The Face of Another


1966 – Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara

Random thoughts. These Sunday posts are often about fighting the urge to rigidly catalogue things but not always being successful. Sorry if this just sounds like a rough taxonomy of key points.

The Face of Another is an oddly cold but sedutive allegorical piece of science fiction: presented in a harsh, graphical style that appears to constantly alert us to surfaces.

I want to start off by presenting the segment around which the movie seems to pivot:

I don’t think that there is an accident that the song has a vaguely Kurt Weill-ish feel. (Who wrote this?) The emphasis on facades and artifices in the film is similarly Brechtian. The beaded curtain in the home of Okuyama and his wife echo the Langer’s Lines in the doctor’s office. Body parts become detached and inanimate parts become part of the body. The scars on the face of the girl in the parallel story flit in and out of the field of vision for both ourselves and observers within the film.

Teshigahara is clearly telling a tale from a moral standpoint: it could be interesting to compare this to Stray Dog as far as being a critique of post war Japan and the dissolution of identity: perhaps a project for the future. It is certainly also an interesting idea to think about masks as mode of transcending identity from our own historical period, in which we seem to, from our online identities at least, have no corporeality at all. Again, for another time.

(One question: why does the soundtrack music when Okuyama is seducing his wife sound so familiar? I would love some feedback on this.)


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