8.0/10
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24 user 41 critic

Tanin no kao (1966)

Not Rated | | Drama, Sci-Fi | 9 June 1967 (USA)
A businessman with a disfigured face obtains a lifelike mask from his doctor, but the mask starts altering his personality.

Writers:

Kôbô Abe (screenplay), Kôbô Abe (novel)
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2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

9 June 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Have a Stranger's Face See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The source material for this film came from a Kôbô Abe novel of the same name. Abe also wrote the screenplay for this film. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

References The Invisible Man (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Ten Little Indians
(uncredited)
Traditional American melody
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User Reviews

Visual Trickery Disguises Narrative Weakness
22 February 2017 | by bensonjSee all my reviews

James Quandt's strident narration of the "video essay" that accompanies the Criterion release of THE FACE OF ANOTHER complains about the reception the film received in the United States on its initial release. He quotes the critics of the time: "extravagantly chic," "arch," "abstruse," "hermetic," "slavishly symbolic," and "more grotesque than emotionally compelling." Stop right there! These critics knew what they were talking about.

The film combines several hoary and not particularly profound narrative contrivances. Here's a man attempting to seduce his wife, pretending to be another person--this was old when THE GUARDSMAN first went on stage and has been done countless times. Then there's the classic mad scientist, presented with very little nuance, delving into Things that Man Was Not Meant to Know. Related to this is that the story is only able to exist by grossly underestimating man's ability to adapt to the unknown. (An example is the 1952 science fiction story "Mother" by Alfred Coppel in which astronauts all return insane when confronted with the vastness of space.) These primitive tropes are shamelessly built on a simple narrative situation that is completely unable to carry them: a man with a disfigured face getting facial reconstruction. This happens all the time, so what's to "not meant to know"? If all this isn't enough, Teshigahara tacks on an unrelated, completely separate set of characters in their own undeveloped narrative that even Quandt thinks doesn't work. The dialogue by author/screenwriter Kobo Abe is risible, sounding like something out of a grade-B forties horror film.

To disguise the paucity of the film's narrative, Teshigahara has tricked it up with what Quandt admiringly calls "its arsenal of visual innovation: freeze-frames, defamiliarizing close-ups, wild zooms, wash-away wipes, X-rayed imagery, stuttered editing, surrealist tropes, swish pans, jump cuts, rear projection, montaged stills, edge framing, and canted, fragmented, and otherwise stylized compositions." These arty-farty gimmicks (and more) are, of course, hardly "innovations." They were endemic in the early sixties. Their extensive use seems a vain attempt to disguise the film's shallow content. Quandt also sees great significance in the many repetitions in the film: I see only repetition.

But even that is not the film's worst problem. Teshigahara often seems like a still photographer lost in a form that requires narrative structure. His inability to develop a sustained narrative makes the film seem far longer than its already-long two hours plus. Things happen, but the film doesn't really progress. The end result is little more than a compendium of tricks and narrative scraps borrowed from others.


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