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falderal : a moving images blog

Archive for April, 2009

Great news!

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

This article brought me one of the best news ever in a long time!
For those who are into old films, read the article and then browse the Warner Archive. I am shocked that WB decided to do this because I thought that most people did not care about old films, but I guess the demand was higher than I thought.

Check it out because there are so many titles that I never heard of and many that I have wanted to watch.

Den sorte drøm (The Black Dream) ; 1911

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Director: Urban Gad
Actors: Asta Nielsen, Valdemar Psilander, Gunnar Helsengreen
Country: Denmark

Another long-winded Steph post. If you can stand it, feel free to read it. You can skip on to the “Thoughts/Analysis” section if you don’t want much of the film to be spoiled.

Synopsis
Asta Nielsen plays a circus performer, Stella, who has two admirers: Waldberg (Valdemar Psilander) and Hirsch (Gunnar Helsengreen). Stella at first does not care about her admirers and probably just sees them as fans. When Waldberg follows her and he walks her to her apartment, Stella leaves him at the door. She realizes that she does like Waldberg and their romance starts when she lets him into her house. Hirsch is a wealthy jeweler who wants Stella for himself and in the beginning, she has no opinion about him and even eats at his table at a dinner party. Hirsch finds out about her relationship with Waldberg and tries to rape her (or so it seems) but Waldberg comes to save Stella. Hirsch challenges Waldberg to a cards duel and Stella tells Waldberg to not play. Nonetheless Waldberg plays cards and loses all his money and owes Hirsch a large sum. Waldberg becomes depressed and decides to commit suicide but Stella intervenes when she finds out that he has a gun and takes it away from him. Hirsch promises Stella jewelry and she uses this as a way to help Waldberg. She tells Waldberg that she has an expensive necklace that he could pawn and she goes off to meet Hirsch to get the necklace. Stella understands the implications of receiving Hirsch’s gift and instead of choosing an item, she steals a pearl necklace while Hirsch is looking away. But what Stella doesn’t know is that Hirsch sees her actions from a mirror. Hirsch lets Stella leave with the necklace but later confronts her after she gave the necklace to Waldberg and makes her promise to meet him at 12. Stella and Waldberg are later together in her dress room and Stella doesn’t tell Waldberg where she is going. When she leaves, he has a jealous fit and gets the gun Stella took from him. When he opens her purse, he sees the note about the 12:00 meeting and in a jealous rage, he goes to Hirsch’s house. Stella is obviously disgusted with Hirsch and tries to pull away from his advances. Right when Hirsch pushes Stella onto a couch and gets on top of her, Waldberg enters. After a small skirmish, Stella comes between them to make them stop and Waldberg shoots her. While dying, Stella gives him a note that explains why she is there and Waldberg regrets his actions. Stella dies in his arms after they kiss.

Thoughts/Analysis
I did not expect much from this film because the other two Nielsen films were somewhat of a disappointment, but I actually enjoyed this film!
Maaike commented on one of my previous entries about Nielsen’s films and she brought up a great point.

Also something which I think might explain the… badness of those films, basically, is that not only did Asta’s films not really need to be good since they sold on star power alone, but also in the early 1910s it was rare for directors to really see their medium as an art form or to have any ambition in that direction. Obviously there were exceptions, but most directors considered it a job really, like I presume writers of crappy romance novels also don’t care about the quality of the entertainment they churn out.

It was an entertaining melodrama to watch and although it’s Despite being a film purely for entertainment, there were some moments when I thought Gad did something interesting. One is when he frames the scenes with curtains and I thought that it brought a voyeuristic feel to the scene and made the audience aware of where the camera was placed. Also, the use of the mirror to show what was truly happening was a great plot device and I wish that there was a motif in the film with mirrors, but there isn’t. I felt like this film had so much potential especially when I saw the curtain scene, but Gad has failed me. But then again, is it really necessary to create a film that is loaded with meaning and symbolism when the film was created for entertainment (hypothetically)? I wish I knew more about Gad because at the moment, I’m just getting this feeling that he made films for entertainment. Look at what film classes have done to me! I feel empty when there isn’t something to analyze and pick apart. There are probably many things to analyze, but I’m simply too lazy for that. I’m not into theorizing much either, so how about we all just leave this film as a melodrama and that’s that?
The acting in this film was incredibly naturalistic on every actor’s part. The only time they hammed it up was when it was necessary to show some action, such as a fight. The acting was so naturalistic that it just seemed like I was people watching, but when it came to facial expressions to portray emotions, Nielsen gets the prize. I was amazed at how much she could express just with her face (particularly her eyes) during the scene when she is at the jewel store and in her dying scene.
While watching this film, I made a small observation: indoor shots are most likely a set while all outdoor shots (except maybe the circus) are shot somewhere in Denmark. I think that Danish directors used their surroundings as much as they could and I really liked seeing the outdoors and what Denmark looked like back then. If all the outdoor shots are actually sets themselves, then I’m impressed! While the indoor shots clearly look like sets, none of the outdoor shots do, which leads me to think that they aren’t.
And of course, there is the obligatory “SLUT” intertitle at the end. I thought that there wasn’t going to be one, but right before I pressed my eject button, “SLUT” came on the screen. It really didn’t help that the term “slut” sort of did fit. Well, not really, but Stella was sacrificing herself for her lover.

