Archive for April 9, 2008

Quote of the Day: Nothing up my sleeve

Posted in FILM, literature, Mythology with tags , , , on April 9, 2008 by dcairns

“I’ll snatch this story from the depths, by shock tactics. And if fate’s against me I’ll deal with fate. I’ll cheat it with a card trick.”


“The best of films is that it’s all a card trick done in front of the audience without letting them see what’s up one’s sleeve.”

~ Jean Cocteau, Diary of a Film.

Inspiring words! I urge filmmakers to keep them in mind and to remember also the words spoken to the poet in Cocteau’s OPRHEE: “Astonish me.”

The Chills #6: Release the hounds

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2008 by dcairns

Major spoiler alert: This is THE END OF THE MOVIE!


Taken me AGES to get to this one, but it’s a goody! Matthew McConkey says:

Another Francophile suggestion from me, but this time an ending rather than opening: The final scene of EYES WITHOUT A FACE.

Without having some other examples of Chills to refer to I might have missed the point a little, but the first thing I thought of was chills as in a “chiller film”. Then I re-read the words “beauty” and “otherness” in your description and realised I’d misinterpreted you. But to me horror + beauty + otherness = the end of Eyes Without A Face.

Franju pretty much was the champion in exploring that ambiguity by combining “horror chills” with “beauty chills” and the serenity of Christiane stopping to release the birds amid the carnage going on always manages to raise the hairs on my neck and send a shiver down my spine.

That’s a textbook example of The Chills right there. Georges Franju’s surgical romance played at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1959, where women screamed and strong men fainted. “Now I understand why Scotsmen wear skirts,” remarked the director.

Nevertheless Franju, who had previously investigated bloody slaughter in the poetic documentary LE SANG DES BETES, served up more bodily mutilation than audiences were used to seeing at the time, and in a manner that was both clinical and beautiful. Too methodically slow to really function as a thriller, the film defies categorisation, except that which Franju himself offered:

“It’s an anguish film. It’s a quieter mood than horror, something more subjacent, more internal, more penetrating. It’s horror in homeopathic doses.”

The Face on the Cutting Room Floor

Hugely influential, the film kickstarted Jesus Franco’s career, with THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF starting a series featuring Howard Vernon’s mad plastic surgeon, and other face transplant sagas like FACE / OFF following in due course.

I was even mixed up with one myself, a feature script written by my partner Fiona, MIRROR MIRROR, which attracted European Script Fund money but then never got made, partly I think because people couldn’t understand the principle that, like Franju’s classic, it was a fairy tale.