Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Cross/Cutting

First scene: A group of models on a catwalk, resplendent in their gold and silver outfits, the cameras recording, following their every move.  They hold at the end of the runway, a flash goes off, cold, like an accusation, threatening to reveal the truth behind this hideous facade; the ugliness beneath the glamour and the decadence.


Giallo [Dario Argento, 2009]:

Second scene: The killer - at this point, still largely unseen - excites himself by taking photographs of a bound and tortured victim.  Another flash of the camera, this time bright enough to transform the image into an abstract impression; a body without shape or definition, just form.  Like Dollarhyde in Manhunter (1986), the act of photographing the victim reveals a hidden truth; part of the great transformation that his image of death will bring.
 
 
Giallo [Dario Argento, 2009]:

Third scene: A return to the location of the first.  Celine (Elsa Pataky) on the catwalk, shimmering in a black transparent dress, caught in the crossfire of the flashbulbs.  Already the next victim, posed and manipulated, transformed by the glare of the lights and the framing of Argento's camera into a symbol of beauty; there to counter the ugliness (both physical and psychological) of this deranged killer.

 
Giallo [Dario Argento, 2009]:

The connection between these sequences is immediately clear.  A group of women - with particular emphasis placed on the two victims; current and potential - violated by the camera.  The image itself, as a weapon, powerful enough to penetrate deeper than the knives that Argento's own camera lingers over in excruciating detail, disarms the viewer through its provocation.  It finds an ugliness in this scene of fashionable grandeur (exposing the artificiality of the world; the medium itself) and beauty in an act of violence.  The power of the image, or the cross-cutting between it, is evident in the presentation of this scene, which could almost be called a master-class in how to use film editing to create a story.  The seeds of a story (and its development) suggest by the associations created between shots.

We know, from the way this sequence is structured - the intercutting between the locations, the three sets of women - that Celine is our next victim.  It is this notion of the camera as the murderous eye - leering and intrusive; already watching, observing, penetrating, like the gaze of the killer, the filmmaker, or the eyes of an audience - that imposes this narrative, this suspenseful chain of events, against the presentation of the actress, the "model", already a performer, already posed and placed for the benefit of the "voyeur."  Through this, Argento is once again questioning the nature of these violent movies and his own role as the instigator - the hands and eyes of each respective killer - where the viewer becomes victim.