French black and white, gothic horror, similar to "Rebecca" in style, atmosphere and artistic direction.
The central themes rely on the battle between wanting to inhabit emotions and the impact of emotional erasure. This is played out in the battle between the scientist who wants to "save" his daughter by destroying other fathers daughters and the need to see people as more than just the ends. Within "science" a discipline that prides itself upon emotional erasure, the ends justifies his means. "Father" wants to control nature.
This is the dominant theme throughout the film. It was his will to power that destroyed his daughter as his eratic driving drove her to an initial destruction. Then he states he wants to rebuild her. Meanwhile he has his loyal servant, a procuress, who entices young women into his dungeon where he incises their faces and transplants them onto his daughter.
A procedure now finally perfected in the 21stC, this film explores the ethics of undertaking this, as the scientist is not the hero, but like Frankenstein he is the mad man; the serial killer aiming for the greater good based upon himself. Everyone is a pawn in his will to power, this raises a number of issues around sacrifice for the greater social interest. Realistically, only the dead can offer their skin, and as the film points out, they have to be freshly deceased, otherwise, necrotisis destroys the skin. In the film the women surrender their faces, whilst still alive, and this elicits the horror.
The camera work is also another star, along with the acting, the film underplays the horror, and the seeming fultiity of the venture. Freedom becomes the motto, freedom from control. Meanwhile in the 21st century face transplants are becoming a norm. This film shows where the corpses have laid.