Wednesday 16 May 2012

Who Saw Her Die? (Aldo Lado, 1972) DVD Review

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Opening in the snowy hills of France in 1968, it's not long before Ennio Morricone's eerily memorable score seeps into the film (children singing the title like a nursery rhyme), as we are plunged behind the veil of a killer – a twisted psychopath whose modus operandi relates to red-haired girls – in one of a series of effectively orchestrated scenes of stalking. At these times, and indeed throughout the film, Aldo (Night Train Murders) Lado's tight direction, Franco (Amityville 2) Di Giacomo's gorgeous cinematography, Morricone's score, and Angelo Curi's skilled editing, combine to create a sinister journey through the echoing waterways, canals, stairways, rooftops, and breath-taking architecture of Venice.

Pre-dating the much more widely recognised Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973), which tread similar ground a year later, Who Saw Her Die? details the trauma suffered by sculptor Franco (a rail-thin George Lazenby) and his estranged wife Elizabeth, after their red-haired daughter Roberta is taken by the veiled woman in black and found dead in the waters of a fruit market. However, Massimo D'Avack and Francesco Barilli's script (with help from Aldo Lado and Ruediger Von Spihes) opts to pay more attention – in true giallo fashion – to a civilian's (Franco) quest to find the killer when an ineffective police force can't help (you'll find similar narrative approaches in the likes of Dario Argento's The Bird With The Crystal Plumage).


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A cast of suspicious individuals with inter-twining back stories, populate the moody and misty landscape of the city of Venice, which Lado and Di Giacomo take the time to caress lovingly with their beautifully composed widescreen photography, often accompanied by playful shifts in audio (from sweeping breezes to the excited score). Typically for a giallo though, the ultimate reveal is a tad convoluted (not helped, at crucial points of plot revelations, by dialogue that gets slightly swamped by the rest of the soundtrack), yet the mystery of how charming art dealer Sarafian, beautiful-but-shady Ginevra, and the rest, all slot into place, as well as the sheer sense of style, maintain the impressive pacing.


This was Shameless Screen Entertainment's 14th release (from 2008), and it boasts a nice clear print which is the longest ever released in the UK (additional material upped the rating from a 15 to an 18 certificate on these shores). Fans of this type of filmmaking should be well served here, with a taut and stylish thriller that, while somewhat light on emotional depth, exhibits the eye of an artist.

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