Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Random Movie Report #3: Eyes Without A Face

EYES WITHOUT A FACE is the story of Doctor Génessier (Pierre Brasseur), a surgeon whose lovely daughter Christiane (Edith Scob) is horribly disfigured in an accident. Having done some research into skin transplantation, Génessier tries a novel approach: kidnapping young girls, removing their faces and transplating them onto the space on his daughter's head where a face ought to be. It's your classic macabre Euro-thriller setup, the tone set early on by an opening on a lonely country road and a skeletal theme by Maurice Jarre.

Then it gets weird(er). Instead of following the standard horror-mystery structure, the film unfolds in a slow, almost dreamlike manner, taking time to establish the place- the country house, the lab beneath, the dog kennel next door- and concentrating on Christiane's own sense of imprisonment, both in the house and the mask she wears. The ugliness of the crimes (the film is surprisingly gory for 1959) is offset by our perverse interest into whether Génessier can actually make this thing work.

The Criterion DVD suffers from an occasionally overbright transfer (and I tried dialing down the brightness and picture settings on the TV); this doesn't make much of a difference, but it's a bit odd for them. It's worth a look anyway, and not just for apparently inspiring a Billy Idol song.

Director: Georges Franju
Writers: Pierre Boileau, Pierre Fascar, Thomas Narcejac, Jean Redon, Claude Sautet
From the novel by Jean Redon

Grade: A-

No comments: