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Go Back   Blu-ray Forum > Movies > Blu-ray Movies - International > France

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Old 08-27-2010, 07:38 PM   #1
pro-bassoonist pro-bassoonist is offline
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France Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face)



Georges Franju's Les yeux sans visage a.k.a Eyes Without a Face (1960) has received a preliminary release date: November 2. Courtesy of Gaumont.

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Anton Bitel:
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An agitated woman (Alida Valli) drives a car through the rainy darkness, occasionally glancing nervously through the rear-view mirror at the trench-coated figure, face hidden beneath a hat, slumped in the back seat. Stopping at an isolated spot by a river, the woman drags out the body (which we can now see, from the stockinged legs trailing behind, belongs to another woman), and dumps it in the rushing waters.

If this seems like the opening to a conventional noir thriller, then the manic hurdy-gurdy three-step of Maurice Jarre's score – half menacing, half jaunty - that accompanies this sequence is suggestive of something altogether more ineffable and unhinged. Indeed, Georges Franju's Eyes Without A Face ends up occupying uncharted territories somewhere between the gothic horrors of James Whale's Frankenstein (1931), the fairytale lyricism of Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête (1946), and the charnel-house realism of Franju's own abbatoir-set documentary Le Sang Des Bêtes (1949).

The young woman's body, it turns out, was missing a face. Respected physician Dr Génessier (Pierre Brasseur) is summoned from a public lecture that he was giving on organ and tissue transplants to verify whether the corpse is that of his own daughter, who had earlier survived a car accident with horrific facial injuries, only to vanish thereafter.

Gravely, the widower Génessier identifies the body, and leaves, on his way out telling Henri Tessot (René Génin), distraught father of another missing girl, "Strange that I should have to comfort you, for whom some hope yet remains." Paternal grief, however, is not all that has been exchanged here – for even as Génessier leaves the faceless body of the dead girl behind him in the morgue, he goes home to his daughter Christiane (Edith Scob), similarly faceless but still very much alive.

With the help of his 'secretary' Louise (Valli), you see, the good doctor has been abducting girls and attempting to transplant their surgically removed faces to his own daughter – an operation that he has already performed with considerably greater success on his collection of stray dogs, as well as on his wife. If Christiane haunts the country villa like an insubstantial ghost, then her parents are more like vampires, preying upon victims in their quest for "man's greatest new hope... the recapture of physical youth". Such monstrosity must be stopped, but in the end it will not be Inspector Parot (Alexandre Rignault), nor his police colleague (Claude Brasseur), nor Christiane's one-time fiancé (François Guérin), who will bring things to a close, but rather Christiane herself, longing for release from her living tomb.

Génessier cuts something of a Promethean figure. On the one hand he is a pioneer in an area of medicine that could benefit not only his daughter, but all of humankind – but on the other, his motives have more to do with self-aggrandisement, and his dehumanising treatment of his 'donor' patients evokes those very doctors who, a mere two decades before Franju's film was made, were using living concentration camp inmates as the involuntary subjects of their horrific (if groundbreaking) experiments.

In a genre where mad scientists typically strut and cackle, Génessier's unassuming meticulousness makes him a more interesting, truly chilling sociopath, matched only by Raymond Lemorne in George Sluizer's The Vanishing (1988) – right down to the beard. Génessier's ultimate fate is hardly undeserved, and even seems to fit his crimes in a satisfying kind of symmetry – but, in all his blighted hubris, he remains tinged with tragedy to the very end.

Eyes Without A Face plays a game of peekaboo in the presentation of its more macabre ideas, tastefully holding back on revealing Christiane's absent face, but then depicting surgery itself with a detachment that proves almost as shocking as its graphic directness. Franju is carefully slicing along the line where the concrete rigours of modern science intersect with the abstractions of youth, beauty and ephemerality – and so his film, though filled with familiar elements from the thriller and horror genres, is even more haunting for its poetic imagery, lifted from the Freudian world of children's fantasy (and shot in beautiful expressionist monochrome by Eugen Schüfftan).

Génessier may be a scalpel-wielding killer, but it is his ethereal daughter, floating from room to room, with her doe eyes, long Givenchy robes and unsettling mask, who eats her way further into the mind's eye (and gives the film its evocative title).

Much as Génessier is a man ahead of his times (complaining to one woman, "As to the future, Madame, we cannot wait that long"), Franju's film too shows remarkable prescience, so that its themes easily accommodate our own contemporary obsessions with cosmetic surgery (in a new millennium that saw, as recently as 2005, the first actual face transplant successfully performed on a woman in France).