I recommend this film for people who can stand melodramas, like Asta Nielsen, or have time on their hands. Other than that, I don’t think this film is anything spectacular or that you’ll be missing out on something if you don’t watch this. Although I have not watched Mod lyset yet, out of the three Danish silents I have watched so far with Nielsen, this one is the best.something that I would probably not think about much in the future.

IMDb Link: Den sorte drøm
Where to buy: Danish Film Institute Net Shop, Edition Filmmuseum

Lover Come Back ; 1961

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Director: Delbert Mann
Actors: Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall, Jack Oakie
Country: U.S.A.

Lover Come Back was a delightful movie to watch and I enjoyed every single minute of it. I have watched a few Doris Day films in the past (at the top of my head I can name Please Don’t Eat the Daisies and The Glass Bottom Boat to name a few) but I have never watched a Day/Hudson film although I do own Pillow Talk. This film reminded me of another film called Down With Love with Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor and I know that the film was inspired by Day/Hudson films and my, my, Down With Love did a fabulous job with that. I should write an entry for that film as well!

Anyway, this film is full of situations that lead to misunderstandings, competition, and problems what make it so enjoyable. Not only that, Doris Day and Rock Hudson looked amazing as a couple and their acting complemented each other. I sighed happily when they were both in a scene together and couldn’t help but think how adorable they were. Day plays her wholesome character to perfection and the way she acts in the scene when she is pouring champagne (oh you’ll know when you watch it!) was played to perfection. The music, her actions, her face expression just fit so well. Hudson is charming as a deceitful worker of an advertising agency and you cannot help but fall for his charms. I can see why Hudson was loved by everyone and he definitely was handsome. My mom always calls Hudson “The Good Looking Man” because she can never remember his name. I never found Cary Grant to be attractive, but Hudson is like a sexier version of Grant! I don’t know why, but something about Hudson’s looks made me think of Grant.
I really don’t want to give away much of the plot, but I beg you to watch this film. It’s a breath of fresh air after watching recent romantic comedies and even screwballs from the 1930s and 1940s and the innuendos are to die for. One of my favourite scenes full of innuendos is when Rebel (Edie Adams) shows off the “Good Conduct Medal”; I had to pause the film because I laughed so much. When something shocked me and I thought, “HOW DID THIS GET PASSED THE CENSORS?!” (I wonder that a lot I noticed), it was answered right away by the following action or scene. Day’s face expressions are priceless as well and I couldn’t help but love her in every scene.

I’m pretty sure that you probably know my picture set-up for posts. I usually use a screencap I took of a scene that epitomizes the film (or one that I simply like!) for the first one, then use other stills to use as references throughout the post. Well, this time, the screencap I used for the first one was my favourite scene and I think the scene did embody what this film was like. It was a scene of when Carol (Doris Day) takes “Dr. Tyler” (Rock Hudson) to a burlesque show and the conversation that goes on during the show and afterwards is great, but what made the scene even better is Day’s face expressions. It’s worth a watch, I promise!

Underneath all the hilarity and cuteness of this film, I really liked what it had to say about the advertising agency and how it shapes people’s perception of the world. It also showed how honest work sometimes isn’t enough to get the job done and that a little something-something is necessary or at least helpful.

