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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Widescreen
  • French PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Blood of the Beasts, Georges Franju's 1949 documentary about the slaughterhouses of Paris
  • Archival interviews with Franju on horror, cinema, and the making of Blood of the Beasts
  • New interview with actor Edith Scob
  • Excerpt from Les Grands-pčres du crime, a 1985 documentary about Eyes Without a Face writers Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
  • Trailers

Eyes Without a Face

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Georges Franju
Starring: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli
1960 | 90 Minutes | Licensor: Gaumont

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #260
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: October 15, 2013
Review Date: November 11, 2013

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SYNOPSIS

At his secluded chateau in the French countryside, a brilliant, obsessive doctor (Pierre Brasseur) attempts a radical plastic surgery to restore the beauty of his daughter's disfigured countenance-at a horrifying price. Eyes Without a Face, directed by the supremely talented Georges Franju, is rare in horror cinema for its odd mixture of the ghastly and the lyrical, and it has been a major influence on the genre in the decades since its release. There are images here-of terror, of gore, of inexplicable beauty-that once seen are never forgotten.

Forum members rate this film 9/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face gets a Blu-ray upgrade from Criterion, who present the film with a new 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer. The film is again framed 1.66:1 widescreen and is delivered on a dual-layer disc.

After the major disappointment that was “the Earrings of Madame de…” transfer, the one we get for Eyes Without a Face, another Gaumont licenced title, probably could have gone either way. Thankfully it’s nowhere near the over processed mess that was Madame de…. Eyes Without a Face delivers a stable, exceedingly filmic look, natural looking and clean. Film grain is fine and rendered perfectly, while the picture delivers crisp lines and distinguishable finer details. Both long shots and close-ups manage to provide a staggering amount of detail.

Contrast looks solid, with inky blacks that don’t crush and excellent shadow delineation. The print still presents a few minor flaws such as a few specs scattered about and some faint if noticeable scratches or tram lines, but does improve quite a bit over the DVD in this area. The DVD looked pretty good, but this transfer, which is obviously a newer one, offers a significant improvement over its predecessor.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

I didn’t find the lossless linear PCM 1.0 mono track to offer much of an improvement over its DVD counterpart, but the track is at least clean and free of background noise. There’s a bit of distortion present in the film’s delightful yet odd score but it’s otherwise clear, and voices are easy to here and sound decent enough. There is a general hollowness to the track, though, which does give it a flat quality.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion’s Blu-ray upgrade carries over all features, even offering improvements and new material. The first big feature is Franju’s first film, Blood of the Beasts, a short 22-minute documentary on the Paris slaughterhouses. It’s a rough film to view, no matter your views on such subject matter, and Franju’s presentation, which is very matter-of-fact, simply catching the action without judgment, doesn’t make it any less difficult. An interview with actress Edith Scob found on this disc (exclusive to this Blu-ray) mentions Franju’s fascination with dissection and that’s certainly found here. Not at all for the squeamish.

The film does also receive a new high-definition presentation that looks natural and filmic, delivering a sharp picture that maybe delivers the rather horrifying details a little too well. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like much went into the actual restoration since the print doesn’t look to be in that much better shape in comparison to the DVD’s delivery, but again the transfer itself is very good.

Accompanying this film are excerpts from two interviews with director Georges Franju that totals about 3-minutes. He talks briefly about the film and why he made it, and addresses why he’d rather it not have been shot in colour: it would have been far too horrible to watch if it was.

New to this Blu-ray is a 9-minute interview with actress Edith Scob, who played Christiane in the film. She recalls how she was cast and what it was like filming Eyes Without a Face, particularly what it was like having to wear that mask, the make-up (which was shot out of focus anyways since it looked too fake for Franju’s tastes,) and briefly talks about the fear of working with the rather large dogs. She also talks a little about Franju, his interests, and his style. Short but a great inclusion that I’m glad Criterion went to the trouble of getting.

Criterion then includes a shy-of 6-minute excerpt from a 1985 French television episode called Le fantastique, which presents Franju talking to someone in a mad scientist outfit (on a mad scientist set) about his approach to horror, feeling good horror is more natural and doesn’t intend to be scary to begin with. He also brings up some aspects of Eyes Without a Face, even touching on concerns about censorship in various countries.

Following this is a roughly 7-minute excerpt from a the documentary film Les grands-pčres du crime, which goes over the working relationship between authors Pierre Boileau and Thomas Nacejac, who not only wrote the novel on which Eyes Without Face was based, but are also the minds behind other classics like Vertigo and Diabolique. Getting interviews with the two they talk about their writing process and how they first started working together.

The disc then concludes with two theatrical trailers: the original French one, and the American one, which presented the film in a double-bill.

The included booklet looks to be the same, including an essay on the film by Patrick McGrath and another on the film, Franju, and his influences by David Kalat.

Not a lavish edition but it offers a decent look at the film and Franju’s career.

6/10

CLOSING

Criterion gives Georges Franju’s horror masterpiece a worthwhile Blu-ray upgrade, delivering a noticeably better image. It comes with a high recommendation.


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