Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Les yeux sans visage

From a New York Times article, "A New Face: A Bold Surgeon, an Untried Surgery":

A team led by Dr. [Maria] Siemionow is planning to undertake what may be the most shocking medical procedure to occur in decades: a face transplant. . . .

From the moment Dr. Siemionow first proposed this surgery, she has been hearing about "Face/Off," the 1997 movie starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage as an F.B.I. agent and a criminal mastermind whose mugs are surgically swapped.

One night, before the first review of her proposal by colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic, she rented the movie to gauge the public's potential reaction to the operation.

"It was O.K., if you like Travolta," she shrugged. "But it was just science fiction."
An earlier movie is relevant too: Les yeux sans visage [Eyes without a face], a 1959 film by Georges Franju about a doctor who seeks to give his daughter a face transplant. (He was driving "like a madman," and the accident that ruined her face was his fault.)

Les yeux sans visage is one of the most gruesome and stylish horror movies I've seen. (Yes, it depicts the surgery.) It's equal in fascination to Carnival of Souls (the 1962 film made in Lawrence, Kansas). Both films are available on DVD from the Criterion Collection in beautifully restored prints.

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