director Hiroshi Teshigahara
Hiroshi Teshigahara adaptation of Kōbō Abe’s The Face of Another is an intriguing, interesting film, the third movie of an Abe work that Teshigahara made at the start of his career. The first of Teshigahara’s films I have ever seen.
The film has echoes of other films with gauze-wrapped or masked figures, faces changed or in want of change with the magic of plastic surgery. Are these reflections of other films just in my mind? Certainly they could be within the mind of another cineaste. Whether Delmer Daves Dark Passage (1947) or Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (1960) or even perhaps John Frankenheimer’s own 1966 semi-sci-fi thriller Seconds, this film has many brethren with which it could pair.
But it’s also very much its own film. Teshigahara’s set designs are modernistic and simple, but striking and weird: glass or plastic panels strutted by long steel pins, hold body parts and facial features, an image of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man. The story of a man whose face was scarred badly in an industrial accident has through the magic of modern science the opportunity to accept a copy of a “face of another” to become another man, and does in ways both bad and good. Split not just in two by the change but also by a parallel narrative of another face scarred and the existential crisis therein.
The Face of Another is remarkable and well worth a second look. I will have to queue Teshigahara’s other films first. So many, many movies….