Eyes Without a Face

Eyes Without a Face

Infobox Film
name = Eyes Without a Face

image_size =
caption =
director = Georges Franju
producer = Jules Borkon
writer = Pierre Boileau Thomas Narcejac Jean Redon Claude Sautet Georges Franju
narrator =
starring = Pierre Brasseur Alida Valli Edith Scob François Guérin Juliette Mayniel
music = Maurice Jarre
cinematography = Eugen Schüfftan
editing = Gilbert Natot
distributor = Lopert Pictures
released = France 1959TCM Staff. [http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=443077&category=Misc%20Notes "Misc Notes for Eyes Without a Face (1959)."] tcm.com. Retrieved: February 1 2008.] cite DVD-notes
title = Eyes Without a Face
titlelink= Eyes Without a Face
titleyear = 1959
director = Georges Franju
format = Booklet
publisher = The Criterion Collection
location = New York, New York
publisherid = 260
year = 2004
] Italy May 3, 1960 United Kingdom 1960 United States October 24, 1962
runtime = 84 min.
country = France Italy
language = French
budget =
gross =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:23145
imdb_id = 0053459

"Eyes Without a Face" ( _fr. Les Yeux sans visage) is a 1959 French-language horror film adaptation of Jean Redon's novel of the same name. Schneider 2005, p. 365.] Directed by French filmmaker Georges Franju, the film stars Pierre Brasseur as Doctor Génessier, Alida Valli as Louise and Edith Scob as Christiane Génessier. The plot revolves around the obsessive Doctor Génessier attempting experimental heterografting surgery to restore his daughter Christiane's face which has been horribly disfigured in a car accident. With the help of Louise, Doctor Génessier lures young women into his home laboratory to perform experiments on them that will restore Christiane's beauty.

"Eyes Without a Face" received an American debut in an edited form in 1962 under the title of "The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus" as a double feature to accompany the film "The Manster". In 2003, "Eyes Without a Face" was re-released in its original uncut form to American theatres to positive critical acclaim.


At night just outside Paris, a woman named Louise (Alida Valli) drives along a riverbank, disposing of a corpse in her backseat in the river. After the body is recovered, Dr. Génessier (Pierre Brasseur) identifies the remains as those of his missing daughter, Christiane Génessier (Edith Scob), whose face was horribly disfigured in an automobile accident that occurred before her disappearance. Following Christiane's funeral, Génessier and his assistant Louise, the woman who had disposed of the dead body earlier, return home where the doctor has hidden Christiane. The body belonged to a young woman that died following Dr. Génessier's unsuccessful attempt to graft her face onto his daughter's. Génessier promises to restore Christiane's face and insists that she wear a mask to cover her disfigurement. After her father leaves the room, Christiane calls her fiance Jacques Vernon (François Guérin), who works at Dr. Génessier's hospital, but hangs up without saying a word.

Louise lures a young woman named Edna Gruber (Juliette Mayniel) to Génessier's home. Génessier chloroforms Edna and takes her to his secret laboratory, where he performs heterograft surgery, removing her face. The doctor successfully grafts the skin on his daughter's face and holds the heavily bandaged and faceless Edna against her will. Edna escapes but falls to her death from an upstairs window. After disposing of Edna's corpse, Génessier notices flaws on Christiane's face. Her face grows worse within days; the new tissue is being rejected and she must resort to wearing her mask again. Christiane again phones Jacques and this time says his name, but the phone call is interrupted by Louise.

Jacques reports the call to the police, who have been investigating the disappearance of several young women with similar facial characteristics. The police have gotten a lead concerning a woman who wears a pearl choker, whom Jacques recognizes as Louise. Inspector Parot asks a young woman named Paulette Mérodon (Beatrice Altariba) to help investigate by checking herself into Génessier's hospital. After being declared healthy, Paulette leaves for Paris and is promptly picked up by Louise, who delivers her to Dr. Génessier's secret lab. Génessier is about to begin surgery on Paulette, when Louise informs him that the police want to see him. While the doctor talks with the police, Christiane, who has become disenchanted with her father's experiments, frees Paulette and stabs Louise in the neck. She also frees the dogs and doves that her father uses for experiments. Dr. Génessier dismisses the police and returns to his lab, where the dogs attack him, brutally disfiguring his face. Christiane walks slowly into the woods outside Génessier's house with one of the freed doves on her hand.


