The Face of Another [DVD] 
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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.
Alongside Franju's Les Yeux sans visage, Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Whale's Frankenstein, 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
I previously posted a review under another account where suggested the subtitles in this film were not ideal, and reading it again recently I realised it was myself who had made a clumsy use of language and overstated it, probably given the wrong impression that the correctness of the English poor (like some bootleg productions). Recently saw again the first half our or so and this confirmed my fears (LoveFilm rental - must have been tired that night or something!)
In fact in most cases the subtitle sentence construction is completely normal/correct (and I can now understand a bit of Japanese). The point I was trying to make (badly!) about my original viewing of the film was the impression that some points, especially in the latter half of the film, where the 'action' started to get most 'complexly psychological/surreal', there were some subtitles that were either quite 'atypical/unusual' sentences in themselves and/or ambiguous and could be interpreted with a variety of meanings, each interpretation leading to a quite different understanding of what taking place, what 'realworld' and what fantasy/delusion etc (Possibly a problem akin to translating difficult foreign philosophy texts such as Hegel !) So I wondered whether, assuming that the authors/filmakers actually intended to 'steer' the majority of the audience on a definite course (or at least a most or less confined channel) of interpretation of what going on, was this being achieved in a similar fashion for the subtitle reading audience as opposed to the dialogue listening audience.
The picture on this DVD is very good. And the commentary track with Tony Rayns is really excellent!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The actor Tatsuya Nakadai has given some brilliant, compelling performances (Kagemusha, Seppuku). Not in this film though. Read morePublished on 19 Sept. 2005