The Criterion Collection has given a high-definition upgrade to Georges Franju’s French horror classic, Eyes Without A Face, which they previously released on DVD in 2004 and was reviewed here at Blogcritics,
Based on Jean Redon’s novel, the film tells a very intriguing story about the lengths a father is driven to when motivated by guilt and love. The script has a number of good plot twists that surprise throughout by taking conventions and doing the unexpected with them in a believable way. However, the film does show its age at times with pacing that is too slow in a few spots for a modern-day audience.
The video has been given a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at 1.66:1. The liner notes reveal that “this new high-definition digital transfer was on a Spirit film scanner from the original camera negative.” Blacks are rich. The image mostly offers well-defined objects and sharp details, occasional softness appears due to the source. It is caused by fog in some exterior daytime shots. Banding can be seen in an approaching car’s headlights during opening scene.
“The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35 mm sound negative. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube’s integrated workstation.” The score has limited dynamics and sounds a bit flat even as it hits high notes. Dialogue is clear and though in French, the emotions come through clearly. The track sounds free of damage and wear.
With the exception of a new interview with Scob (HD, 9 min), the bonus features are from the previous DVD release. Franju’s first film, Blood of the Beasts (HD, 22 min) is a graphic documentary about the slaughterhouses of Paris. “Le Fantastique” (HD, 6 min) is an interview with Franju from the 1982 French program Cine-parade conducted by an odd-looking fellow. “Boileau and Narceja” feature interview excerpts from screenwriting team Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narceja taken from the documentary. There is the French trailer (HD, 4 min) and the English trailer (HD, 3 min) in which the film is titled The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus and paired with The Manster. The accompanying 20-page booklet includes the essays “Appearances to the Contrary: Franju’s Eyes Without a Face” by Patrick McGrath and “Eyes Without a Face: The Unreal Reality” by David Kalat.
For those who enjoy horror infused with compelling ideas, Eyes Without A Face is a great selection, and Criterion has given it a visually appealing HD presentation.