AKA: IL PROFUMO DELLA SIGNORA IN NERO
REVIEWED BY- STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY- FRANCESCO BARILLI CAST- MIMSY FARMER, MAURIZIO BONUGLIA, MARIO SCACCIA, DONNA JORDAN, ORAZIO ORLANDO, and NIKE ARRIGHI. SOURCE- RARO VIDEO/NOCTURNO DVD PAL REGION 0
When one has seen many films that came out of Italy onto the DVD format, they often wonder, is there anymore left to explore? Given the nature that most of all of these films have finally found a home onto this wonderful format, not so! Francesco Barilliís 1974 horror/thriller is a testament to the long list of hidden gems that await the shiny formatted treatment. This is one of countless amount of titles that many die hard fans such as myself await word of, those magical words that say "Being released onto DVD on this date!". Titles like Bavaís DANGER: DIABOLIK and Argentoís FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET. Why do I use only those two titles, well simple really. While watching THE PERFUME OF A LADY IN BLACK, one canít help but notice the influences that both Bava and Argento might have had on this piece. Though one would contest, simply to reply it is Barilliís natural family background of painters that holds the key to his successful film. I myself would have to side with both.
Barilli has approached this moving canvas as if he were painting on a still canvas, vibrant colours are used through this film, always very lush and full of life. Something that both Bava and Argento have used many times. Though never forgetting those tones that only a keen eye would sense and ultimately adding to the mix. Echoes of films like Argentoís SUSPIRIA and Bavaís TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE. Brillia hasnít ripped these wonderful methods off at all, he has given them his own touch, his painterís touch. What really amazed me about this film is Barilliís keen sense of framing the scene and his direction of camera movements. All of which are very important factors throughout this entire film. Though I can use several examples, one in particular really stood out. The scene which starts of a low angled shot of Mimsyís character about to enter the house in which she once lived. The camera following her from behind as she walks through a heavily wooded row of trees which eventually break open into a small courtyard and the house itself. All of which is framed with perfection, driving the mood and atmosphere almost subduing the viewer. Something that happens quite often throughout the film, hints of a soothing mind drug given your brain that need relaxation and then storming it with a borage of strange images and situations that only are explained in the filmís final moments. All of which highlight the voodoo and supernatural undertones that only leak out in small doses, something that in the end becomes very important.
Also very much in use in PERFUME is the lack of any really plot, just several scenes patched together that in fact do have a direction, though it being a simple one. Donít let this scare you away though, all of these elements are packaged together in a way that one could actually enjoy the filmís pace through images, actions and most importantly the score that highlights it all. Yes, like Goblinís driving score showcased in SUSPIRIA, and Stevio Ciprianiís deceitful and emotional score for TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE, Nicola Piovaniís is equally as effective. Just as lush as Barilliís direction, Piovaniís accents every scene and moment with complete precision.
This without a doubt has certainly become a quickly one of my favorite Mimsy Farmer roles. Playing an often very unstable women walking a thin rope ready to fall from reality. Mimsy certainly shows that she is more then capable of handling this type of role, especially when she had already toughed it in Argentoís FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET. Though I really enjoyed that role of Nina, it was her role here in PERFUME as Silva that really opened my eyes to her beauty. Of course that is something else Barilli was able to do, highlight her beauty. Everything from her clothing right down to her few nude scenes, all of which were down with such artful tastes. Even her facial and body expressions generated moods, even whole scenes with just her close-ups alone. Of course Mimsy is just the cherry on the casting cake here, something that is very deep and rich indeed. Her co-star of Maurizio Bonuglia (THE FIFTH CHORD, RING OF DEATH) who plays Silviaís lover, Roberto. Who is simply a character of mystery, of course that can be said of all of the characters involved. Though, for the most part you are torn between who to believe. Is Silvia sane or all of these people around her are playing a serious joke, of course those who have seen this know what that means. Anyhow, of the characters involved are represented with great performances. Especially little Lara Wendel who plays Silvia inner-child who is a constant haunting factor in Silviaís eventual breakdown.
Back to Barilliís methods used to film this classic little gem. There are several elements that like mentioned earlier echo that of both Argento and Bava. Another one in particular that rings that familiar beel is that fact of Barilli using the whole ALICE IN WONDERLAND theme. Though as he explains it in the interview supplied with the discís extras. He says it is simply to highlight the characters and how they are all mad. Of course one could easily see this, but one canít help by also seeing the links to various Argento pieces that also incorporate these lullabies etc. Yet there were several scene that were reminiscent to Bava's gothic touches. Especially in the scene where Mario Scaccia's character is being butchered with a hatchet. The lighting is only minimal, but just right to illuminate the perfect shadowing.
The Raro disc is yet another hit in my books. Presented in anamorphic wide-screen which Raro did a wonderful job highlighting Barilliís use of vibrate colours etc. The picture is quite clear and clean. Audio iwse you have a choice, which is also a bonus for those who canít stand subtitles. Though technically this film was shot in both Italian and English, so both options are there. The extras continue the pace with a very indepth feature where you are treat to an extended interview with director Francesico Barilli as he discusses the whole process in which he endured to get THE PERFUME OF A LADY IN BLACK together. Once again you have a choice, to watch this feature in Italian or in Italian with English subtitles. There is also both a filmography and biography for Barilli as well, both of which are also presented in Italian and English.
STORY-3.5 BITCH SLAPS (Where lacking in plot, images and situations made up for) PICTURE- 4 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO- 3 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS- 3 BITCH SLAPS OVERALL DVD- 3 BITCH SLAPS
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