The Face of Another

Following Woman in the Dunes, here director Hiroshi Teshigahara and famed author Kobo Abe approach existential dilemma from another angle: the illusive nature of identity, and the freedom and agony its absence produces for a man who is "buried alive" behind eyes without a face. Tatsuya Nakadai portrays the man, whose features have been erased in an industrial explosion. From a skilled but manipulating doctor he obtains a lifelike mask modeled on a total stranger and becomes a stranger himself, experimenting on others as fate and the doctor have experimented on him. His story is shadowed by that of a young girl, beautiful from one side, disfigured from the other, who seems the epitome of post-Hiroshima fragility. Her suicidal act of incest parallels the hero's illicit seduction of his own wife (Machiko Kyo). Teshigahara imbeds the tale in a documentary study of postwar anonymity (in which it seems the Germans won the culture war) and stunning Modernist sets where transparency and reflection are indistinguishable.

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