L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970)
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Even though this was Dario Argento's debut feature it is remarkably well made; extremely confident, bursting with cinematic flair and bags of atmosphere in what was to become his trademark style, for good and for bad. Like the later "Deep Red" and "Suspiria" he is scores highly on the visuals and atmosphere - several scenes are beautifully shot and cleverly conceived - for example the opening attack inside a white art gallery, the protagonist trapped between two huge glass walls able to watch but unable to help or hear the screams of the injured woman - but low on basic plot logic, a competent script and character motivation, and it is full of the violent misogyny rife in the Giallo genre Argento exemplified. He is more interested in the way a razor would realistically cut the skin of a woman being murdered than what any sane person or basically functioning police department would do if investigating a serial killer. To criticise Argento for realism or logic is a little silly for exactly that reason, as a master of style it really doesn't matter why the police allow and encourage a civilian to pursue an independent investigation when he is directly involved, or why he repeatedly puts his and his girlfriend's lives at risk when directly threatened.
The final twist is nothing extraordinary by today's standards, even predictable, where a thriller needing a twist has now become the norm it's not hard to find one. It also falls apart under too much scrutiny, but again, Argento probably wasn't too bothered about that - as an exercise in style and pure cinema Argento was undoubtedly firing on all cylinders right from the start.
"Go to Italy. It's a peaceful country. Nothing ever happens there."
For some reason i wasn't interested to watch Argento's debut up to recently. First i have to say that some people's attitude towards these dream-like and surrealistic films is wrong.
It's not right to call them dumb, illogical... since they are not meant to be realistic, but multi-layered puzzle that is cross between Hitchcock & Buñuel.
This film is a decent example of stylish mystery, however it is a bit of an unfocused mess towards the end. It's not too original, but Argento is an A-class filmmaker compared to amateur Fulci.
Oh, and i see where Carpenter got inspiration... for example: when Michael Myers is stalking Jamie Lee Curtis - some shot compositions are pretty much the same.
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In 5 official lists
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This movie ranks #9 in BFI's 100 European Horror Films
This movie ranks #42 in Grindhouse Cinema Database's Top Grindhouse Classics
This movie ranks #265 in TSZDT's The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films
This movie ranks #272 in Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #508 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die