And of course, an entry cannot do without any superficial anecdotes. First of all, there is Day’s hair which is absolutely gorgeous. It makes her look both classy yet also gives her a casual air. I wish I could style my hair like that every day… In every scene she has such perfect hair, well, except that one scene towards the end, but she always looks poised with her perfect coiffure. And then of course, Day’s hats in this film were outrageous. I wonder where she even got them because they were so peculiar that they were charming in their own way. They were on the borderline of hideous, weird, and I don’t know, but Day makes them look like they aren’t anything special. Hm, also, can I say that the shade of lipstick Day wore is glorious? I love it.

The only thing I was a bit ambivalent about is the ending. At first, I thought, “Oh well that’s what happens!” but then I thought about it and it seemed unfair for Day’s character. The ending seemed rushed and a bit tacked on, but at the same time it went by so quickly that I barely thought about it. Watch it and judge for yourself!

IMDb Link: Lover Come Back
Where to buy: Amazon.com

The Play House ; 1921

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Director: Buster Keaton
Actors: Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline, Virginia Fox, Joe Roberts
Country: U.S.A.

This short was my first exposure to Buster Keaton and I was quite disappointed the first time I watched it. I was disappointed because I didn’t find it to be that funny, but I was impressed by the cinematography and Keaton’s acting. It was 5:00am or so and I was barely awake and was incredibly cranky when I watched it. Today I gave it another go and this time, I enjoyed it. I can’t say that it’s my favourite short film, but this time I picked up on things I didn’t when I watched it the first time around. It’s a charming short that will leave the viewer feeling happy or content with a smile on their face.

The film’s cinematographic techniques is what instantly caught my attention. I thought I was seeing things at first, but then I realized that Keaton was playing all the characters in the first quarter or so of the film. I’m not going to spoil the film for you, but it was just amazing how Keaton shot the beginning of this film. I take pictures using film and use the darkroom to print, but I couldn’t figure out how Keaton did the special effects to create multiple Buster Keatons! After doing some research, I found out that Keaton used multiple exposures and would cover a part of the film and record himself and then would cover another part of the film and record himself while covering the other part of the film that has been exposed, and on and on. I remembered that one of my fellow classmates in photography class did the same thing to show two different pictures on the same sheet of photographic paper thus it all made sense and I understood how Keaton did it immediately. All the critics and film buffs talk about the beginning scene and I think that it deserves being discussed as well. It was what caught my attention with this short and Keaton’s acting made it all work perfectly. He interacts with his other selves that makeshttp://films.raison-detre.org/wp-admin/post-new.php it look as if he really is talking to the other Buster Keatons and the timing is perfect, which helps perpetuate the “illusion”. I also read that he used a metronome to make sure that everything was timed perfectly. Now this leads me to discussing Keaton’s acting, which was superb! (I can’t believe I just typed “superb”. It’s a word I associate with my professors.) The entire beginning sequence deserves to be watched for the cinematic techniques Keaton used and for all its humourous scenes.

Keaton’s performance as his various selves was great and seeing him dressed like a woman was adorable as well. Ah, the young Buster Keaton sure was handsome *happy sigh*. Anyway, outside of the beginning scene, Keaton’s performance as the monkey is quite memorable. The way his posture changes, his walk, face expressions, and his motions are exactly like a monkey/chimpanzee. It shocked me how realistic his portrayal was and if I didn’t know it was Keaton, I would have thought it’s a real animal.

There were some surreal moments in this film starting from the beginning to the scene that follows right after it, the scene with the mirror and the twins, and when Keaton jumps into a painted background and disappears seamlessly behind it (you find out right afterwards how he did it). They were a nice touch to the film and added a quirky effect to the overall short.

I am looking forward to watching more of Keaton’s works, especially The General, and would definitely want to watch more of his shorts. It amused me that two of the famous silent comedians were 5’5 (Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton). Thank goodness Harold Lloyd was 5 inches taller than his contemporaries because if he was short, I would wonder what it is with short men and making amazing films. Well, not that height matters, but it’s quite amusing to see these actors all small compared to their co-workers.

Since it is a short in public domain, you can watch it for free (and even download it, it seems) here. There doesn’t seem to be any music with it though.

IMDb Link: The Play House
Where to buy: I bolded the cheapest price at the time I wrote this entry: Kino Video (The General DVD), Kino Video (The Art of Buster Keaton Box Set), Amazon.com (The General DVD), Amazon.com (The Art of Buster Keaton Box Set)

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek ; 1944

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Director: Preston Sturges
Actors: Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, Diana Lynn, William Demarest
Country: U.S.A.

