260 Eyes Without a Face

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Martha
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260 Eyes Without a Face

#1 Post by Martha » Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:36 pm

Eyes Without a Face:

[img]http://criterion_production.s3.amazonaws.com/release_images/1397/260_box_348x490_w128.jpg[/img] Image

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.

Disc Features

- New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- Blood of the Beasts, Georges Franju’s 1949 documentary about the slaughterhouses of Paris (new high-definition digital restoration on the Blu-ray edition)
- Archival interviews with Franju on horror, cinema, and the making of Blood of the Beasts
- New interview with actor Edith Scob (Blu-ray only)
- Excerpt from Les Grands-pères du crime, a 1985 documentary about Eyes Without a Face writers Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
- Trailers
- Stills gallery of rare production photos and promotional material (DVD only)
- Plus: A booklet featuring essays by novelist Patrick McGrath and film historian David Kalat

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jesus the mexican boi
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#2 Post by jesus the mexican boi » Sat Nov 06, 2004 10:26 am

Curious as to what the forumrunners think about Franju's semi-surrealist documentary BLOOD OF THE BEASTS (which sounds like giallo, and sort of is). I'm considering using it in my freshman English composition course as a springboard for discussion on animal rights. Maybe a good doublefeature with SUPER SIZE ME ("Reasons Why I'm a Vegan") or that Bo Derek save-the-horses-from-the-abattoir documentary.

I think it's an obviously powerful document. Not sure it would have been feasible at the time to do it in color, but Franju says he chose B&W purposely because color would have been "obscene." As it is, perhaps the B&W lends a layer of detachment. But the film retains a powerful impact.

Juxtapositions abound. One of my favorites, mattress springs which seem to grow like metal flowers at the feet of playing children.

Some similar ground explored (briefly) by Bunuel in EL BRUTO (1952)... in which the title character is a butcher in a slaughterhouse, the whole eviscerations monitored by a statuette of the Virgin in a small alcove...

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#3 Post by Tribe » Sat Nov 06, 2004 11:09 am

Blood of the Beasts is a goddamn masterpiece! The horrendous, stark shots here have a subtle beauty that in many ways remind me of some of the shots that Lynch used in Eraserhead to reveal hidden textures in the organic that are not otherwise apparent.

I'm not a believer in the so-called Animal Rights agenda (I still like my pork chops and ribs), but regardless the viewer can't help but feel immense sympathy for the creatures being only seconds away from death. Not to mention the "reactions" of the animals lined up for slaughter...they have to have some realization of their fate. And there is a sort of quiet dignity in the methodical way the butchers go about their tasks...I didn't get the sense that they particularly enjoyed what they were doing. There appears to be a sense of getting it all over as quickly as possible. Of course, this may be due more to the realities of the workplace where capital and industry demand speed in the production line.

This short is just filled with beauty, notwithstanding the repulsiveness of what's before the camera.

And it also appeared to me that Franju used some of these strategies when he made Eyes Without a Face. I can't remember right now, but if I recall correctly there are moments of dialogue in Eyes which seem to refer back in a rather overt way to the unspoken thoughts behind Blood of the Beasts. The face peeling scene has to owe its genesis to some of the scenes in Blood.

John

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#4 Post by rskjels » Tue Nov 23, 2004 6:51 pm

Sorry if this has been mentioned in a former forum.

In "Le Fantastique" (tv-excerpt on the dvd), Georges Franju discusses a medical film where a doctor opens the skull of a living person that is sitting there and smiling to the camera.

I wonder if this medical film is the inspiration for the "brain eating" scene in Hannibal?

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#5 Post by criterionsnob » Tue Nov 23, 2004 11:34 pm

hektor wrote:The slaughterhouse scene also reminded me of Maîtresse
Yeah, I just realized I own Blood of the Beasts, Maitresse, In A Year With 13 Moons, and that Brakhage human autopsy film. As brilliant as they all are, I think I've had my fill of these sorts of images.

I watched Blood of the Beasts last night and so far today have eaten only vegan food.

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#6 Post by Martha » Fri Dec 10, 2004 9:02 pm

Ok, so I'm thinking about watching this tonight but am sort of afraid to turn it on-- if I watch it alone, will it make me unable to sleep? Before weighing in, keep in mind that I do not deal with horror movies well in general but am willing to make an exception in the names of Art and Culture.

