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By JASON COMERFORD

Georges Franju's 1960 film Eyes Without a Face is a classic horror tale raised to the level of poetic tragedy. Adapted from a novel by French writer Jean Redon, the story concerns Dr. Génessier (Pierre Brasseur), a surgeon whose obsession with restoring the beauty of his daughter Christiane (Edith Scob) leads to horrific results. Far from being a typical mad scientist, Dr. Génessier's unblinking devotion to his sole remaining family member proves both tragic and monstrous -- and results in one of cinema's most indelible images: the ghostly Christiane, dressed in high-collared white coats and gowns and wearing a blank white mask, hovering about the staircases of Génessier's isolated, palatial estate, waiting apprehensively as her father's experiments repeatedly prove fatal.

A dark fairy tale like none other, Eyes Without a Face was initially greeted with controversy and hostility upon its initial release in France, mostly over a key scene where the monstrous Dr. Génessier performs one of his face-grafting procedures. Eyes Without a Face was edited down and retitled The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus for its initial American release, and spent the next few decades gathering a devoted cult following before being restored to its original length in 2003, and has remained a key hallmark in the cinema of its decade; Hong Kong director John Woo would later help himself to much of the film's key imagery for his action opus Face/Off in 1997.

Composer Maurice Jarre had already collaborated with Franju on his previous film La Tête contre les murs (Head Against the Wall), and for Eyes Without a Face he contributed one of his characteristically unique scores, centered around an eerily jolly waltz for harpsichord. The carnivalesque theme is often heard underscoring scenes where Génessier's assistant Louise (Alida Valli) stalks Génessier's next victims, the circular melody providing a stark contrast to the onscreen action and suggesting an endless cycle of madness. Eyes Without a Face is actually scored very minimally, with perhaps 15-20 minutes of music throughout the entire film, but Jarre's score, alternately melancholy and chilling, would end up becoming one of its most effective elements.

Jarre's career was on the verge of breaking wide open; within the next five years, he would go on to score cinematic classics including Lawrence of Arabia, The Longest Day, The Train and Doctor Zhivago (among many others). 13 minutes of the original film recordings for Eyes Without a Face were included on a 2005 compilation from the French label Play Time entitled Maurice Jarre: Ma Période Française; the album is long out of print and difficult to find, but it's worth the time and effort to locate.

AUTHOR NOTE: Special thanks to Ed Dennis and Craig Spaulding of Screen Archives Entertainment for their help in acquiring this title.

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The Moment in Question:

Click [here] to listen to a sample of
"Générique" from Eyes Without a Face,
composed by Maurice Jarre.

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... ..Maurice Jarre

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Download Soundtrack - Amazon mp3


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Roque Baños has an ill-fated encounter
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READER COMMENTS:

Howlin' Wolf  
Congratulations to Mike, the Week 3 Prize Winner. Thank you for participating in 13 Chills. This weeks prize selection, Frozen, compliments of 2M1 Records!

The Grand Prize Drawing coming Halloween!!
     
Peloquin  
I am not familiar with this one, I know Maurice Jarre's through the later works. This has such a jarring theme, that grabbed my attention [as I listen to samples on Amazon], sad it is so short. I am glad what little is there is available to fans of scores. Great post, congratulations to third week winner, once again great prizes. I was unaware "Frozen" was available...
   
Sandor  
I never saw the movie, but I'm very curious... this music has a kind of ironic feel. Not a conventional big orchestral horror-style. This carouselmusic is like a nightmare (the fury has a certain kind of sound too). I don't know how it relates to the film, but it sounds like it is commenting or so...
   
Jonathan  
I love Jarre, and I really have to try and locate the album talked about. Even for only a couple of minutes. I love Jarre's great score from the 60s.
     
David W.  
I'm not familiar with this one. The sample music almost sounds playful, in a creepy way. I like the pictures on the banner pretty sweet.
     
Scott   I am not at all familiar with this score, but I really am enjoying the sound sample. Thank you for the link...I may have to pick up the download on it. Thank you AGAIN for doing the 13 chills, it has been fun. Can't believe Halloween is almost upon us. Everyone have a safe and enjoyable holiday!!  
     
Josh
 
Wow! Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I'd never even heard of this film or score before, but now I'm on the hunt for the CD. Looks like a really creepy movie, too. Happy Halloween, everybody!
     
Mike   Eyes Without a Face is an excellent horror film. It's enormously atmospheric and genuinely suspenseful. Even with Halloween now nearly over, I definitely recommend checking it out. The film is worth watching any time of the year. In addition to the carousel-like music in the sample here, Jarre wrote a beautiful and haunting theme for the tragic, disfigured Christiane.