Reviewed at Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., Aug. 2, 1993. Running time:80 MIN.
“The Mystery of the Scarlet Eyes” is a charming compilation film that chronicles the first half of the 20th century through the eyes of a Venezuelan entrepreneur. With an English-dubbed voiceover, pic could be a natural for cultural or cable small-screen fare.
Entrepreneur Edgar J. Anzola seemed to be fascinated with modern technology. Whenever anything happened anywhere in Venezuela, he was on the spot. He was an avid photographer, a pioneer in newsreels, fiction filmmaker, radio and records. When the first automobiles were exported to Venezuela, he bought one and toured the country, documenting his trip with thousands of photos.
When Edgar died, his immense archive ended up in the hands of his son Alfredo J. Anzola, who has compiled this rich visual and audio material, counterpointing it with a voiceover commentary culled from his father’s many diaries and letters. (Pic’s title comes from one of Anzola’s radio plays that is recreated in the studio.)
Result is a fascinating chronicle that captures the innocence and excitement of a country moving into the technological century, recounted with infectious charm and exhilaration.