Friday, September 28, 2007

Georges Franju's "Les Yeux sans Visage", or "Eyes without a Face"

Here's the review. I'll warn you right now that this review contains a huge amount of spoilers, as do most of my movie reviews. That said, "Eyes Without a Face" is a film that while on the surface belonging to the horror genre is actually much more complex.

The story revolves around a doctor, Dr. Génessier, who with his family got into an automobile accident sometime before the movie started. The accident left him intact but disfigured both his wife and his daughter, his daughter's face being basically wiped out, leaving just muscle (and eyes). Dr. Génessier, at the beginning of the film, starts kidnapping young girls in order to remove their faces, surgically grafting them onto his daughter.

So much for the literal beginning. The point as I see it is that Dr. Génessier is an authoritarian who wants to achieve perfection for his daughter even though his daughter protests that she doesn't like what he's doing. He's willing to abduct and murder people for his goal, all the while maintaining a cool professional façade, as witnessed by the presentation he gives on organ transplants to both his colleagues and the press.

Eventually his daughter figures out that she's more of a captive than a participant. Her death is even faked when the body of one of the girls is found, meaning that even if the operation was successful that she'd have to assume a new identity and sever the links to her old life (outside of her immediate family) that she had before the accident. Eventually she rebels, with the consequence ultimately being the death of her father by the hands of dogs that he'd experimented on, with his own face being torn apart.

And she kills her mother too, who before the story started got a successful face transplant of her own and started to operate as her husband's "Secretary", luring the girls to their home so that they could be donors for the surgery.

Why was the doctor doing this? It seems as though it's he himself who most wants his daughter to return to normal, and there's a passing reference to the accident where the daughter says that it happened because of his want for total control. He could be trying to correct his accident, to correct something that serves as evidence of his weakness, at the expense of human life and decency.

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