Gialloween Day 12: What Have You Done to Solange?
A teacher and student meet for a tryst on the river. Across the bank, the student witnesses the murder of another girl. Soon, more of his students end up dead and the teacher begins to look for connections. A mention of another girl, Solange, may shed the light needed to uncover the truth behind the killings.
What Have You Done to Solange? is an anomaly within the genre. The bombastic sets are naturally toned down by placing the film in a rich, all girls catholic school. Visual spectacle is still present— the cinematography of the film looks fantastic but only spends a little of film showcasing groovy furniture and colorful sets.
Despite a lack of visuals in fashion and architecture, tons of eye candy in female form is prevalent. The cast looks more like 23-year-old models than the teenagers they are supposed to playing. Hell, there is even the token all girl’s shower scene to provide extra titillation. As the film plays out, it gives me pleasure to say that these two factors take a back seat to the tightly crafted plot Solange provides.
The plot’s controlled pacing allows the film to breathe. An increasing weight is given to each clue and each victim is given thought for somber reflection. The film does a wonderful job of building organic intrigue in both its characters and audience. The titular character isn’t even mentioned until the latter half of the story and it totally feels natural. This all leads to an astonishingly chilling finale that leaves an impact few giallo films have matched.
The soundtrack is supplied masterfully by Ennio Morricone. Switching back and forth between anxiety inducing cacophony and a haunting theme that captures the feeling of innocence lost experienced by the victims, it goes hand in hand with the cinematography to lay the foundation needed to express the tragic mystique of the story.
What Have You Done to Solange? is a consistent favorite among fans of the genre, myself included. Unknown to those who aren’t familiar with the genre, I can see why visionary Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn has chosen this film to remake in hopes reintroducing it to a new generation. The solid story would lend itself well to a modern adaptation while leaving a great amount of room for visual experimentation. However the remake turns out to be this one is a must-see within the genre, up there with the films of Argento and Bava, even surpassing a few of them.