Japan | 124 min.
black & white
Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1966
Following Woman of the Dunes [Suna no onna] in 1964, Hiroshi Teshigahara continued his collaboration with avant-garde novelist/playwright Kobo Abe and experimental composer Toru Takemitsu for The Face of Another [Tanin no kao]. Starring Tatsuya Nakadai (Yojimbo, Kagemusha) as a man “buried alive behind eyes without a face”, the film addresses the illusive nature of identity and the agony of its absence.
A man (Nakadai) facially disfigured in a laboratory fire persuades his doctor to fashion him a lifelike mask modeled on a complete stranger — totally different from his own face. Shortly after the mask is made, he successfully seduces his own wife (Machiko Kyo) but becomes angry at her falling for a handsome stranger. Worrying about his looks, and the way the mask seems to influence his identity, he begins to question everything.
Takemitsu’s musical score is one of his best, contrasting sweet, sad melodies with eerie, experimental motifs. Alongside Franju’s Les Yeux sans visage [Eyes Without a Face], Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Whale’s Frankenstein, and Freund’s Mad Love, Teshigahara and Abe’s The Face of Another stands proud as one of cinema’s most haunting explorations of identity. The Masters of Cinema Series proudly presents the film for the first time in the West on home video.
by David Toop, 2005