L’Uccello Dalle Plume de Cristalio (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) (Dario Argento, 1969)
[originally posted 10Apr2000]
Dario Argento’s career can be mapped with two films: Suspiria (1977), a benchmark for all supernatural horror films, and Profondo Rosso (1975), a benchmark for modern mystery. Argento has made many more films in his time, of course, but those are the two standouts, and it often seems as if the other films he’s made all tie back to those two.
I’ve never gotten that feeling as much as I did with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, one of Argento’s first releases. This one goes into the straight-mystery genre, and many elements of Profondo Rosso can be found here, even down to similar scenery. The plot, also, is a familiar one—a serial killer stalking the streets of Italy and an American citizen staying in Italy who gets himself involved in the investigation. It seems almost as if Argento were cutting his teeth here, preparing himself and getting his symbolism in line for the real work; as such, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is for Argento fans only; others would be much better served finding a copy of Profondo Rosso. ** ½