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Friday, March 14, 2014

Opera (1987)

Holy crap!  Opera is one intense film.  It can best be described as The Phantom of the Opera filtered through the lens of master horror director Dario Argento.  This film is NOT for the faint of heart.  Argento did triple duty on Opera, serving as director, producer and screenwriter.  It’s the kind of thing that gets M Night Shyamalan into trouble, but works flawlessly for Argento.  It’s his vision on the screen and his vision only, and what a beautifully disturbing vision it is!

Let’s start with the visuals.  Argento, with the help of cinematographer Ronnie Taylor [Star Wars: Episode IV, Gandhi], gives us a feast for the eyes that has a dramatic/operatic quality to it.  Every shot is perfectly composed.  Every object is meticulously placed.  Nothing is wasted or sloppy.  There are few people who can pull off this kind of brilliance.  Argento is one of them.  Looking at the film, one would swear this was a more modern film than its 1987 date.

Furthermore, the kills in this film are spectacularly intense and wonderfully creative.  If you’re squeamish, skip Opera altogether. The villain in this one is no mysterious man running around the catacombs in a cape and a mask.  He’s a deranged killer who is completely obsessed with a young opera star.  Argento forces us to watch every gory detail of the villain’s masochistic personality.  It’s rough viewing but it’s masterfully done.

The acting is first rate as well.  Cristina Marsillach is perfect as the up and coming opera singer Betty, who steps into the lead role in Verdi's MacBeth when it’s lead is “accidentally” hit by a car.  Her range of emotions is wonderful and she avoid most of the over-the-top histrionics that are typical of Italian horror.  The rest of the cast is great as well.

I think Opera is one of Dario Argento’s best that holds up extremely well over time.  Watch it if you dare!

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


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