In the late 1950s British horror films such as "The Curse of Frankenstein" (1957) and "Horror of Dracula" (1958) were popular with the French filmgoers. Similar modern horror films had not been attempted by French film makers at the time until producer Jules Borkon attempted to tap into the horror market. Borkon bought the rights to the Jean Redon novel and offered the directorial job to one of the founders of Cinémathèque Française, Georges Franju while he was directing his first non-documentary feature "La Tête contre les murs" (1958). Franju had grown up on French silent era filmakers such as Georges Méliès and Louis Feuillade who made more fantastique-themed films and relished the idea to contribute to the genre. Franju felt the story wasn't a horror film, he described his vision was of "anguish... it's a quieter mood than horror... more internal, more penetrating. It's horror in homeopathic doses."

To avoid problems with European censors, Borkon cautioned Franju not to include too much blood which would upset the French censors, refrain from showing animals getting tortured which would upset English censors and leave out mad scientist characters which would cause problems with German censors. All three of these were part of the film making the solution to find the right tone in which to present them. First working with Claude Sautet, also serving as first assistant director who laid out the preliminary screenplay, Franju hired the writing team of Boileau-Narcejac (Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac) who were fresh from screenplays for Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (1958) and Henri-Georges Clouzot's "Les Diaboliques" (1954).Turan 2005, p. 92.] The writers shifted the novel's focus on Doctor Génessier's character to his daughter Christiane's. This also revealed the doctor's character in a more positive and understandable view helping avoid the censorship restrictions Borkon proposed.

For his production staff, Franju enlisted people who he had previously worked with on earlier projects. Cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan was chosen to render the visuals of the film. Schüfftan had previously worked with Franju previously on "La Tête Contre les Murs" (1958).Allmovie. [http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:150916~T3 "allmovie ((( La Tête Contre les Murs > Production Credits )))"] allmovie.com. Retrieved: May 20, 2008.] Film historian David Kalat called Shüfftan "the ideal choice to illustrate Franju's nightmares." Only two years later, Shüfftan would win an Academy award for his work on "The Hustler" (1961).Allmovie. [http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:23961~T4 "allmovie ((( The Hustler > Awards )))"] allmovie.com. Retrieved: April 22, 2008.] French composer Maurice Jarre created the haunting score for the film. Jarre had previously worked with Franju on his film "La Tête Contre les Murs" (1958). Modern critics make note of the films two imposing musical themes of the jaunty carnival-esque waltz performed while Louise does her duties for Doctor Génessier and a lighter sadder piece for Christiane.Edelstein, David. [http://slate.msn.com/id/2108869/ "Ick Flicks."] | slate.msn.com, October 29, 2004. Retrieved: March 28, 2008.] Mairs, Gary. [http://slate.msn.com/id/2108869/ "Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage)."] culturevulture.net. Retrieved: March 28, 2008.] Jarre would go on to make award winning scores for films including "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) and "Doctor Zhivago" (1965).Allmovie. [http://allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=2:95896~T3 "Maurice Jarre Awards."] allmovie.com. Retrieved: March 28, 2008.]


