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The Stendhal Syndrome


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The Stendhal Syndrome, directed by italian Dario Argento, tells the story of a woman detective who follows a serial killer. Detective Anna Manni has stendhal syndrome. Even more, the serial killer she pursues is aware of her syndrome and uses her illness for his own advantage.

Dario Argento, the director of the film, was affected by this syndrome during his childhood. When he visited Parthenon in Athens with his parents, he was overwhelmed by a trance that caused him to lose his parents for hours. It was such a deep influence on the director that he has never forgotten it and consequently, motivated him to produce this film.

The origin for the name of syndrome comes from the french writer Stendhal. During his Florence dairies, he too was affected by the aesthetic beauty of historical Italy and he has written his experiences on his dairies, as such it was the first written example of this syndrome, hence the name of syndrome was derived from him.

The first part of the film describes this syndrome using effective cinematography and interesting visualization. The sequence where Anna Manni reaches the cathartic moment and faints while transitioning into the painting is really worth paying attention. The usage of ‘frame’ subject and the issue between identity and image have been worked on very smoothly. The part I shared above also makes a nice introduction of characters as we’ll testify the change among them.

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