A Page of Madness

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A Page of Madness
The poster features a Japanese style happy-face mask. The title appears at bottom.
Film poster
Japanese 狂った一頁
Hepburn Kurutta Ichipeij
Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa
Written by
Starring
Release date
  • 24 September 1926 (1926-09-24)
  • 1973 (1973) (Re-released)
Running time
60 minutes
Country Japan

A Page of Madness 狂った一頁 (Kurutta Ippēji or Kurutta Ichipeiji) is a 1926 Japanese silent horror film directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa. It was lost for forty-five years until being rediscovered by Kinugasa in his storehouse in 1971.[1][2]:42 The film is the product of an avant-garde group of artists in Japan known as the Shinkankakuha (or School of New Perceptions) who tried to overcome naturalistic representation.[2]:12[3] [4]:59

Yasunari Kawabata, who would win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, was credited on the film with the original story. He is often cited as the film's screenwriter, and a version of the scenario is printed in his complete works, but the scenario is now considered a collaboration between Kawabata, Kinugasa, Banko Sawada, and Minoru Inuzuka.[2]:26–33 Eiji Tsuburaya is credited as an assistant cameraman.

Plot[edit]

Eiko Minami in A Page of Madness.

The film takes place in an asylum, in the countryside. Amid a torrential rainstorm, a janitor wanders through the halls revealing the various patients suffering from mental illness. The next day, a young woman arrives at the asylum and is surprised to see her father, the janitor, working there. Her mother is an inmate in the asylum, and she had gone insane due to the cruelty of her husband when he was a sailor. The janitor, feeling guilty, had taken a job at the asylum to take care of her. The daughter announces that she is about to get married to a fine young man, but the janitor begins to worry, since society at the time still maintained the prejudiced view that mental illness is inherited. If the young man's family learns about the mother, the marriage might be called off.

At work, his relationship with his wife, which is not known to the asylum, interferes with his job, as he gets into a fight with some male inmates when his wife is hit, and is sternly scolded by the head doctor. All this sparks the janitor to experience a number of fantasies, as he slowly loses control of the border between dreams and reality. He first has a daydream about winning a chest of drawers at a lottery that he could give to his daughter as part of her dowry. When his daughter comes to tell him her marriage is in trouble, he thinks about taking his wife away from the asylum so as to hide her existence. Finally, he fantasizes about killing the head doctor, but that reverie goes out of hand as a bearded inmate is seen marrying his daughter. The janitor finally dreams of distributing masks to the inmates, providing them at last with happy faces. He returns to work mopping the floors, no longer able to visit his wife's ward because he had lost the keys. He sees the bearded inmate pass by, who bows to him for the first time, as if bowing to his father in law.

Cast[edit]

  • Masao Inoue as the custodian
  • Ayako Iijima as the custodian's daughter
  • Yoshie Nakagawa as the custodian's wife
  • Hiroshi Nemoto as the fiancé
  • Misao Seki as the chief doctor
  • Minoru Takase as patient A
  • Eiko Minami as the dancer
  • Kyosuke Takamatsu as patient B, the bearded inmate
  • Tetsu Tsuboi as patient C
  • Shintarō Takiguchi as the gateman's son

Production[edit]

The film does not contain intertitles, making it difficult to follow. The print existing today is missing nearly a third of what was shown in theaters in 1926. Showings in 1920s Japan would have included live narration by a storyteller or benshi (弁士) as well as musical accompaniment. The famous benshi Musei Tokugawa narrated the film at the Musashinokan theater in Shinjuku in Tokyo.[2]:45

Reception[edit]

Rediscovery[edit]

Later reception of the film, after its rediscovery, has been mostly positive. Dennis Schwartz from Ozus' World Movie Reviews awarded the film a grade A, calling it "a vibrant and unsettling work of great emotional power".[5] Time Out Magazine, praised the film, writing, "A Page of Madness remains one of the most radical and challenging Japanese movies ever seen here"[6] Panos Kotzathanasis from Asian Movie Pulse.com called it "a masterpiece", praising the film's acting, music, and imagery.[7] Jonathan Crow from Allmovie praised the film's "eerie, painted sets", lighting, and editing, calling it "a striking exploration of the nature of madness".[8] Nottingham Culture's BBC preview of the film called it, "a balletic musing on our subconscious nightmares, examining dream states in a way that is both beautiful and highly disturbing."[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sharp, Jasper (2002-03-07). "A Page of Madness". www.midnighteye.com. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gerow, Aaron (2008). A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan. Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan. ISBN 978-1-929280-51-3. 
  3. ^ Gardner, William O. (Spring 2004). "New Perceptions: Kinugasa Teinosuke's Films and Japanese Modernism". Cinema Journal. 43 (3): 59–78. doi:10.1353/cj.2004.0017. 
  4. ^ Lewinsky, Mariann (1997). Eine Verrückte Seite: Stummfilm und filmische Avantgarde in Japan. Chronos. ISBN 3-905312-28-X. 
  5. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. "kurutta". Sover.net. Dennis Schwartz. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  6. ^ "A Page of Madness, directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa". Time Out.com. TR. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  7. ^ Kotzathanasis, Panos. "Film Review: A Page of Madness (1926) by Teinosuke Kinugasa By Panos Kotzathanasis". Asian Movie Pulse.com. Panos Kotzathanasis. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  8. ^ Crow, Johnathan. "A Page of Madness (1926) - Teinosuke Kinugasa". Allmovie.com. Johnathan Crow. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  9. ^ "BBC - Nottingham Culture - NOW Festival : A Page Of Madness". BBC.com. Nottingham Culture. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 

External links[edit]