* Pierre Brasseur as Doctor Génessier: a University professor, physician and father of Christiane. Génessier experiments on his pet dogs and performs heterograft surgeries on women to try and restore the face of his daughter Christiane. Brasseur previously worked with director Georges Franju in the drama "La Tête contre les murs" (1958), again in a leading role playing a doctor.Erickson, Hal. [http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:150916 "La Tête Contre les Murs: Overview."] allmovie.com. Retrieved: February 7, 2008.]
* Alida Valli as Louise: a woman who acts as an assistant to Génessier, kidnapping young women, assisting him in the lab and acting as a surrogate mother to Christiane. Louise aids Génessier in part due to his help restoring her damaged face in events that happened before the film begins.
* Edith Scob as Christiane Genessier: the daughter of Doctor Génessier. Christiane's face was damaged in a car accident caused by her father. For most of the film, her face is covered by a stiff mask that resembles her face before the accident. Like Brasseur, Scob was also cast by Franju in "La Tête Contre les Murs", but in a more minor role. Scob went on to work with Franju on four more of his films. [http://imdb.com/WorkedWith?name=Scob%2C+Edith&as=b&with=e "Edith Scob (Actress)."] imdb.com. Retrieved: February 7, 2008.]
* François Guérin as Jacques Vernon: a student of Génessier and Christiane's fiancé. Jacques is unaware of Doctor Génessier's criminal acts and believes Christiane is dead. After receiving a phone call from Christiane, he helps aid the police force in investigating the crime.
* Juliette Mayniel as Edna Gruber: a young woman who becomes victim to Doctor Génessier experiments after being befriended by Louise in Paris. Edna is the first woman to give Christiane a successful face transplant. While recovering from surgery, she attacks Louise then leaps from a window at Génessier's home and dies.

Release and reception

"Eyes without a Face" was first shown in France on August 18, 1959 and received a theatrical release on March 2, 1960.Ince 2005, p. 162.] Although it passed through the European censors, the film caused controversy on its release in Europe. The French news magazine "L'Express" noted the audience "dropped like flies" during the heterografting scene. The French critics' general response was moderate, ranging from mild enthusiasm to general disdain or disappointment, claiming it to be either a tired repetition of German expressionism or simply too much like Grand Guignol theatre.cite web
url= http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/07/42/yeux-sans-visage.html
title= Les Yeux sans visage
accessdate= 2008-08-08
author= Wheatley, Catherine
publisher= Senses of Cinema
] In England, Isabel Quigly, film critic for "The Spectator" called it "the sickest film since I started film criticism." while a reviewer who admitted that she liked the film was nearly fired.Ashby and Higson 2000, p. 222.] During a showing of the film at the Edinburgh Film Festival, seven audience members fainted to which director Franju responded, "Now I know why Scotsmen wear skirts."

For the American debut release in 1962, the film was released in an edited form. It was given an English-language dub, and re-titled "The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus". [Turan 2005, p. 91.] Edits in the Dr. Faustus version removed parts of the heterografting scene as well as scenes showing Doctor Génessier's more human side such as him lovingly caring for a small child at his clinic. The distributors recognized the artistic intent of the film and played up that element in promotion with an advertisement quoting The London Observer's boasts of the film having "A ghastly elegance that suggests Tennessee Williams..." and its showing at the Edinburgh Film Festival. This quote is used again in the American film trailer as well as the narrator comparing the film to the acclaimed German expressionism film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920). This is in contrast to the secondary feature "The Manster" (1962) which mainly focused on the carnie-show aspect with its "two-headed monster" and "Invasion from outer space by two-headed creature killer".Hawkins 2000, p. 75.]

It was not until the 1986 re-release of the film, in conjunction with retrospectives at the National Film Theatre in England and at Cinémathèque Française in France of the director's back catalogue, that its critical status began to be re-evaluated.The film was re-released in its original form to American theatres on October 31, 2003 to great critical acclaim. Modern critics noted its poetic nature and fairy tale-like qualities. Comparisons to the style of French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau and early silent cinema were also made. A negative review of the film came from "Variety", which including "stilted acting, asides to explain characters and motivations, and a repetition of effects lose the initial impact" and "unclear progression and plodding direction give this an old-fashioned air". Based on 35 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, "Eyes Without a Face" received an average 97% overall approval rating with an average rating of 8.1/10. [http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/eyeswithoutaface "Eyes Without a Face (re-release) (2003): Reviews."] metacritic.com. Retrieved: February 7, 2008.] [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/eyes_without_a_face/ "Eyes Without a Face Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes."] rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved: February 7, 2008.]

