masters of cinema
A Man Vanishes [Ningen jōhatsu]

A Man Vanishes [Ningen jōhatsu]

Shôhei Imamura ,

Film Summary






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Black & White


E (exempt)


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World Cinema

It is difficult to summarise Shōhei Imamura’s legendary 1967 film, the first picture produced by Japan’s countercultural Art Theatre Guild (ATG). Is it a documentary that turns into a fiction? A narrative film from beginning to end? A record of improvisation populated with actors or non-actors (and in what proportion)? Is it the investigation into a true disappearance, or a work merely inspired by actual events? Even at the conclusion of its final movement, A Man Vanishes [Ningen jōhatsu, or The Unexplained Disappearance of a Human Being] mirrors its subject in deflecting inquiries into the precise nature of its own being.

A middle-class salaryman has gone missing — possibly of his own accord — and a film crew has set out to assemble a record of the man and the events surrounding his disappearance. As the crew meticulously builds a cachet of interviews with the man’s family and lovers, their subject and his motivations become progressively more elusive — until the impossibility of the endeavour seems to transform the very film itself. 

Long unavailable anywhere on home video, Imamura’s A Man Vanishes remains a unique and crucial entry in a provocative filmmaker’s body of work, daring as it does to ask the big questions: what is reality, and what is a man? The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present A Man Vanishes for the first time on DVD in the UK, in an impressive new restoration.

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Available as collection

Only available as part of the
The Shôhei Imamura Masterpiece Collection

  • New high-definition restoration of the film
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Original theatrical trailer for the film
  • Exclusive new 18-minute video interview with scholar Tony Rayns
  • 9-minute video interview with Imamura conducted by his son, filmmaker Daisuke Tengan
  • 36-page booklet featuring writing by Imamura in 2004; remarks from 1975 by filmmaker Kirirô Urayama; Japanese magazine clippings from 1967 pertaining to the phenomenon of “jôhatsu”; a critique of the film by Nagisa Ôshima; and rare archival stills.


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