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The Man Without a Map (1968)
"Moetsukita chizu" (original title)

 |  Mystery  |  1 June 1968 (Japan)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 216 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 3 critic

A private detective is hired to find a missing man by his wife. Contradictory evidence and the lack of clues soon render the case as virtually unsolvable, as the detective grows more and more frustrated.


(screenplay), (novel)
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Complete credited cast:
Shintarô Katsu ...
Etsuko Ichihara ...
Osamu Ôkawa ...
Wife's Brother
Kiyoshi Atsumi ...
Tamao Nakamura ...
Detective's Wife
Kinzô Shin ...
Coffee Shop Owner
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Reiko Kasahara
Hôsei Komatsu
Akiko Kudô
Aiko Nagayama
Shôjirô Ogasawara
Kyôichi Satô
Haruo Tanaka
Sakae Umezu
Hideko Yoshida


A private detective is hired to find a missing man by his wife. Contradictory evidence and the lack of clues soon render the case as virtually unsolvable, as the detective grows more and more frustrated.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

1 June 1968 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Man Without a Map  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

The Man Without a Map (1968)
16 May 2015 | by (Croatia) – See all my reviews

This is the last out of four collaborations between director Hiroshi Teshigahara, writer Kobo Abe and composer Toru Takemitsu, but it's never discussed as much as the previous three movies are. This one is in CinemaScope and in color (with a different DP, too), and more confusing than any of them, so I guess fewer people remember it because it isn't quite like the preceding trilogy, even though it tackles the same topics of identity and individualism in the modern world.

The Man Without a Map is based on Kobo Abe's novel The Ruined Map, although the movie likes to call itself The Man Without a Map, in English. Yes, this is the first Japanese '60s film I've ever seen where the opening titles are in English. Moving on, we have Shintaro Katsu, one of the best Japanese actors of the '60s, as a hard-boiled detective dealing with a frustratingly unsolvable case of a man gone missing. The clues he's given contradict each other and soon it gets hard to distinguish what's actually happening. The film explores the loss of an individual's identity in a huge world full of people with their own lives to live, and sometimes certain people get crushed together with their own selves, as made clear in the final scene with the dead dog on the street.

The intro is memorable enough; a burning piece of paper reveals an artsy background showered in sounds of a broken radio transmission. The entire film has an interesting visual side to it, it's like a mixture of op-art pieces, neo-noir coolness and traditional Japanese aesthetics. The majority of the film is blue and grey, taking place in the streets, but several locations are bathed in striking shades of yellow or red. The characters are shot through various reflective surfaces and geometrical shapes, making some shots look more complex than you'd expect, like the bar scene shot where three characters are facing away from us, with the waiter in the middle. Two of the three characters in the front have their faces seen through a mirror in the background, between bottles.

Unfortunately, the movie loses itself after the engrossing first hour and the mass confusion of the case doesn't come across as perplexing or thought-provoking, but instead lazy and under-scripted. Shintaro Katsu and the others do their very best, but the material isn't really fertile and the ending is way too abrupt and unsatisfying. The surrealistic sequences and some dialogues are completely baffling (not in an interesting way), and the scenes when the image goes into negative filters are just ugly.

The movie has a fantastic atmosphere, fascinating visual design and a seriously great storyline, but it never really amounts to anything. The direction isn't passionate, the script is weak. Perhaps Teshigahara was faced with a heavy identity crisis of his own while filming this? Either way, it's an alright film, but with lots and lots of failed potential.

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