Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Under the Skin

Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face explores a beauty myth under surrealism, about a film the director designed to break through the potential of symbolism. With its austere aesthetics and mysterious poetry, the film, in full imagery, does not appeal to a renunciation of simplicity. The French director, in general, makes the most of its scenario roughly. It creates vivid scenes, seeking to burn the audience themselves into the subconscious. The film’s narrative and thematic design reach deep into the audience’s hearts with all its unromantic violence. It tries to form a character that demands an affection for the polite cinematic sensitivity of Franju.

In the 1960s, the film caused a stir and brought the film under censorship for decades to come. In the modern era, critics and even film and literary scholars reassess the film as the arthouse of the horror genre. The film embodies those troubling digressions, aligning with Franju’s worldview uniquely. The film elevates a genre that people underestimate to the status of art, instilling suspicion about established institutions. It considers the myth of beauty and nature’s ravages of progress, depicting an innate fear of losing identity. Such loss of identity can be seen by people from a psychological and physical perspective. Personally, Franju shows an expression of people’s ancient preoccupation with identity.

French Fantasy Tradition

The core motif of Eyes Without a Face is the mask, a simple object made of rugged plastic but surrealism. A young woman wears a mask to hide a face crushed in a car accident. Christiane is the victim behind Dr. Génessier. He is the father of Christiane and a leading French surgeon. Obsessively, attempts to reconstruct his daughter involve his passion. On the other hand, she still has what her father had lost. If only her father still had spiritual and mental abilities, Christiane would always act as an ethical-moral antagonist towards her father.

Her father pits an evil man to be able to fix his daughter and improve her identity physically and psychologically. Within the concept of the rich French fantasy tradition, film critics argued that the horror genre was fundamentally at odds with the intrinsic artistic nature of French cinema. In desperation, the genre binds the director and the film into knots to reconcile the film with the critics’ preconceptions. Such presumption explores what good French cinema should be. In addition, the dilemma will disappear if the audience agrees that making horror films is a good practice. It involves the audience’s fear as legitimately as manipulating any other emotion. However, only a few film critics can recognize the genre.

The Noir-horror Genre

Eyes Without a Face hides in the noir genre with horror surrealism; it is no doubt that no serious artist would devolve Franju into making horror pictures. However, Franju corrected many critics regarding the film. The film is not a horror, but worse is a terror film. The statement speaks of the status of horror that stigmatized directors in France in the 1950s and 1960s. Among critics, the director placed horror under the fantasy umbrella category. It is a broad genre that French directors use mainly.

Other European literary scholars also relied on descriptors that the continental European literary tradition developed by taking things from mythology, especially in the Middle Ages. It often defines, develops, and creates a genre according to what the box office sells. In conclusion, non-French critics distinguish horror and science fiction as separate genres. The French consider cinema fantasy as a minor genre. It plays an insignificant role in the film and ignores the entire as a rule in favor of good taste standards. The tradition of quality for which the French mainstream film industry seeks such a standard. Essentially, Franju is a serious artist and is already famous for Blood of the Beasts. At the same time, he is working on his first feature titled Head Against the Wall.

Cinémathèque Française

As Eyes Without a Face surrealism permeated, Franju’s status depended on more than just his filmmaking experience. He also founded the Cinémathèque Française in 1937 with Henri Langlois, an influential institution in French film culture. In addition to being the most enduring institution, it operates as a film club that young people glorify. Franju is a fan of the new wave of youths. Initially, he was a film critic who took the camera to practice the discourse of Godard and his friends. After all, he has always been separated from the new wave, just being a movie buff immersed in a passion for the film’s authenticity. The film does not just talk about thematic originality.

Instead, the film talks about the accuracy, atmosphere, and perfect image of the narrative elements of the story. The audience saw a beautiful woman with a face as pale as wax driving a car through the darkest night. It will be a feature of the setting. All implicitly negates what is obvious and what the director is properly narrating. In essence, there is almost no light except the sheen on the skin of a woman’s face. She touched the rearview mirror and saw that a figure in an oversized coat was slumped in the back of the car. Like any other doll, the topic was as low as a corpse. It causes wax-faced woman anxiety as she drives. She engaged in a clandestine act of disposing of a body.

The Sin

When she finally stopped the car, she stepped out, and her coat gleamed against the darkness of the night. It is because the thing is made of shiny and rigid material. By reflecting light, it has a complicated feeling. Apart from being impenetrable, sinfulness characterizes everything Dr. Génessier. It is revealed that the woman is his assistant, Louise, who represents his success. However, he is soulless, luring young women to a clinic outside Paris where he performs gruesome surgical experiments. The clinical picture is at the heart of the mad doctor’s story. Franju blackmails his character for all of the protagonist’s evil potential.

