(aka 'Head Against the Wall' or 'The Keepers')

 

Directed by Georges Franju

France 1959

 

An intense study of the clash between medical ideals, the first full-length work from Georges Franju (Les yeux sans visage, Judex) is a gripping examination of postwar psychiatric care, boasting a memorable cast including Pierre Brasseur, Anouk Aimée, Charles Aznavour, Paul Meurisse, and Jean-Pierre Mocky.

Mocky plays François Gérane, an aimless young man whose delinquent tendencies cause his father to have him committed to a psychiatric ward. There, under the cold command of Dr. Varmont (Brasseur), he finds himself fighting for his dignity, sanity, and freedom, barely holding on through the new-found love of his girlfriend Stephanie (Aimée) and the promise of rival Dr. Emery’s (Meurisse) more humane techniques.

Compassionate yet unflinching, La Tête contre les murs is a bold precursor to the likes of Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor and Milos Forman’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, revealing Franju’s poetic gift for creating images both concrete and evocative, and an ominous hint of the clinical horrors yet to come in
Les yeux sans visage. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the debut feature of a late-flowering, great filmmaker.

Poster

Theatrical Release: March 20th, 1959

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DVD Review: Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region FREE - PAL

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Distribution

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 83

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:32:48
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.31 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
Bitrate Graph
Audio Mono Dolby Digital French
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Eureka (Masters of Cinema)

Aspect Ratio:
Anamorphic - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Original French theatrical trailer
A new video interview with Jean-Pierre Mocky filmed in 2008 (9:33)
• A new video interview with Charles Aznavour filmed in 2008 (4:45)
• 48-page booklet containing newly-translated interviews with Georges Franju, newly-translated writing by Jean-Luc Godard, and an article by Raymond Durgnat (author of Franju).

DVD Release Date: September 21st, 2009
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Chapters 12

 

Comments

I think this is a marvelous film choice for The Masters of Cinema to release. Georges Franju (cofounder of the Cinematheque Francaise) made this, his first feature with leanings of Film Noir, mind-bending-thriller and social psychological expose. Subversively poetic and highly influential it contains Aznavour in his first screen role and the always sexy Anouk Aimée as Stéphanie the sensible girl(friend) next door. 

 

The image is in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, progressive, in a very consistent and watchable video transfer. Contrast is a bit muddy but detail has some surprisingly strong moments in close-up. There is a hint of black-level boosting with almost imperceptible edge-enhancement but correspondingly very little noise or artifacts. Overall the visuals are impressive for SD and consistent with the high quality of the label.

Audio is original mono - clear and consistent. MoC have added thorough English subtitles.

Supplements include a 10-minute 2008 video interview with Jean-Pierre Mocky where he relates the lack of interest in the film topic, now 1/2 a century ago. He discusses the writing and production details. There is also a 5-minute 2008 video interview with the bright-eyed, 84-year old, Charles Aznavour who recalls being asked if he would like to be in a film where he doesn't sing. His response was that he would never want to sing in a film. Included are the original French theatrical trailer and an extensive 48-page booklet containing newly-translated interviews with Georges Franju, newly-translated writing by Jean-Luc Godard, and an article by Raymond Durgnat (author of Franju).

This was a highly interesting film, perhaps somewhat dated but still had a fascinating edge to it. I appreciate being exposed to cinema like this and it's more kudos for the gang at MoC. Let's hope they continue forever. This film and adept DVD package are strongly recommended!  

Gary Tooze

 



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DVD Box Cover

    

 

 

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Spine # 83

Region 0 - PAL




 

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