Tanin no kao (The Face of Another). 1966. Japan. Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara. Screenplay by Kôbô Abe, based on his novel. With Tatsuya Nakadai, Mikijirô Hira, Kyoko Kishida. 35mm. In Japanese; English subtitles. 124 min.
The third of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s brilliant collaborations with the writer Kôbô Abe and composer Toru Takemitsu (after Pitfall and The Woman in the Dunes), The Face of Another is another of their perversely insane forays into the existential uncanny: a doctor grafts the face of an innocent stranger onto a burn victim, who then uses his new identity to entrap his wife. Using all manner of visual and aural distortion, the filmmakers make allusion to their haunting encounters with Hiroshima and Nagasaki hibakusha (“explosion-affected people”), at a time when Japanese artists like Shohei Tomatsu were also casting a mirror on this shameful and taboo subject. Archival print courtesy of Janus Films.