"Eyes Without a Face" was released on VHS on January 9, 2001 by Kino Video and on DVD on October 19, 2004 by The Criterion Collection. The DVD also contains Georges Franju's first documentary "Blood of the Beasts" (1949), a depiction of a French slaughterhouse. A Region 2 release of "Eyes Without a Face" was released May 12, 2008 by Second Sight Films. [http://www.secondsightfilms.co.uk/eyeswithoutaface_cs.htm" Second Sight - Classic Film and TV on DVD."] secondsightfilms.co.uk. Retrieved: April 23, 2008.]


"Eyes Without a Face" has influenced a handful of European films since its release. Spanish director Jesús Franco created films through his career that were influenced by "Eyes Without a Face". Franco's first was the Spanish/French co-production of "Gritos en la noche" (1962). Franco's variation of "Eyes Without a Face" concerns the efforts of a mad surgeon named Dr. Orloff that reconstructs the face of his disfigured daughter Melissa. Inspector Edgar Tanner investigates Orlof using his girlfriend Wanda Bronsky as an undercover spy. Several sequels to "Gritos en la noche" followed.Firsching, Robert. [http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:88121 "The Awful Dr. Orlof."] allmovie.com. Retrieved: February 2, 2008.] Franco made one more film with a strong influence from "Eyes Without a Face" titled "Faceless" (1988). "Faceless"'s similar plot involves beautiful women who are abducted by Dr. Flamand's (Helmut Berger) female assistant and kept hostage. The doctor uses the skin of the women to perform plastic surgery on his disfigured sister, but the experiments leave the victims mutilated and dead.Pavlides, Dan. [http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:119726 "Faceless."] allmovie.com. Retrieved: February 2, 2008.] At the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, a French science fiction film "Chrysalis" (2007) was presented that contained homages to "Eyes Without a Face".Toronto International Film Festival. [http://www.tiff07.ca/filmsandschedules/filmdetails.aspx?ID=705291509481386 "TIFF '07 - Chrysalis."] Retrieved: October 5, 2007.] These homages relate to the plotline of a police lieutenant investigating the circumstances behind the body of a young girl who has scars around her eyes. The lieutenant's investigation eventually leads him to a plastic surgery clinic, which is a similar plot motivation to "Eyes Without a Face".Buchanan, Jason. [http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:88121 "Chrysalis."] allmovie.com. Retrieved: February 2, 2007.]

The film also influenced American film productions. John Carpenter has suggested that "Eyes Without a Face" inspired the idea for a featureless mask for the Michael Myers character in the popular slasher film series "Halloween". Carpenter recalls that the film crew "didn't have any money to make a mask. It was originally written the way you see it, in other words, it's a pale mask with human features, almost featureless. I don't know why I wrote that down, why Debra and I decided on that, maybe it was because of an old movie called "Eyes Without a Face"."Carpenter, John. "A Cut Above the Rest (Halloween: 25th Anniversary Edition DVD Special Features)" (DVD Region 2). Anchor Bay, 2003.]

DVD film reviews have suggested the film's influence on director John Woo. The critics have compared the face transplant scene that has similar graphic detail of the face transplant scene in Woo's action film "Face/Off" (1997).Bourne, Mark. [http://www.dvdjournal.com/quickreviews/e/eyeswithoutaface_cc.q.shtml "DVD Journal: Quick Reviews: Eyes Without a Face."] dvdjournal.com. Retrieved: 1 February, 2008.] Jacobson, Michael. [http://www.dvdmoviecentral.com/ReviewsText/eyes_without_a_face.htm "Eyes Without a Face - DVD Movie Central."] dvdmoviecentral.com. Retrieved: January 1, 2007.] Gilvear, Kevin. [http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=56549 "DVD Times - Eyes without a Face."] dvdtimes.co.uk. Retrieved: January 1, 2007.] Another comparison is with Woo's trademark use of white doves in his films that is similar to the character Christiane's dove-laden escape in the film's finale.


