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Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Les yeux sans visage (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Horror | 24 October 1962 (USA)
A surgeon causes an accident which leaves his daughter disfigured, and goes to extremes to give her a new face.

Director:

Georges Franju

Writers:

Jean Redon (novel), Pierre Boileau (adaptation) (as Boileau-Narcejac) | 4 more credits »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Pierre Brasseur ... Docteur Génessier
Alida Valli ... Louise
Juliette Mayniel ... Edna Grüber
Alexandre Rignault Alexandre Rignault ... Inspector Parot
Béatrice Altariba ... Paulette (as Beatrice Altariba)
Charles Blavette ... L'homme de la fourrière (as Blavette)
Claude Brasseur ... Un inspecteur
Michel Etcheverry Michel Etcheverry ... Le docteur Lherminier - médecin légiste / Forensic surgeon
Yvette Etiévant ... La mère (as Yvette Etievent)
René Génin René Génin ... Emile Tessot
Lucien Hubert Lucien Hubert ... Un homme au cimetière
Marcel Pérès Marcel Pérès ... Un homme au cimetière (as Marcel Pères)
François Guérin François Guérin ... Jacques Vernon (as Francois Guerin)
Edith Scob ... Christiane Génessier
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Storyline

After causing an accident that left his daughter Christiane severely disfigured, the brilliant surgeon Dr. Génessier works tirelessly to give the girl a new face. He does so however by kidnapping young women and attempting face transplants. He has been woefully unsuccessful to date. The doctor's world begins to collapse around him when his daughter realizes just what he has been doing. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Beautiful women were the victims of his FIENDISH FACIALS!!! [American retitled and dubbed version poster]

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French

Release Date:

24 October 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$19,628, 2 November 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$52,709, 30 November 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

In the initial surgery scene, Doctor Génessier makes cuts around the face and eyes of the young woman (Edna). When he and Louise remove the face, there are suddenly marks and a hole cut around the mouth. See more »

Quotes

Doctor Génessier: The future, madame, is something we should have started on long ago.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The films initial 1962 release to the US was edited and the film was re-titled. The surgery scene was cut down for content, while scenes that made Dr. Genessier seem sympathetic (particularly the scene where he cares for an ailing boy) were also edited. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une vague nouvelle (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Surreal fantasy masterpiece
3 December 2004 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Georges Franju's atmospheric masterpiece is a tapestry of contradictions. Eyes Without a Face is a compelling tale of sadism that has an astute tenderness at the same time. A film that will disgust you with it's macabre imagery, yet simultaneously mesmerise you with it's beauty; a seething tale of love, fashioned by extreme guilt. Through the Gothic confines of a grandiose mansion, Franju has taken ideas from classic stories such as 'Frankenstein' and constructed a dream like surrealistic fantasy that has inspired legions of filmmakers since: from obvious inspirations like Jess Franco's The Awful Dr Orlof, all the way to the full blown Hollywood action fest, Face/Off; Eyes Without a Face stands out as one of cinema's most important, yet most overlooked films. The central story is a deliriously simple tale of vanity, guilt and redemption; yet one that is lent a great depth from it's cast of central characters. Doctor Génessier, guilt ridden over a car accident that left his beloved daughter, Christiane, with a destroyed face uses his assistant to kidnap young girls in an attempt to reconstruct her ruined features. The good doctor peels the faces from his victims and grafts them over the ruined features of his young daughter. However, the experiments are a continual failure but, motivated by a strong sense of guilt, Doctor Génessier must keep trying.

The doctor himself is a masterpiece of horror film villainy. Unlike many mad scientists since, the doctor here is firmly placed within reality which makes his motivations easy to believe and therefore the horror all the more fascinating. He is supported by his assistant, Louise; a fellow web of intrigue. Louise isn't the normal mad doctor's assistant; she isn't deformed, or demented but rather a cunning, malevolent and cerebral predator; gathering her victims to aid the doctor's latest experiment. The real masterpiece of characterisation, however, comes from the central character; the disfigured tragedy herself, Christiane. The scenes that see her float around in her mask gown are some of the most memorable ever brought to the screen. While wearing her mask, Christiane represents both life and death. The mask itself is stagnant and lifeless, but the eyes beneath the mask are full of life's beauty, giving the young girl a surrealistic look that epitomises the film in that it's hard to place; is it beautiful, or revolting; good or evil?

This film is a rare treat in that it's actually frightening. Eyes Without a Face taps into the viewer's fears by presenting us with a situation that is terrifying because it involves a central character living with horror. You can have all the maniacs with all the weapons you can think of; but it doesn't compare to having to go to bed every night with a face that is scarred beyond redemption. A fate worse than death, I'm sure you'll agree. This premise is given conviction through a stark and constantly foreboding atmosphere, which comes as a result of Eugen Shuftan's magnificent cinematography. The film has a crisp and clean look, which brilliantly offsets the macabre scenes that it is capturing. Thankfully, Georges Franju also seems keen to keep the focus on the surreal horror aspects of the story, which is shown by the way that he rushes through the police investigation that stems from the doctor's experiments. The film also features a striking and memorable musical score. The music sounds like it wouldn't be out of place in a carnival or circus, which fits the movie brilliantly as it covers the weird and wonderful imagery that we are treated to on screen.

Overall, Eyes Without a Face is a magnificent expression of the horror genre. The creativity and beauty of the film are sure to delight anyone who encounters it, and this is as important and as breathtaking as anything cinema has to offer. All I can say is that the word 'masterpiece' was added to the English language with this film in mind.


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