Monday, 19 March 2012



Published here:

Cinephilia & Beyond


  1. This is a great write up, Paul. You’ve completely captured what makes Opera such an uneasy viewing experience. The audience is completely rendered vulnerable through the dizzying use of multiple point of view shots intercut with unnerving wide angled shots. You never know what will come next, or from whose sordid point of view you’ll see it; therein the suspense lies. That much of the action takes place in such open, widely filmed spaces – with the killer often just stepping into each shot as though from nowhere – also completely unnerves. All this visual displacement and the fractured approach to narration combines to create a frenzied, maddening work that, I for one, never grow tired of watching.

  2. Thanks James! Great to hear your thoughts on this. You're dead right about the killer entering his own POV. There's a devious mind at work - has a strange effect on the viewer. It's just one angle on the film, watching it again, there's so many interpretations. I hardly mentioned the terrific and jarring soundtrack, which is just as disruptive as the imagery. One of his best. Cheers.

  3. Excellent post Paul, I enjoyed reading it very much and I'm eager to revisit the film now. This film brings a mixture of joy and sadness to me - joy because the film is such a dazzling garden of delights, and sadness because I draw a line in the sand in Argento's filmography at this point. I remember picking up the film when it first came out on VHS in Ireland, and even after BBFC tampering, the brilliance of the film still shone through. Years later I caught the Arrow DVD and was something of a revelation - finally seeing the film in it's original form and crucially in Italian - which I think it plays better in. I like the way the ending of Opera and the beginning of Phenomena have the same visual feel and despite the skewed continuity I think they make for a great double-bill seen in that order. Incidentally, I love the look of the Macbeth set in the film, I wonder was ever asked to direct an opera...

    1. Thanks a lot, Wes. Never thought of the connection with the end of Opera and beginning of Phenomena. Almost as if he used the same location. Isn’t there a waterfall in Stendhal Syndrome? Recurring locations…

      I would love to see Argento’s work in the cinema. Also had to make do with dodgy 4:3 pan/scan version for years. Still truly haunting though.

      I’ve read that he was about to direct an Opera in the mid-1980s but as the Italians were so offended by Ken Russell’s production at the same time they pulled out. I wonder if they used some of the theatre design for the film from the intended theatrical production? It looks really creative.

      I agree with James Gracey in his blog; I think there are several great works after Opera: Two Evil Eyes, Trauma and Stendhal Syndrome are worth a revisit. Stendhal has a real claustrophobic sense of place; quite clever about how we relive serious trauma.