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#7 Post by Tribe » Fri Dec 10, 2004 9:40 pm

Ok, so I'm thinking about watching this tonight but am sort of afraid to turn it on-- if I watch it alone, will it make me unable to sleep? Before weighing in, keep in mind that I do not deal with horror movies well in general but am willing to make an exception in the names of Art and Culture.
I don't think so, Martha. This comes off more as a *shudder* "art film." Yeah, there is one scene that can be gruesome....but I didn't find it anything to lose sleep over. On the other hand, if you are queasy, Blood of the Beasts is not for you.

John

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#8 Post by Martha » Fri Dec 10, 2004 9:51 pm

John wrote:I don't think so, Martha. This comes off more as a *shudder* "art film." Yeah, there is one scene that can be gruesome....but I didn't find it anything to lose sleep over.
Thanks, John-- that's exactly what I wanted to hear. I'll give it a shot.

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#9 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Dec 23, 2004 10:54 pm

Having just watched Blood of the Beasts, I'm struck by the gruesome beauty of it, the stark surrealism. It manages to make the real seem fantastic: a line of decapitated sheep flailing and struggling in unison; limbless calves suddenly struggling against those flaying them, their heads tossed with casual abandon against a wall; the rivers of blood on the floor.

It seems very much the same style Franju chose for Eyes Without a Face, a movie which didn't aim for the outright fantastical, playing itself with a stark realism.

Not a fun watch--I wasn't as fascinated by it as The Act of Seeing With One's Own Eyes. But none the less I enjoyed it (just not in the usual way).

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#10 Post by denti alligator » Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:59 pm

I loved both of these films and am wondering if Franju's other films are as good.

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#11 Post by Andre Jurieu » Wed Jan 19, 2005 3:29 pm

I watched this again last night and two things stood out to me during the film. First, while watching the sequence where Christiane drifts through the mansion, descends downstairs into the "operating" room, and wanders into the room holding all the dogs in cages, it struck me how rare it is in modern movies to have an entire sequence unfold without any dialogue. The sequence within this film becomes rather eerie because the only real noise during this moment is the whining, whimpering, and barking from the caged canines, which continues to grow louder and louder as Christiane descends further down into the basement of the mansion. It strikes me as odd to have forgotten this technique, considering its so effective in setting a proper mood and atmosphere (of suspense). It's not just Franju's film either, considering it works just as well in Rififi in creating tension during the bank-robbery.

The other thing I was amused by was the theme music for Louise. It's so upbeat it borders on comical, but underneath it is this rather creepy background. I found that it really added to the tone, since it kind of represents the fact that these initial meeting between Louise and her victims are friendly and polite, but in reality the chance encounter is a rather perversely calculated arrangement. I really can't recall a similar technique being used in present-day thrillers, unless you count the rather crappy child's nursery rhyme technique, which isn't all that original anymore.

Anyway, great film overall, but some part of me cannot shake the feeling that if someone created a similar film today in English, we might dismiss it as bland.
Last edited by Andre Jurieu on Wed Jan 19, 2005 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#12 Post by Narshty » Wed Jan 19, 2005 3:43 pm

It might be dismissed as bland, or indeed a self-conscious attempt to harken back to the days of silent cinema, which is ironic since Eyes Without A Face is so startlingly modern in many ways.

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Re: 260 Eyes Without a Face

#13 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 19, 2005 4:12 pm

Andre Jurieu wrote: it works just as well in Rififi in creating tension
SpoilerShow
during the bank-robbery
.
You call that a spoiler? Here's a spoiler for you:
SpoilerShow
The ship sinks in Titanic

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#14 Post by Andre Jurieu » Wed Jan 19, 2005 4:22 pm

zedz wrote:
Andre Jurieu wrote: it works just as well in Rififi in creating tension
SpoilerShow
during the bank-robbery
.
You call that a spoiler?
Yeah, you're right. I have no idea why I decided to make that a spoiler. I guess I thought it might ruin the sequence for anyone who hasn't watched the film. Considering it's a fairly well-known sequence, I think I'll edit my post.

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#15 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 19, 2005 4:39 pm

SpoilerShow
Nah. It just adds to the mystery.

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#16 Post by lord_clyde » Thu Jan 20, 2005 3:40 am

You call that a spoiler? Here's a spoiler for you:
SpoilerShow
The ship sinks in Titanic
You bastard! I haven't seen that yet, all I know is Kate Winslet gets naked and the old lady throws away a necklace! Oops, I hope I didn't ruin it for anybody else.

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#17 Post by Martha » Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:17 am

This wildly clever banter is incredibly entertaining, but let's get back to the mundane topic of the thread, please.

