Monday, May 22, 2006


I totally forgot about "The Face of Another," which waggish discusses. An alternate title is: "I Have a Stranger's Face." I only vaguely remember scenes, but one does stand out, tho I'm not sure whether it's a nightmare sequence or if it's part of "real" events. The main character is walking down the street completely bandaged as in the pic above. There are crowds of people numbly walking along, shuffling and bumping past him, looking like very normal, proper Japanese middle-class folks, and, as I recall, they're totally ignoring him. It's utterly horrifying, not just in their rejection or lack of recognition of him, but that this lack of recongition is coupled with the sense of their overwhelming almost ominous presence. Yet, I can't quite recall if they are horrified by him, ignore him, or if they too, for a moment, appear with masks. It would make sense if all three were the case. Truama, psychoanalytic awareness, extreme aesthetic/cultural specificity, denial and repression... Japanese cinema post WWll is absolutely fascinating. I can't get enough of it. That and Japanese TV shows, particularly Ultraman. My favorite Ultraman character? Dada, of course. See the resemblance?


Mr. Waggish said...

The repulsion is not overt, but yes, all three are the case. It's a realistic scene, but as it's filtered through his perceptions of victimhood and sub-personhood, he sees everyone else in masks as he projects his state onto them in fury. It's a brilliant scene.

Thanks for the link. Have you seen the third Abe/Teshigahara collaboration, The Ruined Map? I can't find it anywhere.

kfd313 said...

Ah, yes I thought it was a projection but wasn't sure. Strange how it stuck w/e, I havenit seen the film in years. Infact, if you asked me if I'd seen it I would have said no. Too many drugs in my youth!

With that said, I might have seen The Ruined Map.... I'll imdb it.
And you're welcome. I enjoy your blog.

On a semi-related note, speaking of Japaese cinema and body/self image estrangement... have you seen the Tetsuo the Iron Man? One of my favorites.

Mr. Waggish said...

Yeah, and in fact, I don't think Tetsuo is so far off in craziness from Kobo Abe's later work. I wish someone would film "The Box Man" or "Secret Rendezvous," which are way more bizarre than the 3 Teshi. adaptations.

"The Box Man" has more than enough self-estrangement; it concerns a sect of Japanese people who are homeless and walk around with boxes on their heads down to their knees. And then it gets really weird... I love it because it's surrealism seems so non-Freudian and foreign, like a set of wholly new signifiers.

From looking at your blog, I do recommend Ichikawa's cross-dressing extravaganza "An Actor's Revenge" to you. It's a very layered set of gender commentaries, and one of the earlier (1970, I think) breaks from the "evil woman/woman as victim" dichotomy of so much Japanese film.