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