movie, Grace explains that the curtains in her home must always stay closed because her children, Anne and Nicholas, have a severe allergy to light (the photosensitivity she describes may be xeroderma pigmentosum, a rare genetic disorder where the body can't properly protect or repair itself from UV damage). But actors Alakina Mann and James Bentley—who Amenábar said behaved like real siblings—also had to stay cloistered indoors for the duration of the three-and-a-half-month shoot.

"I was feeling sad for them, because they couldn't be exposed to sunlight, to keep their skin as white as possible," Amenábar told Nitrate Online. "Of course they were in makeup, but they had to stay pale. So when they went out, it was at night, like little vampires."

9. LIKE THE CHARACTER LYDIA, AMENÁBAR WENT MUTE FOR A YEAR.

In the movie, Grace insists that something traumatic must have happened to the kitchen girl, Lydia (Elaine Cassidy), for her to stop speaking. And at the end, the mysterious, all-knowing head servant Mrs. Mills (Fionnula Flanagan) reveals that Lydia went mute when she realized she was dead.

As a toddler, Amenábar himself dealt with something like selective mutism, an anxiety disorder that renders someone (usually a child) unable to speak or communicate. When his parents decided to flee Chile for Madrid just two weeks before General Pinochet's Chilean coup d'etat, Amenábar was 18 months old. "In Chile I had started to talk a bit, and in Spain I did not say anything for one year," he told the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2007.

10. AMENÁBAR APPEARS IN ONE OF THE OLD MOURNING "BOOK OF THE DEAD" PHOTOS.

Like Alfred Hitchcock and M. Night Shyamalan before him, Amenábar found a way to make a brief cameo in his horror flick. "Half of the photographs [in the film] are real and half are fakes," Amenábar said of the postmortem photographs Grace finds in the attic storage room. "We asked for originals and we lost them." Because of that, replicas were made, and the director appears in one of them.

10 of the Most Popular Portable Bluetooth Speakers on Amazon

Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon
Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon

As convenient as smartphones and tablets are, they don’t necessarily offer the best sound quality. But a well-built portable speaker can fill that need. And whether you’re looking for a speaker to use in the shower or a device to take on a long camping trip, these bestselling models from Amazon have you covered.

1. OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker; $26-$30 (4.4 stars)

Oontz portable bluetooth speaker
Cambridge Soundworks/Amazon

Of the 57,000-plus reviews that users have left for this speaker on Amazon, 72 percent of them are five stars. So it should come as no surprise that this is currently the best-selling portable Bluetooth speaker on the site. It comes in eight different colors and can play for up to 14 hours straight after a full charge. Plus, it’s splash proof, making it a perfect speaker for the shower, beach, or pool.

Buy it: Amazon

2. JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $110 (4.6 stars)

JBL portable bluetooth speaker
JBL/Amazon

This nifty speaker can connect with up to three devices at one time, so you and your friends can take turns sharing your favorite music. Its built-in battery can play music for up to 20 hours, and it can even charge smartphones and tablets via USB.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker; $25-$28 (4.6 stars)

Anker portable bluetooth speaker
Anker/Amazon

This speaker boasts 24-hour battery life and a strong Bluetooth connection within a 66-foot radius. It also comes with a built-in microphone so you can easily take calls over speakerphone.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker; $129 (4.4 stars)

Bose portable bluetooth speaker
Bose/Amazon

Bose is well-known for building user-friendly products that offer excellent sound quality. This portable speaker lets you connect to the Bose app, which makes it easier to switch between devices and personalize your settings. It’s also water-resistant, making it durable enough to handle a day at the pool or beach.

Buy it: Amazon

5. DOSS Soundbox Touch Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $28-$33 (4.4 stars)

DOSS portable bluetooth speaker
DOSS/Amazon

This portable speaker features an elegant system of touch controls that lets you easily switch between three methods of playing audio—Bluetooth, Micro SD, or auxiliary input. It can play for up to 20 hours after a full charge.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Altec Lansing Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $15-$20 (4.3 stars)

Altec Lansing portable bluetooth speaker
Altec Lansing/Amazon

This lightweight speaker is built for the outdoors. With its certified IP67 rating—meaning that it’s fully waterproof, shockproof, and dust proof—it’s durable enough to withstand harsh environments. Plus, it comes with a carabiner that can attach to a backpack or belt loop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speaker; $33-$38 (4.6 stars)

Tribit portable bluetooth speaker
Tribit/Amazon

Tribit’s portable Bluetooth speaker weighs less than a pound and is fully waterproof and resistant to scratches and drops. It also comes with a tear-resistant strap for easy transportation, and the rechargeable battery can handle up to 24 hours of continuous use after a full charge. In 2020, it was Wirecutter's pick as the best budget portable Bluetooth speaker on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

8. VicTsing SoundHot C6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $18 (4.3 stars)

VicTsing portable bluetooth speaker
VicTsing/Amazon

The SoundHot portable Bluetooth speaker is designed for convenience wherever you go. It comes with a detachable suction cup and a carabiner so you can keep it secure while you’re showering, kayaking, or hiking, to name just a few.

