The Face of Another (film)
|The Face of Another|
|Hepburn||Tanin no kao|
|Directed by||Hiroshi Teshigahara|
|Screenplay by||Kōbō Abe|
|Based on||Tanin no kao|
by Kōbō Abe
|Produced by||Hiroshi Teshigahara|
|Edited by||Fusako Shuzui|
|Music by||Toru Takemitsu|
The Face of Another (Japanese: 他人の顔, Hepburn: Tanin no Kao) is a 1966 Japanese New Wave film directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara and based on the 1964 novel of the same name written by Kōbō Abe. The story follows engineer Okuyama, who suffered severe facial burns in a work-related accident and is given a new face in the form of a lifelike mask.
Engineer Okuyama's face was disfigured by an explosion in an industrial accident, and wears bandages to cover the burns. Feeling isolated and being physically rejected by his wife, he consults Dr. Hira, a psychiatrist who is able to fashion a mask for Okuyama to wear, which is indistinguishable from the face on which it is modeled.
Hira and Okuyama pay a man 10,000 yen to serve as the model for the mask, and the mask is built and fitted onto Okuyama. Hira demands that Okuyama regularly reports his sensations and thoughts to him, and cautions Okuyama that the mask may change his behavior and personality so much that he will cease to be the same person that he was. Okuyama tells no one that he has received the mask, and simply lives as a new man, telling his wife that he is traveling on business while he rents an apartment nearby. He tests the mask's effectiveness on a secretary of his company, who doesn't recognise him, and a mentally retarded neighbourhood girl, who does. During a meeting between Hira and Okuyama, the psychiatrist realises that his patient has already changed, and imagines a world where the mask goes into mass production, subsequently eliminating all sense of morality.
Okuyama decides to seduce his wife using his new identity. When he obtains this too easily, full of rage, he reveals himself to her, who in turn says she had known about his true identity from the first moment. He tries to persuade her to give their relation another chance, but she rejects. Later, Okuyama attempts to rape a woman on the street, claiming to be nobody when arrested. He is freed thanks to Hira whose business card the police found in Okuyama's pocket, testifying that Okuyama is his patient and that he is not violent. While walking the nightly streets together, Hira sees his prophecy become reality with everyone around him wearing a mask. At first he asks Okuyama for the mask back, then lets him keep it as he is a free man. While shaking hands to say goodbye, Okuyama stabs him.
Interleaved throughout the film is a separate tale (present in Abe's original novel in the form of a movie the protagonist watches at a cinema and then recounts) of a young woman whose otherwise beautiful face suffered a severe disfigurement on the right cheek and right side of the neck. She works in a psychiatric ward, whose inmates include many World War II veterans, and lives with her brother. The imagery of these sequences, her repeated worry about the coming of another war, and her asking her brother if he still remembers the sea at Nagasaki (presumably from their childhood there), all suggest that her scars came as a result of the atomic bombing of that city. Like Okuyama, she feels isolated because of her disfigurement.
- Tatsuya Nakadai as Mr. Okuyama
- Machiko Kyō as Mrs. Okuyama
- Mikijirō Hira as Dr. Hira
- Kyōko Kishida as Nurse
- Eiji Okada as The Boss
- Minoru Chiaki as Apartment Superintendent
- Hideo Kanze as Male Patient
- Kunie Tanaka as Patient at Mental Hospital
- Etsuko Ichihara as Yo-Yo Girl
- Bibari Maeda as Singer in Bar
- Miki Irie as Girl with Scar
- Eiko Muramatsu as Secretary
- Yoshie Minami as Old Lady
- Hisashi Igawa as Man with Mole
- Kakuya Saeki as Elder Brother of Girl with Scar
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The film uses several doublings of shots, both by repeating shots verbatim and by placing the main character in nearly identical shots twice. The most obvious example is in Okuyama's two separate rentals of apartments, once masked, and once with his new face. These doublings highlight Okuyama's double existence.
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Hira's office, a strange blank space with glass partitions, was designed by architect Arata Isozaki, a friend of Teshigahara's. The glass walls are painted with Langer's lines and the Vitruvian Man.
In the United States, the film received a theatrical release on June 9, 1967. It was re-issued in the US in May 1975 by Rising Sun and Toho.
The Face of Another was not well received upon its initial release, with audiences and critics largely feeling that it did not live up to Teshigahara's earlier film The Woman in the Dunes. Although it was successful in Japan, the film was a critical and financial failure internationally.
Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote in 1974, "As fiction it's too fanciful to be seriously compelling and too glib to be especially thought-provoking." Still in 2008, film scholar Alexander Jacoby called it "a flawed fantasy" whose interesting theme suffers from the protagonist's "bland characterization". Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader defended the film in his 2005 review, calling it "more palatable" than Teshigahara's previous works, the theme "brilliantly and imaginatively explored", and the acting "potent".
- Galbraith IV, Stuart (2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. pp. 231–232. ISBN 978-1461673743.
- "他人の顔 (The Face of Another)" (in Japanese). Kinenote. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
- "他人の顔 (The Face of Another)" (in Japanese). kotobank. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
- James Quandt (2007). Video essay included on Three Films by Hiroshi Teshigahara DVD Box (DVD). Criterion Collection.
- Canby, Vincent (8 May 1974). "The Screen:'Face of Another' Joins Japanese Festival - The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
- Jacoby, Alexander (2008). Critical Handbook of Japanese Film Directors: From the Silent Era to the Present Day. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press. p. 312. ISBN 978-1-933330-53-2.
- Rosenbaum, Jonathan (2005). "The Face of Another". The Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
- The Face of Another at IMDb
- The Face of Another at AllMovie
- The Face of Another at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Face of Another at the Japanese Movie Database (in Japanese)
- Quandt, James (9 July 2007). "The Face of Another: Double Vision". Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
- "Tanin no kao, 1966". Strictly Film School. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2021.