Eyes Without A Face has inspired the song of the same name by Billy Idol, and a deliriously OTT reimagining called Faceless (1988), starring Telly Savalas (still sucking on lollipops as though he never left the set of Kojak) and directed by Europe's most prolific purveyor of subversive schlock, Jess Franco. It is Franju's original, however, that will make itself at home in the darker recesses of your unconscious.
Pro-B

Last edited by pro-bassoonist; 12-26-2010 at 01:44 AM.
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Old 11-01-2010, 05:18 AM   #2
Zen_Amako Zen_Amako is offline
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I just noticed the listing for this film on amazon.fr. I'd love to own this on Blu-ray, but it looks like there are no English subtitles. I'd like to be wrong about that.
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Old 11-01-2010, 05:21 AM   #3
pro-bassoonist pro-bassoonist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen_Amako View Post
I'd like to be wrong about that.
You are not wrong.

Pro-B
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:21 PM   #4
Arkadin Arkadin is offline
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Criterion has the rights for this in the US, so that could very well be the reason there are no English subs.
Hopefully Criterion will release this in the next year now that another hd release has appeared.
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Old 12-11-2010, 12:00 AM   #5
whitesheik whitesheik is offline
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I have trepidation about Criterion UNLESS they have the rights to this new transfer from Gaumont. In a word, it is simply the best black-and-white transfer on blu-ray that I've yet to see, and having owned several prints of this film in 35mm and 16mm, it is the best it's ever looked - gorgeous. The film itself is the most haunting and poetic horror film ever made, IMO. For me, one of the top 5 blu-ray releases of the year. No, there are no subtitles, but I've seen the film enough for that not to be a problem. So, IF Criterion ends up putting this out and IF they use this transfer ONLY, then it will be cause for celebration. If they use whatever they used for their DVD, then, no, it will look nothing like this brilliant transfer. Perhaps a UK company that licenses Gaumont may have it in the works. It's just weird to put out an all-region blu-ray and NOT have it subtitled - just baffling.

But for fans of this film, this is a miracle.
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Old 12-13-2010, 02:33 PM   #6
rezpekt rezpekt is offline
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I'm also planing to get this. If I can find it for a reasonable price before there is any information about English friendly release, I'll buy it. I have a PC with BD-ROM and HDMI output so using external subtitles will not be a problem.
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Old 12-26-2010, 01:58 AM   #7
The Driver The Driver is offline
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http://www.ecranlarge.com/dvd_review-list-9812.php

Nice but no English subtitles.


Still an incredibly disturbing film.
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Old 12-26-2010, 01:30 PM   #8
househead househead is offline
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This is one of my all time favorite movies and can't believe I missed this post! Even without the English subs I still want it. Maybe I can mux the Criterion dvd subs with the French BD. Worth a shot!
So sweet, so dead.
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:26 AM   #9
Arkadin Arkadin is offline
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I would certainly consider getting it without subs just to see how incredible it looks; and use the Criterion dvd for subs.
I have another tv in the same room as my Kuro, and can play the Criterion at the same time and glance over at the subs, while playing the Blu on the Kuro.
not the most ideal way to watch a movie, but I'd give it a try just to see if it is even doable with the 24p of the blu vs. the dvd cadence.
wonder how off it would end up.
Gaumont is producing some incredible blu-rays that is for sure.
they have to be in the top 3 best distributors for blu along with Eureka and Criterion imo.
Even though they are the most English friendly studio in France, I noticed that a number of their recent older French classics don't have English subs.
it is so frustrating knowing how good those bds probably are, and knowing also that many of those films will never receive other bd releases most likely.

Last edited by Arkadin; 12-28-2010 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 12-28-2010, 03:01 PM   #10
Konrad Konrad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by househead View Post
This is one of my all time favorite movies and can't believe I missed this post! Even without the English subs I still want it. Maybe I can mux the Criterion dvd subs with the French BD. Worth a shot!
If the French BD is 1080/24p and if it is the same cut Criterion used it should be possible without problems. I did that once with a 1080/50i TV broadcast of "L'été meurtrier" replacing the German broadcast audio with French audio and added English subs, both sourced from a PAL DVD. Worked fine and without complications, but still it took quite a while till everything was fine and in sync.
My BD/DVD Collection

Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from (Jodie Foster).
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:12 PM   #11
flixyflox flixyflox is offline
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I think you can safely hazard the guess that Gaumont released Les Yeux without subs based on the likelihood of an English language friendly release by either/or MoC and/or Criterion. MoC in particular has a substantial relationship with Gaumont and has released a lot of its product.

Given that, I would also suspect both a Crit and MoC would be region locked to A and B respectively.

Of course some enterprising people already have the software capability to demux BD files and remux with "borrowed" srt files, but it's not exactly a straightforward job. All the more reason I find the omission of subs from the Gaumont perplexing (ditto the Bresson which I suspect has a less likely English friendly release outside France.)
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:01 PM   #12
rezpekt rezpekt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flixyflox View Post
Of course some enterprising people already have the software capability to demux BD files and remux with "borrowed" srt files, but it's not exactly a straightforward job. All the more reason I find the omission of subs from the Gaumont perplexing (ditto the Bresson which I suspect has a less likely English friendly release outside France.)
Unless the film has been split into multiple files there is no reason for remuxing. Just open the main .m2ts file with video player and load subtitles. AnyDVD HD and MPC-HC will do the job.
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