Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Back of the Head of Dario Argento


I've noticed something in some of Argento’s movies, and I guess it's takes nerd to start noticing this, Argento’s fascination with the back of the head. Ok, we all know that there's shots of peoples head from the behind in almost all movies, but these shots are so distinctive. The shots a long and very clear and it feels like theres a purpose with them.

Do Argento want to tell us something?. Or at least hint something about the characters or whats going to happen. Or maybe it's nothing conscious, just something that dear Dario ads because he feels for it, without any deeper meanings.

So, I have five examples of this (I can probably find more). And beware, because these have major spoilers about (for example) the killers identity and other crucial plot points.

The first time I noticed it was in Nonhosonno, when the camera tracks behind the killers head and stays for quite a long time focusing on the back of the head. It's a nice touch, but feels very out of sync with the rest of the scene - as Argento just forgot to push the "edit out"-button. It just goes on and on and on…

The most obvious thought is that it tries to hint that the killers head would some minutes later be blown apart by the police. Or is it a strange way of telling us in the audience to "look" into the killers mind and be "one" with him.


In the underrated The Card Player there's a more difficult one to crack. It's the back of one of the police officers head during a scene where they try to find someone that's good at internet-poker at a game place. This is also a shot that goes on forever and then the scene continues. I have no real theory about this one and what I can remember if the police officer really has something important to tell us or to find.


Or is it just a clever and quite confusing red herring? I don't know really.

One of the finest and best used example is in the also underrated Stendahl Syndrome where we see the back of the head of Asia Argento. I'm not really sure right now, but it can be right after the incident at the museum where a character is killed or badly hurt (I must watch it soon again) at the end of the movie. You all remember the room filled with statues.


I see it so that Asia maybe subconsciously realize that she's the killer, she's the bad guy, and the camera just hangs on to her head so we're gonna have a chance to look into her. 

I also found a very early, but maybe not, example of this in Inferno. During the sequence in the university in Rome (?) where the witch shows up and confuses one of the pupils, there's a long shot of our heroes heads, of course the backside. It's probably just an odd choice in editing and some of it is to show that he's reading a letter - but it's very long, and the whole shot feels strange.


Below I also has four examples from Mother of Tears, and all these (there are more in the movie, but not so obvious) are shots where Argento lingers on the back of the head. In every case theres some tension going on. Something is gonna happen, or is just happening. 

Well, it's probably just me rambling a lot of crap. But I just observed these shots and felt like writing down my thoughts.




1 comment:

Cha said...

For the ultimate in shooting the back of people's heads, watch Elephant by Gus Van Sant.