Saturday, July 16, 2005

Ripped-off innocence

Despite "Who saw her die?" (Aldo Lado, 1972) not being its director's best movie, it is encapsulating in a sharp and strong manner what seems to me the quintessential idea of the giallo genre: the rip-off of innocence.
Lado builds on this idea on the razor's edge - in a very interesting because very ambiguous manner.

Three scenes illustrate this in a striking way.

First. A clear allusion to pedophilia when a friend of the family, left alone with the young Roberta, caresses her on the cheek. Nothing more happens. But the way Lado films it turn this moment into an uncomfortable episode for us, making us feel as if we were voyeurs more than viewers.

The second is when we see Roberta alive for the last time, through the eyes of her killer. She's facing us, with her childish, intimated look. A terribly innocent prey. The second after we brutally cut from the sight of her face to an unbearable close-up of a piece of meat hanging in a cold room. This visually striking short-cut better expresses the violence of what's going to happen than any detailed crime-scene.

The last one, and maybe the most significant, is a seemingly light-hearted scene where we see children playing basket-ball in what looks like an old Venice church. In a moment Franco (George Lazenby, who's playing Roberta's father) will rush in this safe place, looking desperately for his daughter who's just disappeared, hoping for relief: maybe she's just here, playing basket ball with the others? No, she's not.

How could we think a second that this scene - children at play under the protection of God - could be such a strong symbol of a terrible and pervert rape of innocence?

"Monsters At Play" features an interesting review of this movie.

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