Surprise, surprise, another post on a Preston Sturges film! I admit that I didn’t find it to be that great the first time I watched it, but the second time around, I caught a lot of the subtleties, which I appreciated, such as the sign about the lemonade and what Mr. Kockenlocker (William Demarest) says about a half a dozen of kids while complaining about daughters and children in general. I absolutely loved Emmy (Diana Lynn) because she was the voice of reason throughout the film despite being only 14 years old. I thought that Demarest’s acting was great and the way he portrayed Mr. Kockenlocker made the character likable that I even started admiring Demarest. I can honestly say that Demarest steals the show in every scene he is in and that I’ve enjoyed it whenever Mr. Kockenlocker was in the scene. Also, isn’t “Kockenlocker” a great name? *winkwink*

The way Trudy is introduced was brilliant and Betty Hutton’s exaggerated mouth movements (ref. picture 2) had me in tears because it was hilarious. I didn’t find Trudy (Hutton) to be a likable character and found her to be a bit exasperating at times. I guess it’s very similar with The Palm Beach Story in that Trudy cares a lot about Norval (Bracken) thus she does what she does, but at times, I wanted to slap her in the face for being selfish.

What I noticed about Sturges’s films is that I focus on every scene. I don’t lose track of what is happening and I pay attention as if every scene/aspect is important. A lot of films have a sub-plot with the romance but with Sturges’s film, it is all mixed up and there really isn’t a sub-plot but a main story that is told through various events. For example, with His Girl Friday, I didn’t really care much about the sub-plot but with Sturges’s film, the audience focuses only on what is happening in front of them. There are no distractions and I think I like it!

I wasn’t too impressed by this film but was more shocked watching it. I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world this film even got past the Hays Code. Watch it for yourself and wonder if this film should be considered scandalous for its times! It sure made me confused and I couldn’t help but wonder what Sturges was thinking while making this film. The ending is so outrageous that I wonder if it was a tactic to distract the censors. I know that Sturges used some tactics to beat around the bush so that this film could be released, but I really don’t understand how the script passed.

If I used the 10/10 system, I would give this about a 7.5. I recommend it for Demarest’s performance and for the crazy story!

Now this entry covers 5 out of 13 Sturges films doesn’t it? Sadly there won’t be any more Sturges post from me for awhile since this was the last Sturges film that I owned and watched. I have to get going on watching other films! Oh foreign films, how have you escaped my clutches so far? Oh wait, I watch Italian films for my Italian cinema class. I wish I could post about the films I watched for my Italian cinema class but I don’t own any of the films and I would really like to rewatch them. Also, another problem I have is that I have read analyses of the films for class and I don’t want them to affect my interpretation or thoughts on the film but on the other hand, they do help because it does get my thinking juices flowing. Funny, because it was a film I watched for that class that made me start this blog.

IMDb Link: The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
Where to buy: Amazon.com

The Palm Beach Story ; 1942

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Director: Preston Sturges
Actors: Joel McCrea, Claudette Colbert, Mary Astor, Rudy Vallee, William Demarest
Country: U.S.A.

OH MY GOD! I am in such a hyper mood right now (or maybe just giddy?) but I absolutely LOVED this film. Please excuse the craziness of this post and its moments when my Valley Girl tendencies pop out because this film has made me so happy. It was charming in so many ways and everything worked perfectly. The chemistry between McCrea and Colbert was perfect, Astor was looking as beautiful as ever, and well… this film was wonderful. It put me in a happy mood and… and… I don’t know! I want everyone to watch it with me and I want to rewatch it now! I’m not sure how much men would like this film (how should I know? I’m not a man!) but maybe everyone will like it as much as I do. Or at least I hope so! The only aggravating scene was the drunk scene with the Ale and Quail Club, but drunk people can be aggravating anyway in real life thus I guess it fits perfectly. From the get-go I was already excited when the credits started and until the very end, I was into every second of it. Even Colbert as Gerry, the selfish yet self-less wife, is lovable although her motives are sort of odd to say the very least, but there is no way that anyone can say that they don’t like Gerry.

I implore you to watch this and I promise that you won’t be disappointed!

Sturges is getting a lot of attention on this blog, isn’t he? Maybe this blog will have an entry on every one of Sturges’ films; how exciting that would be! And maybe an entry on Sturges as well… ooh~ I’m getting all excited just thinking about it!

IMDb Link: The Palm Beach Story
Where to buy: Amazon.com

Sullivan’s Travels ; 1941

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Director: Preston Sturges
Actors: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest
Country: U.S.A.

