Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Celluloid captives

A dread pervades the Georges Franju 1960 horror classic "LES YEUX SANS VISAGE (EYES WITHOUT A FACE)," and it's not just the dread associated with the forced face transplantation experiments on kidnapped young women.
I think of it as the dread of captivity, the horror of being silently held, of being locked in to suffering circumstances.

Everywhere you look you see captives: The the doctor, held captive by his guilt about the car accident that robbed his daughter of her beauty; the daughter, held captive by the mask she's forced to wear, as well as her growing guilt over the treatment of the kidnapped women; the assistant, held captive by the debt she owes the doctor for restoring her own face and the captivity of the kidnapped women, the doctor's army of stray dogs and the caged birds.

I watched "Les Yeux Sans Visage" on DVD last night. This influential film is one of my favorites, and last night afforded me a chance to more closely examine Franju's themes.

Franju demonstrates you can horrify with more than shadows and gore (the film has its share of both). You can also horrify with ideas -- perhaps the most lasting horror of them all. I should know about the latter: Disturbing dreams filled my sleep after seeing the film.


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