Profondo rosso

  • Directors: Dario Argento
  • Producers: Salvatore Argento
  • Writers: Dario Argento, Bernardino Zapponi
  • Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni, Giuliana Calandra, Glauco Mauri, Clara Calamai, Piero Mazzinghi

Profondo Rosso follows music teacher Marcus Daly (Hemmings) as he investigates the violent murder of psychic medium Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril), which he witnesses in an apartment building. Other key characters are introduced early, including Daly’s occasional friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia), Ulmann’s associate Dr. Giordani (Glauco Mauri) and reporter Gianna Brezzi, with whom Daly begins an affair. Brezzi’s character is played by Daria Nicolodi, who would later become Argento’s partner and the mother of his daughter Asia.

In his failed attempt at rescuing the medium, Daly realises he could have seen the killer’s face among a group of portraits on the wall of the victim’s apartment but is unable to find or recognise it when the police arrive. Later in the film, he also initially overlooks another clue that leads him to discover a mouldering corpse walled up in a derelict house. In typical Argento fashion, one murder leads to a string of others as Daly’s obsession with this vital clue that he fails to understand puts his life and those of everyone he comes into contact with in danger. This inability of a character to interpret or comprehend what he has seen is a common theme in Argento’s films and was used repeatedly in Tenebrae.

Profondo Rosso is laden with minor details that presage later events. The bathtub murder is foreshadowed by an earlier scene when Daly is lightly scalded by an espresso machine; similarly, Daly explains to Gianni that his psychiatrist once explained that his piano playing is symbolic of him bashing his father’s teeth in, and later in the film Giordani suffers exactly that fate. A child’s doll hanging from a noose and a brief cut to a dog fight (with one dog biting the other by the neck, the other carrying a strange, ghastly gaze) foretell Martha’s aforementioned demise at the end of the film, when the heavy neckchain she is wearing becomes entangled in the bars of an elevator that then ascends, lifting her into the air until she is decapitated. The film also marks the introduction of many of Argento’s key hallmarks: discordant soundtracks, odd angles, rolling cameras and various lighting techniques.

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