Saturday, 27 February 2016

Revisiting Opera

A promise kept to watch Argento's Opera this evening... Not having seen the film in many years I was looking forward to this screening, but my excitement has given way to major disappointment. Evidently something has gone badly wrong in the intervening years and what I once considered the final masterwork in a glorious run of films now looks like the first step towards the dismantling of a great career. Argento's refusal to confront any of the problems posed by his screenplay is genuinely brazen but ultimately ruinous, the film's absurdities stack up as fast as the bodies, and there's the unspeakable dialogue to wrestle with ("A maniac is after me. I need your advice on what to do"). And yet the film is often a treat to watch as a piece of pure cinema with some truly remarkable and inventive camerawork - it's a shame no footage from the production has surfaced, the camera rig that swirls around the opera house must have been some sight judging by the shadow it casts over the audience. Incidentally, having seen the film with English and Italian dubs, I must conclude that the squawking crows turn in the film's best performances, unlike the human cast whose lips are left flapping like stranded fish long after the dialogue has run out...


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