Buy it: Amazon

9. AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $30 (4.4 stars)

AOMAIS portable bluetooth speaker
AOMAIS/Amazon

This portable speaker is certified to handle deep waters and harsh weather, making it perfect for your next big adventure. It can play for up to 15 hours on a full charge and offers a stable Bluetooth connection within a 100-foot radius.

Buy it: Amazon

10. XLEADER SoundAngel Touch Bluetooth Speaker; $19-$23 (4.4 stars)

XLeader portable bluetooth speaker
XLEADER/Amazon

This stylish device is available in black, silver, gold, and rose gold. Plus, it’s equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, a more powerful technology that can pair with devices up to 800 feet away. The SoundAngel speaker itself isn’t water-resistant, but it comes with a waterproof case for protection in less-than-ideal conditions.

Buy it: Amazon

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5 Popular Back to the Future Fan Theories, Examined

Marty and Doc Brown were best friends. Too bad Doc had to kill him.
Marty and Doc Brown were best friends. Too bad Doc had to kill him.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

July marks the 35th anniversary of Back to the Future, the enduring sci-fi and comedy classic starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, an amiable teen who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Emmett "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Thanks to Doc's DeLorean time machine, Marty winds up in 1955 to save Doc’s life and to make sure his parents (Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson) fall in love, thereby ensuring his existence.

Fans of the film have spent the past several decades wrapping their minds around the movie’s time travel paradoxes and missing pieces of the plot. Take a look at some of the most popular theories, then check out Back to the Future and its sequels on Netflix to see if they carry any weight.

1. Marty McFly’s parents knew he was a time traveler.

Perhaps the biggest mystery of Back to the Future is why George and Lorraine McFly fail to notice that their grown son Marty bears a striking resemblance to the man they knew as “Calvin Klein” who dropped into their lives in 1955 to make sure their romance was intact. One theory explained by Redditor djbred18 offers that George and Lorraine did recognize him. “I mean they had 30 years to figure it out!” the user said. Crucially, George heard “Calvin” using the names of Darth Vader and the Vulcan race from Star Trek years before they materialized, a fact any science-fiction author like George would have picked up on. A scene late in the film where Marty’s parents give him a brand-new truck and offer a knowing smile could be read as a thank you for his efforts.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in 2020, Back to the Future co-screenwriter Bob Gale explained that they didn't make the connection: It was a simple case of Marty’s parents not recognizing the man they had spent just a few days with 30 years prior. “I would ask anyone to think back to their own high school days and ask themselves how well they remember a kid who might have been at their school for even a semester,” he said. “Or someone you went out with just one time. If you had no photo reference, after 25 years, you’d probably just have a hazy recollection.”

2. Doc Brown was suicidal.

While testing his DeLorean in the Twin Pines Mall parking lot, Doc Brown steps directly in front of the car traveling at 88 mph. The only way he wouldn’t be crushed is if his experiment succeeded and the car vanishes. Yet Doc makes mention of his other experiments being disappointing. Given his lack of confidence in his own abilities, standing in front of the car appears to be a death wish.

When asked about this theory by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 2018, Christopher Lloyd wasn’t buying into it. “I don’t think so,” Lloyd said. “Because Doc had so much confidence in what he was doing, he didn’t worry about that ... maybe a little doubtful, but Doc didn’t have a grim nature.”

However, Lloyd did add that: “You’ve given me a lot to think about though.”

3. Marty McFly’s actions altered his girlfriend’s appearance.

Elisabeth Shue, Michael J. Fox, and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future Part II' (1989)
Elisabeth Shue, Michael J. Fox, and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future Part II (1989).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

In the first Back to the Future, actress Claudia Wells portrays Jennifer Parker, Marty’s girlfriend. In 1989’s Back to the Future Part II, Elizabeth Shue took over the role because Wells was dealing with an illness in her family. For a series about time travel, it might be easy to explain why Jennifer’s appearance changes. According to Reddit user j1ggy, Marty’s presence resulted in unseen but demonstrative effects in the lives of Jennifer’s parents, possibly even resulting in Jennifer having a different mother or father. Because Marty seems slightly confused by Jennifer at the beginning of Back to the Future Part II, it’s possible he realizes he changed the past to the point that his girlfriend is now physically different.

4. Marty may have actually turned Biff Tannen’s life around.

At the beginning of Back to the Future, we see town bully Biff Tannen pushing around George McFly and demanding he perform Biff's work duties at their office. At the end of the film, Biff is in a subservient role, waxing George’s car as part of his work owning an auto detailing company. But, as Reddit user SatNav points out, that may have been best for Biff. He went from being dependent on George to assist him with his job to owning his own small business.

5. Doc Brown kills Marty.

At the conclusion of Back to the Future, time-traveling Marty returns from 1955 to witness 1985 Marty disappearing in the DeLorean. While that’s presumably Marty heading back to 1955, one theory has posited that Doc Brown is sending 1985 Marty either to his death or exiling him in time to make room for the returning 1955 Marty. Had he allowed 1985 Marty to continue living, he could have gone back to 1955 to meet the Marty already there. That, or two versions of Marty would have been running around Hill Valley in 1985.

Christopher Lloyd has dismissed this theory. “Doc would never send Marty off to his death, in any kind of scenario,” he told the CBC in 2018. “Doc couldn’t live with that.”