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One of the great figures of French cinema, Georges Franju (1912-1987) was the creator with Henri Langlois of the Cinémathèque Française in 1937, a pioneer film archivist, an offbeat documentarist and, finally, starting in his late 40s, a feature director most famous for this classic fantasy movie. The infinitely re-viewable Les yeux sans visage (as it was originally called) belongs in a tradition of horror combining the visceral, the philosophical and the psychological, ranging from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In, and it shocked and disgusted audiences when it appeared alongside Psycho and Peeping Tom in 1960.
A perverse fable about creation, hubris, misogyny, the illusion of physical perfection, the terrors of Auschwitz, the function of masks, it’s a film open to endless interpretations and full of unforgettable images, such as the masked daughter wandering about in the professor’s house like one of the sleepwalking beauties in an André Delvaux painting, or his dogs tearing the father apart like something in Greek mythology. Composer Maurice Jarre, veteran German cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan and screenwriters Thomas Narcejac and Pierre Boileau contribute mightily to the overwhelming overall effect.
Jarre composed several scores for Franju, including the sinister tinkling theme for barrel organ and strings in Eyes Without a Face, before going on to larger orchestral works for David Lean and various Hollywood directors. Schüfftan had come to prominence as an innovatory deviser of special effects in Germany during the 1920s, like the sets of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and he turns the misty, wintry Paris into a place of pearly dreamlike beauty. His next assignment was shooting Robert Rossen’s The Hustler in the US, which brought him an Oscar. Narcejac and Boileau, who were celebrated for having written Les diaboliques, had most recently seen their novel D’Entre les morts adapted by Hitchcock as Vertigo, which had been much better received in France than in the US. There are echoes of Vertigo here.
This BFI double-disc of Eyes Without a Face is accompanied by two Franju documentaries (though, unfortunately, not Le sang des bêtes (the notoriously unflinching record of a day in a Parisian abattoir, once a staple of film societies and guaranteed to make some viewers faint, throw up or head for the exit) and a spoken commentary by the American critic Tim Lucas. There’s also a booklet containing five useful essays and an engaging interview with the intelligent, articulate Edith Scob, who reminds us that she had a cameo role a couple of years ago in Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, where homage is paid to Franju.
Scob also figures in an informative 40-minute documentary, Les fleurs maladives de Georges Franju. He comes over as an engaging eccentric who thought film more real than life, was fascinated by surgery, never discussed matters of motivation with his performers (but, like Hitchcock, took a minute interest in their appearance, deportment and costumes), couldn’t decide whether he was a realist or a surrealist, and insisted that what interested him was anxiety rather than fear.
lansir dari: theguardian.com : Eyes Without a Face review – a work of poetic realism or surrealism