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Eyes Without a Face - Criterion Collection
Eyes Without a Face - Criterion Collection
Actors: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel, Edith Scob, François Guérin
Director: Georges Franju
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Cult Movies
UR     2004     1hr 30min

Secluded in the French countryside, a brilliant, obsessive doctor attempts a radical plastic surgery to restore his beloved daughter?s once-beautiful face, but at a horrifying price. Lauded as a true rarity of horror cinem...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel, Edith Scob, François Guérin
Director: Georges Franju
Creators: Georges Franju, Jules Borkon, Claude Sautet, Jean Redon, Pierre Boileau, Pierre Gascar, Thomas Narcejac
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Cult Movies
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Horror
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/19/2004
Original Release Date: 10/24/1962
Theatrical Release Date: 10/24/1962
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 32
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

An artistic mad doctor splatter flick from France
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 11/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Eyes Without a Face" ("Les Yeux sans visage") is a horror film in which there is certain sympathy with the mad doctor, in this case Doctor Genessier (Pierre Brasseur) who is trying to repair the horrible damage to his daughter Christiane (Edith Scob) in a car accident that was his fault. The doctor, helped by his assistant Louise (Alida Valli), has been kidnapping young girls so that he can remove their skin and graft it onto Christiane's ruined face. Not only do the victims die, but the grafts fail, forcing Genessier to try again and again and again. What makes Georges Franju's film work is the inherent sympathy we feel towards the father trying to make his daughter beautiful again, just as we are repulsed by the surgical procedures he uses. Meanwhile, Genessier remains oblivious to what his efforts are doing to Christiane's own tenuous hold on reality. "Eyes Without a Face" moves back and forth from the sacred and the profane, between the love of a parent for a child and meaningless destruction of human life. Franju conveys this contrast visually through the use of poetic images and realistic scenes. I have read arguments that "Eyes Without a Face" should be considered with "Psycho" as creating the splatter flick, and while it is hard to imagine anything having the impact of Hitchcock's film, Franju's movie is more artistic overall (of course, the shower scene is the master trump when we talk about horror films as "art"). This black & white French film with English subtitles is well worth seeing and could end up on your personal top 10 horror film list.The "Eyes Without a Face" translation is actually the British title for this 1959 release, which was called "The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus" when released in the United States in 1962, in what must be one of the stupidest titles grafted onto a foreign film in cinema history. Here you have a film that walks a fine line between beautiful visual images, such as when Christiane walks through the house in her mask, and viseral horror, represented by not just the operation scenes but the film's climax. The title is simple and elegant, not to mention appropriate to the story being told, and some suit who heard about Christopher Marlowe while reading an E.C. comic comes up with "The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus." Mon dieu, mon ami!"
Something dark for Halloween.
I. Sondel | Tallahassee, FL United States | 06/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I guess I'm a horror film snob, but I like my "creature features" and ghost stories with a little class. Give me Julie Harris in "The Haunting," or Deborah Kerr "The Innocents," or Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast," or Mia Farrow in "Rosemary's Baby." One of my all-time favorite horror films is this macabre tale of a girl with a tragically disfigured face and her mad-surgeon of a father, obsessed with restoring her beauty - no matter the cost.

Directed by Georges Franju and scripted by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (who wrote "Diabolique" and "Vertigo"), "Eyes Without a Face" is one of the most stylish, suspensful and gruesome films I've ever seen. My sister leaves the room during the surgical sequences - really, truly horrific. The performances are excellent throughout. The physician's assistant is played by the wonderful Alida Valli (of "The Third Man" fame). Pierre Brasseur plays the surgeon and Edith Scob is simply haunting in the titular role. The great Maurice Jarre composed the score. Don't miss this one. Play this on Halloween for all your friends who've never heard of it - and then sit back and watch them squirm. Great movie."
Dissection of a masterpiece. Dvd features below
Mike Liddell | Massachusetts | 04/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In the book jacket of the criterion dvd producer Jules Borkon told director Georges Franju that in the film there would need to be blood. But not too much blood because of French censors, also no animal torture because it upsets the British, and no mad scientists, since the Germans are touchy about the whole Nazi doctor thing.
As Borkon handed Franju a script about a mad doctor that tortures animals while cutting off women's faces. Sound like a challenge?

Luckily this inspired Franju to step his game up to transcend what might have been a B horror movie into a masterpiece. Franju was also in good company on the film with the writing team of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac who were also the writing team that assisted Hitchcock on Vertigo and Clouzot on Diabolique. Cinematographer Eugen Schufftan to make Franjus vision of realism come to life, Schufftan who had also worked with Fritz Lang and Edgar Ulmer.

Eyes without a face is the story of a Dr. Génessier who is indeed a mad doctor but is not screaming It's Alive, It's Alive like Dr. Frankenstein. On the contrary unlike Dr. Frankenstein he isn't giving life but unknowingly taking his patient's life away. That patient is Christiane Génessie his own daughter whose face was left mangled after a car accident in which her father, as she states was driving insane as he always did.

Dr. Genessie now removes women's faces to transplant to his daughters so she can come from behind a eerie mask she is encouraged to wear. He does this with the help of Louise his assistant who is loyal to the Dr. for giving back her own face through surgery.

Patrick McGrath an author who did a write up on the Criterion case jacket states that the Dr. is not motivated by love but by guilt in creating these horrible acts. I personally did not see that, but a man who had lost his sole and was obsessed with the work itself, after thinking he finally made his daughters face perfect again he stated you can't put a price on that. Christiane herself told Louise that she is a godsend to him to have as a guinea pig as she pleaded for her to kill her. However the Dr. does show moments of being human when he helps a boy, this apparently is what angered our American censors who didn't mind the blood and carnage but giving the Dr. compassion was inexcusable and was one of the cuts made to the film originally.

The film as a horror movie is filed with dread, when a girl is lured back to the house of the Dr. and realizes she made a mistake I could see a lot of our torture films being influenced here like Hostel II for example. However Eyes without a face has motive and plot. And even for 1959 there are moments that make you squirm as the first realistic documentary style face removal, and after his daughter's successful face transplant goes wrong showing photos of her face's deterioration after different amounts of time elapse.

The film is also filled with metaphors and makes you think. For example if this surgery were for the good but horrible acts to a few had to happen in order to benefit many is that alright? Sounds a bit familiar.

Is Christiane's plastic mask symbolic for the masks people are encouraged to put on each day?

Perhaps it symbolizes the mask the director Franju was encouraged to put on this film and the struggle it must have been to rise above it as Christiane must rise up against the evil in her father.

Are parents that try to sculpt and mold their children into what they want because they think it's best are they stopping that child from really living?

I could go on and on, this is a great horror film and great film for any genre. As his film suggests beauty is only skin deep but directors like Franju show how deep a genre hated by many critics such as horror can go.

- New Restored HD transfer (looked pristine
-Blood of the Beasts, Franju's 1949 short doc about the slaughterhouses of Paris
-Archival interviews w/ Franjo on horror, cinema, and the making of blood of the beasts
-Excert from les grands peres du crime, a doc features eyes without a faces writers Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (Diabolique, Vertigo)
-Theatrical Trailers
-Stills gallery of rare production photos and promo material
-New essays by novelist Patrick McGrath and writer and film historian David Kalat (which i refer to throughout the review)