Friday, 8 November 2013

Eyes Without a Face [1960]

In the pantheon of horror cinema, Georges Franju’s arthouse classic Eyes without a Face holds an important place for its facile mix of the genre’s sensibilities with disconcerting psychological overtones. The director brilliantly captured the grotesque with the melancholic with equal ease, and imbued the movie with moodiness and poetic realism, thus resulting in a disquieting yet surprisingly tender examination of society’s obsession with physical beauty and perfection, and the age-old philosophical debates on the acceptable realms of science. Doctor Génessier (Pierre Brasseur), a renowned expert on heterograft surgeries for facial reconstruction, decides to take things a step further when the face of her beautiful daughter (Edith Scob) gets damaged in an accident. With the help of his eerily loyal assistant (Alida Valli), he starts kidnapping young attractive ladies in order to transplant their faces to her daughter. The result was a grisly depiction of the length to which a man can go to bring her daughter’s beauty back, and the more he fails, the more he becomes entrapped in an inescapable vicious cycle. The gothic premise and Franju’s portrayal of the monstrous underbelly of human psyche was accentuated manifold by the expressionistic photography and coldly chilling atmospheric. Simultaneously, the fragile girl’s entrapment in her father’s labyrinthine mansion, and being declared dead to the world outside despite being alive, added strong poignant touches, as did the beautifully haunting score. The film, which was released in the US under the bizarre title of The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus in a ludicrous attempt to draw the B-movie crowd, reminded me a lot of Teshigahara's The Face of Another.

Director: Georges Franju
Genre: Horror/Psychological Horror/Gothic Film
Language: French
Country: France

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