The Face of Another

Tanin no kao

dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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A disfigured man given a new face by plastic surgery becomes alienated from his previous identity in this chilling existential horror fable from the director of Woman in the Dunes.

Frequently compared to John Frankenheimer's Seconds and Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face, Hiroshi Teshigahara's The Face of Another is considered by many critics to be the equal of his classic Woman in the Dunes. Kurosawa regular Tatsuya Nakadai plays Okuyama, a man disfigured in a chemical accident who undergoes surgery to give him a new face. The mask-like visage bestowed by his rather insidious doctor transfigures Okuyama in more ways than one: he becomes alienated from his former self, attempts to seduce his own wife (a memorably sensuous Machiko Kyo) as a stranger, and takes revenge upon the man who has given him "the face of another." Teshigahara employs a full formal arsenal — strange set design, unsettling visual effects, eerie voiceover, and a nerve-scraping score by Toru Takemitsu — to capture the existential horror of a man suddenly untethered from his identity and unable to exercise the "freedom" that gives him. Both psychological thriller and Frankenstein fable, The Face of Another is "[a]n indelibly powerful film" (Senses of Cinema).

The Face of Another screens free as part of Bell Free Weekend.