The Others: What Really Happened to Charles Stewart?

In Film, The Menu by Akeem K. Duncan.9 Comments

The Others is a classic horror film with an famous twist that never gets stale. Although The Others partly mirrors the groundbreaking twist of M. Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense, the film’s nuanced narrative and neoclassical pace has made it a standout not only in the horror genre, but in cinema overall. Alejandro Amenábar’s third large film, The Others won eight Goya awards–the first for an english language film–and won three Saturn awards. It was also nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, which is said to be rare for a horror film.

Before we go any further, let us issue a server spoiler advisory for those who have been under a cinematic rock or those who are simply too yellow bellied and haven’t seen the film. If you are the former or the latter, DO NOT PASS GO.

Now that the children have left the room and we all know Nicole Kidman and her kids are ghosts, let us delve deeper into the plot–beyond the twist. While there is a wealth of symbology and easter eggs in The Others that fans of the movie have uncovered, there is one question that has gone unanswered for the most part:

What happened to Charles Stewart?

Yes, Charles Stewart played Christopher Eccleston. Husband to Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman). Father to Anne Stewart (Alakina Mann) and little, oft frightened Nicholas Stewart (James Bentley). Charles Stewart left for World War II and failed to come home even a year after the conflict was resolved… until nope. The catalyst for Grace Stewart’s psychotic break that resulted in her murdering her two children and offing herself Cobain style, the mystery of Charles’ disappearance seemed to resolved; but something wasn’t right. A distraught and fractured looking Charles stayed in bed for most of the time and when he did decide to leave the bed he also decided to leave the house–for good.

Unlike like the ominous and telling presence of the three servants, which included the incomparable Fionnula Flanagan, that was eventually  the husbands somberly sudden and brief appearance leaves you guessing. Even before examining his departure there is the initial enigma that surrounds how the hell he got there in the first place. According to standard haunting rules, a person’s ghost is usually confined to the place where said person perished. If that is the case, how and why did the husband’s ghost make the trek back home? Was it an undying desire to returning to his family that spurred his spirit to walk over a thousand miles? If so, why did he leave after finally reuniting with them?

Some point out that Kidman’s character hinted that the couple was having issues prior and their disconnect drove him to join the war as a means escaping their marital problems. Maybe upon returning Charles saw that nothing has changed and things have in fact gotten worse. This realization caused him to pack up his things and leave. Maybe Flanagan’s character whispered in his ear and revealed to him that he was dead. Or better yet, maybe she told what happened to the children “on that day“–a phrase that was also uttered by his daughter earlier in the film.

Another strong theory is that Charles wasn’t dead at all and was simply a grieving visitor who the current occupants allowed to stay the night. Gasp! This is by far is the most interesting theory. If this were true then in retrospect that would make Charles’ sudden appearance more significant than any other foreshadowing occurrence in the film. This gives this great film yet another poignant layer.

What do you think? Tell your theory as to why Charles Stewart left his family after searching for them for so long through the fog.

Comments

  1. He said “sometimes I bleed”. He was dead… period

    1. I think in the movie the OTHERS. that the husband is indeed ALIVE and after thousand of miles to find them he would not have left until he found out that the mother had murdered the children and herself. After being in war and seeing so much unwanted death he could not forgive his wife. But if he was alive how was he able to SEE THEM just as the OTHERS can’t see the dead.

    2. Yes he was . Or he would not have been able to see them as the alive people could not. Common sense tells us this on the movie.

      1. But wait, two of the “intruders” could see the children. Victor could see them and he was alive, the old lady could see them as well.

  2. Agree. The guy had to ho back to apologise. His going to the war and leaving his wife alone made her crazy and he feels responsible.
    Just went back to say: “I am sorry”. Then he left forever.

  3. The husband’s appearance is is bc the wife is dead. He’s already dead and was dead before the wife kills herself. The wife basically finds him as rather a conscious-deterant. She’s dead and tries to leave the house. It fogged up bc she can’t go far. The husband is dead and becomes a distraction for the wife. Ma Mills sums up the husband when she says he doesn’t know where he is.

    The main plot of the movie is getting the family to realize they are dead. They know their mother smothered them but that’s all bc they were already dead when she’s shot herself. Her mind had to open. When it did, she began to heal.

  4. I was just watching the movie again right now, and there’s a part where the three servants are together, and Mr Tuttle says “do you think the husband knows?” – which leads me to believe that he’s not really dead after all. If he were dead, wouldn’t he understand what the hell was going on in the house? He also never interacts with the servants at all, as if he doesn’t see them.

    He also confronts her with what “happened that day” – which leads me to believe that he knows she’s dead, and he’s communicating with her ghost and the ghosts of the children.

    So confusing!!

  5. Let me know if this makes sense to anyone:
    I read one post that said the husband was indeed dead, but had to return to the trenches where he had died.
    “I bleed sometimes” was a weird thing for him to say, yet Nicole’s character didn’t even flinch when he said it.
    I take it to mean that he bleeds from time to time as he relives the moment of his death. Perhaps because this
    movie has religious undertones, it means that he bleeds eternally in Purgatory. Even though it was in the face of war and it was demanded of him to kill his enemies, he did kill others. He wanted to return to the house to say one last good bye to his wife and children. I have to wonder if the other ghosts/spirits didn’t send the husband through the fog at that exact moment to stop Nicole’s character from pursuing her journey into town. She most likely would not be able to go much further than she did anyway since she was bound to the house and the grounds, but she did not know that. 
    If I recall correctly there was one scene where the husband was lying in bed with his children, one on each side with his arms outstretched to hug each of them. His daughter whispered in his ear what the mother had done and I believe that added more pain to his already haunted fate. In a scene shortly thereafter I recall him lying in bed, arms stretched out with no children present. He then turned and was lying on his side in a catatonic state as if he had just died again. Nicole’s character tried to talk to him, but got no response. Perhaps this was the final “nail in the coffin” so to speak when his soul left and he was pulled towards the place he belonged, no more wandering, he could not stay in the house because his final resting place was in the trenches. 

  6. Just watched this again tonight…beyond the husband return…I was con founded by Grace, in her proper Catholicism was still there among the other dead when she killed herself….a mortal sin..the others died by reasons beyond their hand…but Grace committed suicide…why is she not in hell while the others remain as ghosts?

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