Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eugénie (1974)

Eugénie has one of the best openings I've seen in a long while: We see amateur-footage from a bedroom, a home movie. There's three people there, alternating handling the camera. One of them is a cute blond. She's being put on the bed and the man starts to kiss her. Then he strangles her in front of the camera, looks up and right at us and smiles. It's a snuff movie, and suddenly we're in a small cinema. Jess Franco in the character of Attila Tanner, is sitting and watching the clip. He's smoking. A man comes in and tells him that Eugénie has regained consciousness and now the story starts.

This is such a perfect opening. It forces you into the story. You want to know who the people in footage is, why is Franco sitting and watching it, and what have Eugénie to tell us now when she's awake again? It's a dark story, and probably the best script by Jess Franco ever. It tells the story of teenage girl Eugénie and her father, the writer Albert Radeck. After discovering her fathers book about sadistic sex, she feels almost an erotic urge to be a slave under her father, and he agrees to this of course. Together they start a new relationship which gets more and more controversial, and more dark and obsessive. They start to kill people, film it and the only one that knows about this is writer Attila Tanner, who do nothing to prevent it - probably because he enjoys it as much as they...

Not only is Eugénie a smart and well written movie, it's directed with flair and intelligence, and has that realistic style that I love so much. Franco uses his zoom very little, and goes after carefully composed shots to tell his story without being speculative (but don't worry, it's filled with nudity and some violence). My favorite scenes is when the father and daughter meets Attila in Berlin, and the whole scenes in shot in one take (or maybe two...), where you only see their silhouettes. Very stylish and it looks amazing. The dialogue is also very good and I'm sure it echoes Franco himself a lot with references to music and literature.

So even if it's a cheap movie and produced by Marius Lesoeur (from the infamous Eurociné) it's also one of the best Franco-movies I've ever seen. It's low key and don't have any spectacular Rio-locations, but feels very personal and real. Paul Muller and Soledad Miranda is just marvelous in their roles, what a chemistry! Franco makes one of his best parts himself as the strange and obsessive writer Attila Tanner. Eugénie is so filled with controversial lust, made with so much talent, love and intelligence, that it's a shame it's not even more famous among Franco-fans.

Ah, I almost forgot. The music by Bruno Nicolai is superb, one of the best scores from this gentleman I've heard. It mixes typical Nicolai-stuff with avantgarde-jazz and hypnotic beats. I need this soundtrack badly!

Yes, Eugénie is a masterpiece. I said here and now and will never take those words back.


dfordoom said...

It's probably the most authentically Sadeian movies ever made. Franco is one of the few film-makers who truly understands de Sade. I agree it's one of his half-dozen best movies, and a great movie by any standards.

His other Eugénie movie, Eugénie: Her Journey into Perversion, is just as good in its own way.

Alex Bakshaev said...

Love this film, I much prefer it to bigger-budgeted "Eugenie" with Christopher Lee.
It's probably the best role for my favourite Paul Muller, unfortunately he was given mainly bit-parts by other directors.
This film's style is very successful and fully demonstrates Franco's intelligence. Minimalistic but never dire.
Love it love it love it.