Q In The Others, Nicole Kidman finds an album of photos of well-dressed corpses. Her housekeeper tells her it was once common to photograph the recently deceased as a memento. Is she serious?
A Deadly. ”The Victorian memorial portrait was one of the social customs of the 19th century,” says Dr. Stanley Burns, whose New York City-based Burns Archive houses the nation’s largest collection of early medical photography. (He supplied Others’ producers with the photos used in the film — yes, they’re real.) Before the advent of cameras, such portraits were painted and the province of the wealthy. But by the late 1840s, ”nearly everyone could afford a postmortem photo of their loved ones.”