Romancing on the lane of cinema history, I tumbled upon a unique gem, a thriller from the scientific folklore, Eyes Without a Face. A French movie directed by Georges Franju (Le Sang Des Betes, Judex), Les Yeux Sans Visage is a story about medical innovations from that time frame (the late 50s), and the recapitulated desire of a genius, Dr. Genessier (Pierre Brasseur), to restore his daughter’s visage—yielding her with a promising and new, almost like, second life. The movie, tackles the cagey topic of face implant—a subject far ahead of its generation. Sheer coincidence or fate, the first ever face implant did come from France forty-five years later in the year 2005. Adapted from a novel of the same name by Jean Redon, Eyes Without a Face sums up the perspective of a young and beautiful girl, without a face, swinging in the swings of nostalgia, love, and disappointment.
Edith Scob plays the role of the ill-fated daughter, Christiane whose only visible features on her face are the two beautiful luminaries of vision. Decorating these artistic eyes, a mask becomes her new face, a new feature for the lovely Christiane. Living in isolation away from the world, Les Yeux Sans Visage pictures an allegory of agony, gloominess, despair, and eventually, emancipation for the tortured soul. Alida Valli takes up the role of the loyal and unflinching secretary, Louise, to Dr. Genessier. The character of Louise stands as a firm minion to this genius of a Doctor—determined in punctuating the grammar of life and enhancing the story of two contrasting personalities—both suffering but for reasons apart and diverse.
As a movie, Eyes Without a Face is an ideal journey into the golden cinema; more so into French Cinema. It brings a unique perspective to the evolution of European Cinema, and presents a subdued plot—all within realism—featuring a dark theme, some desolate truths, and a chilling climax to this shadowy drama. The portrayal of the primary characters is educative for a student of cinema and surreal to enthusiasts of movies, especially to those who prefer a trip down the lane of classic movies. One of the best features of the movie is the simplistic camerawork that is great for the era, and effectively visualizes a silent story collaborating finely in setting up the plot, raising the stakes, and printing this unreal movie into the big picture. Looking back, Les Yeux Sans Visage is a perennial minimalist cinema, with a touch of French romanticism, a hint of vivre…
A benchmark in the genre of French-Italian horrors, the rich plot of the movie is complimented by a gravitating performance by Brasseur; the serenity of two beautiful eyes, which expresses the unspoken better than words, the staunchness of a loyalist, and the twisted story of merger. Eyes Without a Face is a movie of time and custom. Excellently directed and presented by Georges Franju, it remains a movie worthy of appreciation and embodiment—a timeless, forgotten classic from the tapes of French Cinema.