|Who is it?
|Director, Writer, Composer
|April 12, 1912
|Fougères, Ille-et-Vilaine, France, France
|Georges Franju age
|108 YEARS OLD
|5 November 1987(1987-11-05) (aged 75)\nParis, France
Before working in French cinema, Franju had several different jobs. These included working for an insurance company and a noodle factory. Franju was also briefly in the military in Algeria and was discharged in 1932. On his return, Franju studied to become a set designer and later created backdrops for music halls including Casino de Paris and the Folles Bergère.
In the mid-thirties, Franju and Henri Langlois met through Franju's twin brother Jacques Franju. As well as creating the 16 mm short film Le Métro, Langlois and Franju also started a short-lived film magazine and created a film club called Le Cercle du Cinema with 500 francs he borrowed from Langlois' parents. The club showed silent films from their own collections followed by an informal debate about them amongst members. From Le Cercle du Cinema, Franju and Langlois founded the Cinématheque Française in 1936. Franju ceased to be closely related with the Cinématheque Française as early as 1938, and only became associated with it strongly again in the 1980s when he was appointed as the honorary artistic Director of the Cinématheque. In 1937, Franju and Langlois co-founded another less successful film journal titled Cinematographe which had only two issues. In early 1940, Franju and Dominique Johansen co-founded another organization to promote cinema called Circuit Cinématographique des Arts et des Sciences which closed on 31 May 1940.
In 1949, Franju began work on a series of nine documentary films. The Nazi occupation of Paris and the industrialism following World War II influenced Franju's early works. His first documentary, The Blood of Beasts (French: Le Sang des Bêtes) was a graphic film of a day inside a Paris slaughterhouse. The second documentary, commissioned by the government in 1950, was Passing By the Lorraine (French: En Passant par la Lorraine). The film was commissioned as a celebration of the modernization of the French industry, but Franju's film showed his view of the ugliness spewing forth from monstrous factories. Franju's third film commissioned by the French government, Hôtel des Invalides (1951), was a look at life inside a veterans' hospital. The film was commissioned as a tribute to the hospital and the War Museum, but Franju turned it into a film against the glorification of militarism. Franju later said that Hôtel des Invalides was his favorite of his three "slaughter" films.
With Head Against the Wall (French:La tête contre les murs) in 1958, Franju turned toward fiction feature films. His second feature was the horror film Eyes Without a Face (French:Les Yeux sans Visage) about a surgeon who tries to repair his daughter's ruined face by grafting on to it the faces of beautiful women. His 1963 film Judex was a tribute to the silent film serials Judex and Fantomas. In Franju's later years his film work became less frequent. Franju occasionally directed for television and in the late seventies he retired from filmmaking to preside over the Cinématheque Française. Georges Franju died on 5 November 1987.
The same is true of Fanju’s most famous film Les Yeux sans visage, which also uses aspects of the scientific documentary film to accentuate horror. Les Yeux sans visage proved so horrific that audience members in Edinburgh fainted during screenings. Throughout the film, there is a specific focus on the scientific aspects of the procedures Dr. Genessier performs. This is most notable during the most graphic grafting scene in the film during which a large importance is placed on surgical lamps, the scalpel being used, gloves, masks, and operating tables. Once again, the contradiction between the methodical, scientific approach to this horrific situation and the situation itself serves to accentuate the horror. Les Yeux sans visage also uses surrealist elements in order to address aspects of post-war life. During one scene, loud, disrupting noises of an airplane and church bells are heard while Dr. Genessier and Louise bury a failed facial graft candidate. This scene serves to portray the loss of faith in Medicine (represented by the body created by another of Dr. Genessier’s many failed attempts to complete this surgery), the progress of Technology (represented by the airplane), and the comfort of religion (represented by the church bells). This surrealist combination forces a new view of modernity and thus a reevaluation of the past.