Eyes Without a Face shows the gruesome extent a father would go to to repent an act he unintentionally committed on his daughter. Although, in this case his act of love turns him into a villain, which leads him to his own karmic death.
Franju’s surreal horror film follows a mad doctor, Génessier (Pierre Brasseur), and his committed nurse, Louise (Alida Valli), and their conquest to find a new face for his daughter, Christiane (Edith Scob), who has remained faceless since the accident caused by her father. Louise finds new faces by luring women into her car, and then to the doctor's private practice, where they are induced into an unconscious state. Although the doctor performs skin grafts out of love for his daughter, his personal line of work concentrates on the experimentation of such surgeries, therefore it’s questionable whether the transplants are entirely unconditional.
The storyline is similar to many of the plays shown at La Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, an institution in the Pigalle area of Paris, which was infamous for its erotic-horror plays during most of the 20th century. Playwrights often expressed great interest in the guillotine, specifically in exploring whether the head could continue to live after it had been detached from the body, which is similar to the doctor’s personal study.
The film stands as a classic horror that inspires many creatives in different fields. Pedro Almodóvar has stated that The Skin I Live In (2011) is directly influenced by Franju’s film, where the opening of both films are strikingly similar and both women run away from the male gaze forced upon them. Its legacy also lives on in John Woo’s graphic scene of the same nature in Face/Off (1997) and Billy Idol’s song of the same name in 2001.
Eyes Without a Face
director GEORGES FRANJU
director of photography EUGEN SCHÜFFTAN
cast PIERRE BRASSEUR, EDITH SCOB, ALIDA VALLI and JULIETTE MAYNIEL
words PRIYESH PATEL
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