L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970)

In the blog, I already mentioned  some Italian exploitation films from Joe d’Amato, a genre that seemed to have its own market in the Europe of the 70s. The father of all this movement is said to be Mario Brava, even though most people claim that the movie that started everything was L’ucello dalle piume di cristallo, from Dario Argento. Giallo was just born.

Giallo diegetic: any hint of a breast is an univocal sign that the killer might appear

Giallo (yellow in Italian) originally refers to the color cheap paperbacks were edited back in the days in the transalpine country, making an instance reference to the quality and theme of the flicks. However, in this case, the film is not that cheap like following movies made ended being.


L’ucello dalle piume di cristallo is a mix of a psychological thriller with terror elements. Sam Dalmas, an american writer is spending his last days in Italy upon returning to the States when all of a sudden he becomes the unwilling witness of a crime. Being a witness but also helping the poor lady being attacked, he develops an attachment to the events that bring him to start chasing the killer. The plot is simple, but the way everything is told will make the viewer take fake leads to the final interpretation of who the killer is.

Photography-wise the film has brilliant moments. Dario Argento was the son of a famous and talented Cinematography Director and that shows. Colors are perfectly combined, with the right accent in the right moment to bring extra diegetic  information and will always be a part of the plot from beginning to end.


Then there is the use of the camera. Combining the first (subjective), second (shoulder) and third person modes (objective), the director gives us several points of view on what’s happening and why is happening. That makes up for several intentional confusions that the director has planned for the viewer so he can be brought to the grand finale.

Who is the victim?

All in all, the movie is still worth seeing for two reasons: first, the plot is still fresh and will surprise even the brightest mind in the sofa; and second, like most Giallo films it provides enough flesh to keep your eyes wide open (ahhh the Italian women). Soundtrack is said to be from Ennio Morricone and that should be a good point, but I believe that the score is too classic for the movie; when compared to soundtracks from other Giallo films (those composed by Goblin for instance) one wishes it had a faster pace.



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