Thursday, 8 March 2012

07 Chapter Two: Behind the Mask of the Killer

Looking at the typical mystery killer that is ever present in giallo, on the surface they may just looked like a fashionable if not fetishistic dressed generic murder; but if we delve a little deeper into the killers identity and background then we find out some interesting facts that could very well prove that these killers might just have deeper meaning than just being you mad psychopathic killer.

Let us remind ourselves that these movies are thirty to forty years old now, made (predominantly) in the early 1970s. The characters are approximately in their thirties and forties, which means the characters would have been born between 1930 and 1950 If the past trauma these films' killers experienced was in childhood, or experienced by their par-ents, doing the math, we find they are traumas occurring during World War II under Mussolini's Fascist rule. (Koven, 2006 p109)

Here Koven points out an interesting fact about the giallo killers, that the characters including the killers themselves would have been children during the Mussolini era. The killers in giallo tend to suffer from past trauma from their childhood and I think Koven here is trying to make the allegoric connection between the giallo killers and those of the children growing up under Mussolini’s Fascist rule.

Most gialli killers have experienced some kind of trauma in their diegetic pasts, which erupts murderously in the diegetic present. Take, for example, the films of Dario Argento, whose films often rely on the revelation of some kind of past trauma to explain their murders. In Bird, for example, we are told a psycho killer attacked Monica Ranieri (Eva Renzi) as a young girl, and she was lucky to be left alive. It was this trauma that sparked off her own murder spree, which the film is about. (Koven, 2006 p104)

Here, Koven is telling us that most of the killers in giallo do suffer some trauma in the childhoods and it is this trauma that is the main reason behind them growing up and committing murders. This I feel provides a strong argument that the killers themselves and their pasts are directly linked to the traumas of those Italians that grew up under Mussolini’s rule. I personally feel that this can be read as a genuine fear amongst Italians that the trauma’s of Mussolini’s Fascist era could have unforeseen effects on future generations, especially the young generation growing up under his rule, who might be more mentally venerable to suffering from long term trauma. The fear of the medically unknown can be quite a scary prospect, of which Italy was unable to predict how far the traumas caused by Mussolini would stretch into the nation’s future.

The films' audiences are likely to be ap-proximately the same age as the characters, so they either would have had early childhood memories of the war or been more than familiar with their parents' experiences. Are these films reflecting the more cultural explanation of 1970s Italian disassociation resulting from fascism, military defeat (con-sider how many of the audience members or their parents would have been soldiers during the war), and postwar reconstruction? (Koven, 2006 p109)

Here I think Koven clearly adds more evidence to support the connection between Killer and Mussolini; he points out that the films’ audience themselves would be of an age close to the characters themselves and would reflect on their and their parents own experiences of life under Mussolini’s reign; this I feel wouldn’t be such a far stretch for the Italian audience to make a connection between the films killer and Mussolini himself. Further to this Koven adds;

This death can take a number of forms, but one of the most popular is throwing the killer off of a cliff or other high place. This method of death seems to be a metaphoric "fall," whether echoing Satan's fall from Heaven, or our fall from Eden. The fall is almost always spectacular, filmed in slow motion and in such a way as to maximize the visual power of the image. In particular, in Lu-cio Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling, Don Alberto's fall is not only in slow mo-tion, but Fulci includes insert shots of the physical trauma the killer's face re-ceives by smashing into the cliff's rocks on his way down. (Koven, 2006 p107)

Here I feel Koven is making the connection between the gialli killers death on screen to the fall and demise of Mussolini’s Fascist reign; he points out that the falls themselves are filmed in a certain way that draws out the screen time of how watching the killer fall to his death, even taking the time to include close ups of the physical injuries incurred on their descent.

These falls are given tremendous amounts of on-screen time, so they must have some meaning beyond just narrative closure. Perhaps reading a lapsar-ian metaphor into them is excessive, but the films seem to welcome such analysis.(Koven, 2006 p108)

Here Koven points out the prospect of the metaphor of the killers fall to death and that of the fall of Mussolini; surely with the amount of screen time given to this falls it cannot be just a case of giving the film it’s narrative closure; yes there will be the argument that these falls and deaths are drawn out to allow more explicit violent scenes for the films audience to enjoy, but I feel there is more than enough evidence that we can strongly argue that these falls to death can be directly linked to the metaphor of the fall of man; with the man being Mussolini in the case of the giallo killer.

Koven notes that “The real past trauma is a historical one: the defeat and emasculation of Italy in the war and under fascism. And this trauma has been haunting Italians ever since.” (Koven, 2006 p109)

Koven here is pointing out that the trauma of Mussolini and the war has continued to haunt Italians and I’d argue that the giallo killers and their murders on screen are a visual representation of this traumatic fear.

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