As much as I liked The Lady Eve, I didn’t have any expectations for my second Sturges’ film. So what do I think about Sullivan’s Travels? Nothing much. I feel very neutral about this film and don’t see what’s so special about it and I didn’t find it to be that funny as well. It was also my first Veronica Lake film and as gorgeous as she is, her voice grated on my nerves in the beginning.

When I see this film as a comedy, I don’t like it that much since I didn’t find it to be particularly funny at times, but then again, I wouldn’t really label it as a drama. Oh whatever! Phooey with labels! This film just stands on its own for me. I’m digressing, so what I really wanted to say was that I liked many aspects of this film, but in the end, I felt indifferent. I can say I enjoyed it at times and I definitely do not think it’s a waste of time to watch it, thus I think people who haven’t watched it should give it a go if they are curious. What I liked the most was its metafilmic aspects and how the director becomes somewhat like a method actor and becomes a hobo (and fails miserably). Through the story, I thought Sturges made some great commentary on the film industry. Starting with the beginning, Sullivan (McCrea) says he wants to make a serious film, but the producers say “with a little sex in it” and Sullivan says that it won’t be the focus. Ironically, despite Veronica Lake’s sort of small role, her sex appeal had much to do with the advertising of the film. Sturges knew that “sex” was needed for films to be successful because there is another line when Sullivan says, “There’s always a girl in the picture. What’s the matter, don’t you go to the movies?” Also, Sullivan says that film should be used as a “sociological artistic medium with a little bit of sex in it”, which reflects this film. The sex bit could also be a nod towards Lubitsch films and that Sullivan’s producers want him to continue making trivial films. I also wondered if the line about that musical Sullivan made, Ants in Your Plants in 1939 and how one of his producers says that he should make another one with a different date is a reference to The Gold Diggers of [insert year] musicals. There is commentary on the poor, which I don’t want to delve into, but what I found to be particularly interesting was the take of comedies during the time period the film was set. The film was set in contemporary times, so there is World War II going on and Sullivan says, “I want this picture to be a commentary on modern conditions. Stark realism. The problems that confront the average man!” I was amused that he said this because in Germany, they already made films like this during the Weimar Republic. Not only does Sullivan’s Travels mention the escapist quality of comedies, but Sturges addresses that despite the trivial veneer of comedies, they also give us something when we have nothing: laughter.

Since I usually like to point out some weird, superficial thing that amused me, of course I have to comment on the outfit Veronica Lake wears towards the end. It cracked me up, especially when she trips over it. Those underpants are the most ridiculous things I’ve seen, and I’ve never seen ones like those outside of picture books. I also thought that it was great how Lubitsch was mentioned (I do love that man!) and in the end, Sullivan decides to make a comedy, which is what Lubitsch was known for.

And before I end this post, I have to give a little bit of loving to the pastor at the church. What he said was the most touching thing ever in that it is true what he says about not judging people and that we are all equal.

Hail The Conquering Hero ; 1944

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Posted by Maddy

Director: Preston Sturges
Actors: Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, Raymond Walburn, William Demarest
Country: U.S.A.

Out of all of the reoccurring cast members of the Preston Sturges gang its William Demarest who does it for me. The wise cracking, dopey, tough guy sidekick is personified by Demarest. Whether it is the life long body guard who knows it’s the same dame in The Lady Eve or the musician who will happily recount the events of the night W.T.F. Morton cured his tooth ache in The Great Moment Demarest is always the one who shines the brightest for me. In Hail The Conquering Hero Demarest is at his best in this comedy about a returning ‘war hero.’
Poor Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith. With a father a great war hero he had spend his entire life preparing to follow in his father’s footsteps and join to his Marines now that World War II has begun. Much to his horror he is kicked out of the Marines due to chronic hay fever. Unable to tell his mother, who he knows will be heart broken at the news, he proceeds to tell her that he’s across the sea. An act of generosity on his part, paying for a squadron of Marines lead by Demarest, ends up turning out worst for him. The Marines convince him to call home claiming he’s on sick leave and they end up convincing his mother that he is a war hero. What he and the marines hope to be a slip into to town to see his mother and to slip out quickly turns out to be the entire town welcoming this “hero” back home. Woodrow ends up getting caught up in the festivities of his own heroic deeds constantly trying to get himself out of a mess that has quickly gotten out of his control.
After the celebration Woodrow is quickly selected as a candidate for mayor. One of the highlights of the film, at least for me, was Woodrow’s first ‘political’ speech where he does everything he can, without saying that he lied to everyone, to discourage the populous from voting for him. All it does is encourage them to want him for major even more. Demarest and the rest of his Marines offer ‘support’ to Woodrow throughout the film despite the entire situation being their fault. Their support includes lying on his behalf and making sure that he has made his mother happy. Like all classic Hollywood films Woodrow’s love interest is his ex-fiance. While ‘abroad’ he tells her that he has found someone else and wants her not to wait for him. She then becomes engaged to the mayor’s son, but throughout the film she realizes her feelings for him.


