The Face of Another (1966)
"Tanin no kao" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  9 June 1967 (USA)
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Reviews: 22 user | 37 critic

A businessman with a disfigured face obtains a lifelike mask from his doctor, but the mask starts altering his personality.


(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Okuyama
Mikijirô Hira ...
Miki Irie ...
Girl with Scar
The Boss
Minoru Chiaki ...
Apartment Superintendent
Hideo Kanze ...
Male Patient
Kunie Tanaka ...
Patient at Mental Hospital
Etsuko Ichihara ...
Yo-Yo Girl
Eiko Muramatsu ...
Yoshie Minami ...
Old Lady
Hisashi Igawa ...
Man with Mole
Kakuya Saeki ...
Elder Brother of Girl with Scar
Sen Yano ...
Mentally Ill Man A
Beverly Maeda ...
Singer in Bar (as Bibari Maeda)


A businessman facially scarred in a laboratory fire receives psychotherapy from a psychiatrist, and obtains an amazingly lifelike mask from the doctor. Soon after being fitted for the mask, he seduces his wife and succeeds. But his wife claims she was aware all along who he was and believed that both were just masquerading together as most couples usually do in different ways. Strangely enough, his personality seemingly begins to change after he puts on the mask as if the mask has influenced his personality. His new identity does not enable him to reintegrate into society after all. A subplot is inserted in fragments. A good-natured young woman, the right side of whose face is disfigured, has been hurt by others' inquisitive eyes and insults, and has been shunned by men. She asks her older brother, the only man who understands her pain and solitude, to make love to her, hiding from him the intent of killing herself after then. Written by Prion

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Sci-Fi


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 June 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Have a Stranger's Face  »

Company Credits

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Did You Know?


Psychiatrist: You're not the only lonely man. Being free always involves being lonely. Just there is a mask you can peel off and another you can not.
See more »


References The Phantom of the Opera (1925) See more »


Music by Tôru Takemitsu
Lyrics by Tatsuji Iwabuchi
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User Reviews

More poignant now than ever
24 July 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Mr. Okuyama (Tatsuya Nakadai) is a physically and emotionally wounded man. After an industrial accident at work, his face has been scarred and mutilated beyond recognition, and even his wife rejects him, even though she says his physical appearance doesn't matter. It has left him bitter and angry, until his psychiatrist Dr. Hira (Mikijiro Hira) comes up with a way to fashion a 'face mask' that will give him the appearance of having a completely normal face, albeit with a few joining marks. Hira doesn't do this just out of kindness, he is fascinated how this new face will alter Okuyama's personality and way of life.

The Face of Another is a fascinating film that highlights the social attitudes to physical appearance. There are hundreds of films and morality tales that teach you that it is inner beauty that counts, and once you allow this to shine then your physical attractiveness becomes irrelevant. Everyone knows that this is bullshit, so its refreshing to see a film that makes it clear from the outset that physical appearance has a massive part to play in society. Okuyama's new face, which is an attractive one, changes him so much that he takes on an almost dual identity. Dr. Hira delights in telling him that he has bought flashy new clothes, something he was never concerned with before. It becomes clear that whilst before Okuyama merely wanted to be normal again and fit back in society, his new face is engulfing him, and to be 'normal' simply isn't enough anymore.

As with many of the Japanese New Wave film-makers of the 1960's-70's, director Hiroshi Teshigahara takes some bold steps and sneaks in some surrealist and art-house values in a movie that is otherwise played relatively straight. A 'fictional' character appears every now and then throughout (she is first imagined by Okuyama's wife as a character in a movie); one side of her face is scarred and burned. She appears quite rarely, but seems to serve as an alternative to Okuyama's increasingly vain soul. Another scene seems a ball of hair that floats in the air, unnoticed by the people in the laboratory. I have no idea what it meant, and couldn't really admit to it being wholly successful, but it certainly got my attention nonetheless.

A powerful, disturbing, and poignant drama/horror from the greatest era in Japanese cinema. The film seems all the more important now, 45 years on, in a world where a botox injection can be as easy as buying a pack of cigarettes, and where physical 'beauty' is less a bonus than a necessity.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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