White of the Eye Reviews
As one would expect from such a visionary artist White of the Eye is visually and aurally resplendent throughout with some eye popping set-pieces and driving music score courtesy of Nick Mason (Pink Floyd).
Two sequences in particular are reminscent of Dario Argento and Mario Bava.
Whilst the story is pretty much a basic stalk and slash, the inventive visuals and narrative arc which are afforded this film set it aside from it's contemporaries.
In fact White of the Eye is part slasher, part psychological drama come character study.
There are very few films like this because of the unique visual composition and the way Cammell tells the story.
This consists of overexposed flashbacks and unusual editing techniques.
Both David Keith and Cathy Moriarty are great and some of the dialogue between the two is both spiritual and intellectual.
White of the Eye being borderline arthouse doesn't cater to someone who doesn't appreciate art and intellectual cinema.
If you find Hollywood trash is rotting your brain and doesn't stimulate your mind try giving Cammell's film a try.
In terms of plot, "White of the Eye" is probably the most conventional of Cammell's films - the narrative is a straightforward rendition of the "slasher" genre (if one wishes to call it as such), offering up no surprising developments or unexpected turns - but everything else about the film is far from conventional.
The editing is by far the most mesmerizing aspect of the film. The cuts are elliptical, with time and space overlapping with one another until they ultimately merge, creating a surreal and hallucinatory ambiance.
Adding to this mood is the fact that the cuts are often not cuts at all but rather dissolves - shots melt into one another instead of being severed by splicing as they normally are, not only amplifying the dream-like nature of the film but also seeming to suggest that the characters are linked to one another on a more metaphysical level rather than their social relationships.
Yet there is another significant detail about the editing that needs to be addressed - the rapid succession of of cuts made during several key sequences. For example, the first murder sequence is not simply shot in a long take - nor is it filmed in a gritty, kinetic style as they often are - but rather it is carefully constructed with a multitude of symbolic edits that both compliment and contrast the scene with a series of juxtapositions (a goldfish flounders in a bowl of meat, the heads of roses become detached as they fall, red sauce is splattered across a white table and a painting, etc.). These sequences are so rich and detail that it would take several viewings to fully comprehend each shot's significance.
In addition to the spectacular editing, the direction is just as superb, with the camera tracking in forcefully and spinning around characters rapidly to create greater intensity and "presence" (we feel... we experience more).
The cinematography is also striking with such wonderful compositional decisions as extreme closeup of the eye, sudden inversion of colors (that is, shot in the negative), etc.
Interestingly, the musical score is composed by members of "Pink Floyd" and is truly haunting - it's strange, not rhythmic, and unbalanced, amplifying the uneasy, surreal, and dream-like atmosphere the other aspects of the film have already established.
The film is an experience. It is a visceral and psychedelic assault on the senses. It has to be felt and not rigorously deconstructed. It is a film about the surface, about symbolisms, about metaphors, about a mood, about a feeling, all told with a framework of a conventional genre piece. Conflicting elements to be sure, but a mesmerizing film none the less.