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#18 Post by Max von Mayerling » Fri Jan 28, 2005 12:07 am

It's not my intention to knock Eyes, but Blood of the Beasts is the reason I'm glad I own this disc. I have a pretty high tolerance for violence & brutality, but this thing made me squirm. But I guess it is important to me that some of my art makes me squirm. And to think how many times the acts in the film were repeated over & over. And then to think about the differences between the craftsman-like nature of the slaughter as opposed to what I understand is today's largely industrial-type slaughter. Similar, perhaps to the change in war - less one on one, more mechanized process. Some of the most powerful surrealist images I've ever seen - but not truly surreal at all - just plain realism, actually. The wriggling sheeps' legs are ... they leave me speechless. An incredibly beautiful and truly horrifying film.

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#19 Post by Lino » Sat May 14, 2005 9:51 am

denti alligator wrote:I loved both of these films and am wondering if Franju's other films are as good.
That's exactly what I was thinking today when I finished watching the whole contents of this amazing disc (BTW, I stupidly watched Blood of the Beasts right after lunch...).

I completely agree with Franju on what he says about finding the real horror in real life - it's so true. I find that I prefer watching movies, in fact, I'd rather watch movies than sit in front of the TV while the 1 o'clock news is on. It's an escape from reality as anything really and that's why I found Blood of the Beast so in-your-face while artistic at the same time. Powerful stuff indeed.

And after a quick search online I was dismayed to find that there isn't virtually anything more out on DVD from this man! What an injustice. I do hope more are on the way.

Can anyone elaborate on his other movies and which ones are recommendable?

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#20 Post by david hare » Sat May 14, 2005 5:39 pm

It sounds absurd But I still have to fast forward through most of Le Sang des Betes, yet I can calmly watch the human flesh eating scenes in Trouble Every Day

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#21 Post by Galen Young » Thu Jun 09, 2005 1:26 am

In case any fans of La Sang des Betes are interested, there is a beautifully produced book called Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painleve that features the complete text of the film written by Painlev� in a layout with stills from the film.

I've always thought of Les Yeux sans Visage is a kind progenitor to the oeuvre of David Cronenberg. It's like discovering buried treasure!
Last edited by Galen Young on Thu Sep 29, 2005 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#22 Post by analoguezombie » Tue Aug 16, 2005 3:44 pm

I think it's interesting that the majority of serious critical discussion in this thread relates to Blood of the Beasts and not Eyes Without a Face, which to me is the more profound and stellar work on this dvd.

Eyes, seems to be a bridge between the more classic gothic horror films of Universal, and what we know of today as the slasher genre. In a time when most horror films dealt with mutants, aliens, or were just gothic retreads (see: Corman's Poe films) Franju went in a different direction entirely, while still being aware of the lineage of the genre. For example: the scene in the cemetary inwhich the Dr. and his assistant are opening his daughter's crypt. The scene and setting are all very familiar gothic archetypes. Franju uses the sound and image of a modern jetliner to remind us that this is indeed taking place in today's world. So too, the use of the slightly comical music for the assistant's ventures into town. It's very cheesy and at the beginning of the film makes you think it will just be another schlocky flick. The way the film turns the genre conventions on their head again and again, while maintaining the mood and feeling of the best horror films of the past is amazing.

What really stood out for me though, was the care that was taken with Christiane. A truly horrifying portraly in the realism of her madness. Franju, though, will not let us simply dismiss her as a 'monster' though, for she remains the most innocent of the main characters, and eventually fulfills that promise.

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#23 Post by Gordon » Thu Sep 15, 2005 8:17 am

I managed to find an original 1968 copy of Raymond Durgnat's, Franju on the web. And it arrived today. Durgnat was a wonderful, poetic 'critic' - a label he hated - and his thoughts on Franju are sublime and insightful, with quotes from Franju that I have not read elsewhere.

Both this and Durgnat's book on Bunuel are long overdue a reprinting. As is the mesmerizing Films and Feelings (1967). And damn, do we need a Criterion DVD of Judex.

Durgnat died in 2002.
Last edited by Gordon on Mon Sep 19, 2005 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#24 Post by pmunger » Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:38 am


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#25 Post by Gordon » Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:36 am

I just heard a discussion on the radio about this. Remember that the transplanted 'face' is just skin and the bone-structure of the patient will mold a new appearance to the skin and the patient will not look identical to the donor. The complex movements of face mean that connecting the muscles and nerves will be very difficult.

But it is the psychological barrier that is the most worrisome aspect for doctors, surgeons and, more importantly, the patient.

In Franju's film, the transplant is a bit rough and I have wondered how the surgeon would cut around the eyes, nose and mouth. You'll never get an exact, perfect match and adjustments would have to be made. Modern stitching techniques are obviously better than in 1959, of course!

Scary stuff. I'd like to see a before and after.

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