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The Face of Another [DVD] [1966]

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Tatsuya Nakadai, Mikijirô Hira, Kyôko Kishida
  • Directors: Hiroshi Teshigahara
  • Format: PAL, Full Screen, Mono, Black & White, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Eureka
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Mar. 2005
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006ZLD5K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,032 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

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An excellent recent birthday present and I was surprised to read the other negative reviews here. The whole brilliance of this story lies in the fact that there is never anything sympathetic about the main character. Disfigured to the point of prefering to wear banadages for the rest of his life, we never encounter him before what is only adumbrated as an horrific industrial accident. It is neatly suggested that it is his mistake in fitting a gas mask that contrains him to wear other masks for the rest of his life. At another level, however, it is simply about establishing the backdrop for the story - a kind of dual interpretative level the film continues to offer up throughout without being heavy handed. Indeed, it is entirely likely that he was already an inveterate neurotic and narcissist, but that is part of the ambiguous mix of possible scenarios, emotions, psychonalysis and philosophy this film throws at the audience without fully confirming any particular take. And in any case Nakadai remains utterly compelling throughout. A scene where he does a little dance in front of a hotel mirror is so subtley conceived and impishly daemonic as to be my favourite moment. Moreover, the monotone voice one reviewer mentioned has a clear motivation in his character and is discussed in the film. It would be easy to dismiss some of the montage and lighting techniques as dated, but in my view they would have looked distincly odd at the time anyway. Playing with conventions from still photopgraphy, Pop Art, surrealism and non-naturalistic theatre is all part of the fun here. Throw in a dash of budget Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, some Zen-esque musings and you have an engaging film. A parallel story cuts in every so often as a counterpoint and the whole leaves you with that feeling of "I'm not quite sure what it meant, but it was good" which Teshigahara was propobably aiming for. Finally, a word on the music - well worth a second watch and a second listen.
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Format: DVD
I'll eventually revise this review when I get the chance to re-see the film in full - presently just to redress one issue.

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.
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"The Face of Another" is a chillling movie about a man who, after an accident, get an artificial face. The story is, of course, about identity, the connection between the face and the personality. At the same time this is a visually complex film. Interspersed through the story are episodes of a film the protagonist has seen, about a young woman with a deformed face. Also, the milieus are quite odd, from the strangely designed and disturbing laboratory of the psychiatrist/scientist who creates the face, to the german beer hall.

The picture on this DVD is very good. And the commentary track with Tony Rayns is really excellent!
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