Infobox Album
Name = Ma Periode Française
Type = Soundtrack
Longtype =
Artist = Maurice Jarre

Released = February, 2005
Recorded =
Genre = Film music
Length = 71:11
Label = Play Time
Producer =
Reviews =
Last album =
This album =
Next album =
Long after the film's original release, in February of 2005, the French soundtrack record label Play Time released the soundtrack on Compact Disc along with other soundtracks preformed by Jarre. This also includes soundtracks from other Franju films including "La Tête contre les Murs" and "Thérèse Desqueyroux".cite web
title = Anthologie 80ème Anniversaire
publisher = FGL Productions
year =
month =
url = http://www.fglmusic.com/produit?id=467
language = French
accessdate = 2008-08-26


collapsed = yes
headline =
extra_column = Film
total_length =

all_writing =
all_lyrics =
all_music = Maurice Jarre

writing_credits =
lyrics_credits =
music_credits =

title1 = Générique / Surprise-partie
extra1 = "La Tête contre les Murs"
length1 = 4:30

title2 = Thème de Stéphanie
extra2 = "La Tête contre les Murs"
length2 = 4:30

title3 = Enterrement à l’asile
extra3 = "La Tête contre les Murs"
length3 = 2:44

title4 = Générique
extra4 = "Eyes Without a Face"
length4 = 2:05

title5 = Thème romantique
extra5 = "Eyes Without a Face"
length5 = 2:50

title6 = Filature
extra6 = "Eyes Without a Face"
length6 = 1:23

title7 = Des phares dans la nuit
extra7 = "Eyes Without a Face"
length7 = 3:32

title8 = Valse poursuite
extra8 = "Eyes Without a Face"
length8 = 1:45

title9 = Final
extra9 = "Eyes Without a Face"
length9 = 1:01

title10 = Générique
extra10 = "Thérèse Desqueyroux"
length10 = 1:54

title11 = Non-lieu
extra11 = "Thérèse Desqueyroux"
length11 = 1:35

title12 = Thérèse Desqueyroux
extra12 = "Thérèse Desqueyroux"
length12 = 2:50

title13 = La femme idéale
extra13 = "Les Dragueurs"
length13 = 2:36

title14 = La ballade des dragueurs
extra14 = "Les Dragueurs"
length14 = 2:47

title15 = Surboum chez Ghislaine
extra15 = "Les Dragueurs"
length15 = 2:01

title16 = L'oiseau de paradis
extra16 = "L'Oiseau de Paradis"
length16 = 2:48

title17 = L'univers d'Utrillo
extra17 = "Un court-métrage de Georges Régnier "
length17 = 4:44

title18 = Générique
extra18 = "Le Soleil dans l’œil"
length18 = 2:28

title19 = Thème
extra19 = "Mort, où est ta Victoire ?"
length19 = 3:30

title20 = Valse de Platonov
extra20 = "Recours en Grâce"
length20 = 3:50

title21 = Les animaux (générique)
extra21 = "Les Animaux"
length21 = 1:20

title22 = Pavane des flamands roses
extra22 = "Les Animaux"
length22 = 2:43

title23 = La fête
extra23 = "Les Animaux"
length23 = 2:18

title24 = Surf des loutres
extra24 = "Les Animaux"
length24 = 1:59

title25 = Mourir à Madrid
extra25 = "Mourir à Madrid"
length25 = 4:21

title26 = Générique
extra26 = "Week-End à Zuydcoote"
length26 = 2:28

title27 = Sergent Maillat
extra27 = "Week-End à Zuydcoote"
length27 = 3:10

title28 = Final
extra28 = "Week-End à Zuydcoote"
length28 = 1:29




* Ashby, Justine and Higson, Andrew. "British Cinema: Past and Present". New York: Routledge, 2000. ISBN 0-41522-061-0.
* Ince, Kate. "Georges Franju". Manchester University Press, 2005. ISBN 0719068282.
* Hawkins, Joan. "Cutting Edge: Art-Horror and the Horrific Avant-Garde". Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. ISBN 0-81663-414-9.
* Schneider, Steven Jay, ed. "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die". Hauppauge, New York: Barron's Educational Series, 2005. ISBN 0-76415-907-0.
* Turan, Kenneth. "Eyes Without a Face: Don't Make Me Over." "The X-list: The National Society of Film Critics' Guide to the Movies That Turn Us On". Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-306-81445-5.

External links


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