Thursday, 4 April 2013
Georges Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE (LES YEUX SANS VISAGE)
After watching Holy Motors, I decided to watch the movies referenced in the film starting with George Franju's Eyes Without a Face. I had seen this film more than two decades ago so I went into it braced for time to have done its worst but surprisingly, I think I enjoyed it more than I did before. It's a real treat when a film doesn't diminish but grows with time and this is the case with Eyes Without a Face.
As the movie begins, the tone of the film is set by Maurice Jarre's playful but haunting music paired with night scenes that made me recall Anton Karas' music in The Third Man. On the surface, it doesn't seem to fit but over the course of the film you realise that this is a dark, modern fairytale and Jarre's music is perfect.
The basic premise is that a prominent and well respected doctor is obsessed with trying to restore his daughter's face which was irreparably damaged in a car accident. Less mad scientist but more Captain Ahab, Doctor Génessier played brilliantly by Pierre Brasseur is both menacing and sympathetic. Clues are scattered throughout the film to hint at why he is so single minded in his determination. There's also some questions in regard to how complicit Christiane Génessier(Edith Scob) is in her father's plan. It's also worth noting how evocative Edith Scob's performance is despite the fact that she's wearing a mask for much of the film.
I mentioned The Third Man earlier and Eugen Schüfftan's cinematography is also very noir with most scenes occuring at night, in darkened rooms or in fog. It's a beautiful film to look at and though it is more than 50 years old, the effects are still quite convincing and difficult to watch. On its initial release, it confounded critics but has since gained a considerable reputation and has influenced a number of film makers.
It's an odd, ambiguous film but certainly worth your 90 minutes for its lyrical tempo, compelling story and unique atmosphere.
Eyes Without a Face (Wiki)
Eyes Without a Face (IMDB)