For example, it masks a dire reality, which translates as sticking a patient on someone else’s skin. By the meaning of symbolism, it becomes death, of course. What is even scarier as far as the film is, is a real example when the audience sees the protagonist at work. Surgical clamps thrive on one gruesome scene. The doctor first marks the outline of the face to make the wound bleed. In the next scene, he secures the incision with forest clamps, in such a point literally, comes. In developing the project, Franju walked the narrow path between bad and good taste. It is between the fantastic and reality, between the producer’s requirements and his artistic drive. The director gives the picture according to the selling power.

A Glimpse of Darkness

Eyes Without a Face is at the heart of Franju’s surrealism, built on a glimpse of such horror. Deviation of science, or the logical result of medical science, intervenes in the mysteries which should only belong to God and must be God’s law or himself. People cruelly inspire Franju’s story that he must put a family at the center of the horror. The dining table view is a perfect example, where the doctor is sitting with two women. The doctor, doctor’s assistant, and his daughter dined together as a family. Everything is love and harmony, but one of the strangest foods in the history of cinema because the doctor dramatically changes the face of every beautiful woman.

Altered entirely, outside the house and out of Christiane’s earshot, things again went dark. At a specific moment, the doctor informed Louise that, on the contrary, he had failed another time. Not long after the scene, the audience sees a horrific montage of decay. The director also brushes up on medical terminology that can barely do justice to the organically disintegrating image of a beautiful girl’s face. Pigmentation patches and small subcutaneous nodules turn into necrosis of the graft tissue. Finally, removing dead tissue re-opens the mask that the woman hates. The moment became a setback that Christiane could not bear. Her new face mischief, the final struggle of the good daughter, and her bad father start the final game.

The Director’s Psychology

Eyes Without a Face psychologically unites the audience’s mind in the director’s surrealism. People often refer to it as inconceivable. While at odds with neither sensation nor suspense, his poetic approach creates a sense of mystery. It instills horror in an ordinary place through a carefully haunted aesthetic. The cinematography has its roots in German experimentalism, inspired by most of Fritz Lang’s films. The relaxing process lasted more than 90 minutes, offering a respite from such a straightforward presentation. The film introduces a whimsical but winding theme, emphasizing Christiane’s departure from everyday life. In addition, it highlights the film’s eerie differences.

The imagery’s strong idiosyncrasies lend material to broad interpretation. Scientific critical judgment has developed various interpretations by reading the film as a portrait of Nazi scientists. Feminist account of subjugating women in patriarchal systems comments on the decline of natural beauty during post-WWII reconstruction. Such a metaphor for colonial power in the reflection of the Algerian War, people can call heretical. However, it contains more evidence in the film than in any other film. Franju’s films often revolve around violent ideas born from a slice of life institutions. Before the film, he makes a film that uncovers the grim truth behind the mask that hides a terrible secret. Indeed, his films often involve a process of masking for the sake of truth. Therefore, the visual symbolism of the mask represents an expressionless prison for Christiane and a denial of truth.

Behind Blue Eyes

Eyes Without a Face is a story about the potential evils of science. In general, the film tells about medicine and beauty myths in particular. It is not a coincidence either about patriarchy. Apart from telling stories about the father’s tyranny over his women, it is hard not to speculate that the doctor’s attempts to panic the audience were read as a response from abusive parents. He was trying to hold his daughter responsible while driving the car when the accident that left Christiane disabled occurred. So, these guys have a crazy father whose more desperate acts of violence drive him. The absolute horror in the film is that love does not motivate the doctor at all.

However, the guilt he does not maintain for destroying his daughter’s face pushes him. The film remains an enduring classic because of its rich meaning. The horror uses evocative and thematic symbols of masks, faces, and eyes. Such cultivation of Franju’s image stems from his interest in fantasy cinema, turning ordinary objects into manifestations of terror. The film rests on the idea of losing an individual’s identity. However, Franju’s distrust of institutions reminds the audience that there is a hidden, unfocused, or terrible potential behind every layer. Throughout the film, the director’s image of his distinctive tone reinforces his focus on the face as a site of exposed truth. By abandoning any attempt to desecrate or discredit the face or mask as a crime of myth or nature, such basic ideas are at the center of the film’s corruption of ghosts.

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