Page of Madness / Kurutta ichipeiji
Introduction by Michael Raine, Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages & Civilizations and Cinema & Media Studies
An extraordinary, even contradictory, film in many respects, Page of Madness (Kurutta ichipeiji) has been praised as a masterpiece of the political modernist avant-garde, exposing by breaking all the devices of classical narration’s ideological transparency and questioning the stability of the story world itself.
It was created by a loose collective of avant-garde filmmakers and writers (in particular Kawabata Yasunari, who would go on to win the Nobel prize for literature), and featured Inoue Masao, one of the most highly regarded actors of his day. Page of Madness focuses on the climactic moments of a tangled web of interpersonal relations that threatens the most precious thing a family can achieve; the marriage of a daughter to a man of a higher class. The husband in this film is a reformed drunk and ex-sailor who works as a janitor in a mental institution in order to care for the wife who he abused and who has gone mad after drowning her baby. Their daughter is about to marry a rich man until his friend warns him of the rumors over his fiancee’s mother’s mental health.
“Rediscovered” in the 1970s, the current version of the film is 25 minutes shorter than the one that was first released, emphasizing the avant-garde aspects of the original, it’s impressionist rhythms and kammerspiel-like intensity. Lacking scenes in which a series of bitter confrontations may or may not have been resolved, we are left with an almost hallucinatory set of images in which one character seems to substitute for another until all the faces are replaced by masks.
Accompaniment provided by a quartet of musicians led by Tatsu Aoki, Chicago bassist and Associate Professor, Film, Video and New Media Department, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Tatsu Aoki - bass, shamisen
Jonathan Chen - violin, electronics
Amy Homma - taiko, narimono
Noriko Sugiyama - taiko, narimono
(Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1926, Japan, silent, black and white, 35mm)
From the collection of the George Eastman House. Co-sponsored by the Japan Committee.