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Eyes Without a Face

Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage) is a 1960 horror film directed by Georges Franju and starring Pierre Brasseur, Édith Scob, and Alida Valli, and with Juliette Mayniel as well, who I saw recently in her debut film, Les Cousins (1959). I've read that Eyes Without a Face got terrible reviews after its initial release, with critics either voicing their disgust of particular scenes or accusing Franju of being unoriginal or ripping off German expressionism. Decades later it is now included in the Criterion Collection and found listed among the greats of the horror genre.

The only other film which came to mind watching this was Ridley Scott's Hannibal (2001)—I suppose because of the big dogs (not big pigs) and all the messing about with flesh, and because of the emptiness of the psychopathic characters. There's no cannibalism, however; it's a black-and-white mad scientist tale that's extraordinarily gruesome in its depiction of skin grafting and subsequent rejection of the graft, in this case a whole face. Need I say more?

Over the years after its release, a number of European filmmakers would be inspired by the film and incorporate themes and elements of it into their own pictures. Billy Idol's song "Eyes Without a Face" (1983) also came to be because of the movie, he's said. And it's been reported that the Michael Myers character in the Halloween series owes his signature mask to the 1960 Franju film, and if that's true, then Eyes Without a Face has not only had an impact on countless films but has also seeped fairly widely into the popular consciousness.

Édith Scob as Christiane Génessier in Eyes Without a Face
Édith Scob in Eyes Without a Face


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