A film that could easily become stereotypical Sturges once again pushes the boundaries. Woodrow is not at fault for what happened to him – he tried to enlist in the army only to be rejected. The worst thing he did was attempt to save his mother from humiliation and it is far from his doing how quickly that spun out of control. The moral issues of the film are not in Woodrow’s deceit, but the profiteering and corruption of the current major. More interested in keeping his position than the well being of the town and his country during war time he is the ‘villain’ in a time of self sacrifice and humility. The leader of this all American town is self serving no matter what has happened is a bit of the not-so-subtle commentary of Sturges.
Sturges films are known for being upbeat with a mix of slapstick and banter. Certainly a different take on the war film Hail The Conquering Hero is far from his greatest work but reveals why he stuck with his cast of characters throughout his brief career.

IMDB Link: Hail The Conquering Hero
Where To Buy: Amazon

Tanin no kao (The Face of Another) ; 1966

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Posted by Maddy

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Actors: Tatsuya Nakadai, Machiko Kyô, Mikijiro Hira, Kyôko Kishida, Eiji Okada, Miki Irie
Country: Japan

Of the various films Hiroshi Teshigahara adapted from novels by Kobo Abe, The Face of Another is his most visually recognizable. The story of a Japanese psychiatrist (Tatsuya Nakadai) who, after an accident in a factory, has his face burned off is a film ripe with ethical implications. Feeling alienated from his wife and society Okuyama seeks the help of a young doctor specializing in constructing fake limbs for amputees. Together they create a mask so realistic that it might as well be real flesh. With this new face, and new identity, Okuyama wishes to seduce his wife believing he will be able to exact his revenge upon her for when she rejected him with his previously scarred face.
Throughout the film the young doctor voices his worries – what kind of society would we have if these masks were massed produced? Anyone could have an entirely new identity and the possibility of infinite freedom is at hand. All desire could be met; all crimes could be committed without the slightest implication. Okuyama also faces the dilemma of losing his original self to the identity of the mask. He changes his style and mannerisms and gives into temptations that his previous self would not.

Okuyama is a complex character. With his face rapped in bandages he feels that the world sees him as a monster and pushes everyone away, believing they all scorn him. But does society and the people he cares about really feel this way or is he too self absorbed to see those around him? When the seduction of his wife backfires upon him he sees, with horror, the error of his ways and delves deeper and deeper into the new identity the mask has given him.
Teshigahara also intersperses the film with a film within a film. A young Hibakusha girl and her brother live together. The girl, whose face had been burned by the atom bombs, goes throughout her daily life. She is approached and then scorned by strangers and makes guns with her brother. She asks him if there would be another war soon. He answers honestly not realizing that what they are doing, creating weapons, could create more people like her. In the novel her story is deliberately shown to be a film that Okuyama had seen in the theatres having gone there to find comfort in the darkness. In the film it cuts back and forth never making it clear what her story had to do with Okuyama’s. Both have been horribly scarred, one by industry, the other by war.
Teshigahara fills this film with spectacular visuals, particularly those in the doctor’s office. Another visual highlight would be the way he focuses attention. In the scenes where the doctor and the newly masked Okuyama go out to drink at a German bar Teshigahara slows down the crowd behind them, quiets the music and alters the lighting. These subtle touches go unnoticed until he returns the bustle and noise of the crowd. The conversation is one that the audience, and the men involved, become so involved with that the crowd fades away behind them.
Brilliant but far from upbeat, The Face of Another highlights the moral ambiguity that rests within society. Teshigaraha’s outstanding cinematography makes the film one of a kind. The Face of Another, which would make an excellent double bill with Seconds, is a dark moral tale about alienation and identity. What kind of reaction is an audience supposed to have when all of Okuyama’s attempts to rejoin society that only push him further away?

IMDb Link: Tanin no kao
Where to buy: Criterion