“WHO SAW HER DIE?”— A Special Edition

“WHO SAW HER DIE?”

A Special Edition

Amos Lassen

Former Bond star George Lazenby stars in “Who Saw Her die”, a classic giallo directed by Aldo Lado. It has a haunting atmosphere and is filled with twists and turns.

Sculptor Franco Serpieri (Lazenby) has a young daughter,  Roberta (Nicoletta Elmi) from a failed marriage  and does not realize that a disturbed child-killer is stalking the Venice s canals. When Roberta’s body is found floating face-down in the river, the lives of Franco and his estranged wife Elizabeth (Anita Strindberg) are torn into pieces. Franco wants vengeance and becomes a detective to track down his daughter’s killer. In the process he discovers shocking evidence of depravity and corruption that implicates some of the most powerful and respected figures in Venetian society.

The film begins with a prologue set in France in 1968and we see  a child playing in the snow. Lado builds this moment of childhood innocence before giving us a point of view shot from beneath a black veil. The murder that follows is all the more effective because of its swiftness and by the efforts of the black clad psychopath to hide the child’s corpse beneath the snow. Lado illustrates the fine line between the carefree innocence of childhood and an adult world of murder and violence. The scene of a child being murdered so early creates tension that never lets up even in the films quieter moments. In a brief credits sequence we get a look  into the case files of the police investigation and the narrative begins proper with the knowledge that the child’s murder is still unsolved. Then the film jumps forward to 1972 and we see a plane coming into land at an airport. We are quickly introduced to sculptor Franco as he picks up his daughter and shows her the sites of Venice.

The Venetian setting allows Lado’s camera to wind through the waterways, backstreets, and cloisters of the ancient city stressing that it like A its labyrinth. It dwells on the decadent architecture yet, at the same time, it mistrusts the artifice of the people. There is a sense here that the characters that we meet are not worthy of such a space in which to play out their perversions and conspiracies. Lado gives us an unfamiliar look at Venice. He picks out somber and tired streets, mist covered boat rides and the overriding sensation of claustrophobia and dislocation is stressed.

It takes the killer three or four tries to finally snatch Franco’s daughter and each moment is preceded by music that builds dread. Each of the adult characters that Franco meets seem to take an unnatural interest in the girl and a subtext of pedophilia comes forward. This reaches an apex in a sequence set at a basketball match run by a priest who constantly flits in and out of the narrative. It is no surprise that the police are ineffectual; they failed the first time around in France to catch the culprit, so Franco is forced to become an amateur detective. Franco is bitter, driven, and obsessive yet sympathetic and believable. When Franco’s investigation begins the convolution also increases, but as he goes about his research he begins to discover a conspiracy of perversion and child molestation with wealthy art dealer called Serafian (Adolfo Celi) at its core. 

It is possible to predict who the killer is and when it is revealed it isn’t a surprise. But Lado does reserve an excellent slow motion death for the perverted psycho. The only weakness is a lack of identifiable motive. We are never sure why the killer commit’s the crimes because the film rushes rather too quickly to a contrived conclusion. But these are minor weaknesses because this is a very stylish giallo.

During the murder sequence, we get brief glimpses of the antagonist and it appears to be a lady dressed all in black, with a black veil over her face. In true giallo fashion, we do get some first person shots from inside the veil as the murderer stalks her prey.
I felt a sense a dread seeing Roberta playing with her friends in the village square. This was interrupted by the first person shot from behind the veil of the killer. I knew this was coming, it was just a matter of when, but I didn’t expect to be so disappointed that Roberta was about to meet her fate. 

“Who Saw Her Die?” is  an excellent example of the giallo genre, and truly succeeds. Aldo Lado made use of his quaint setting to great effect and got good acting from his actors. The sound design is wonderful.

 

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  Brand new 2K restoration of the full-length Italian version of the film from the original 35mm camera negative

  High Definition Blu-rayTM (1080p) presentation

  Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio

  Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits

  Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

  New audio commentary by author and critic Travis Crawford

  I Saw Her Die, a new video interview with director Aldo Lado

  Nicoletta, Child of Darkness, a new video interview with actress Nicoletta Elmi

  Once Upon a Time in Venice, a new video interview with co-writer Francesco Barilli

  Giallo in Venice, a new video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie

  Original Italian and English theatrical trailers

  Poster and fotobusta gallery

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love

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