A PAGE OF MADNESS (1926)
aka Kurutta ippeji
Article 4227 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa
Featuring Masuo Inoue, Yoshie Nakagawa, Ayako Iijima
What it is: An encounter with madness
A man takes a job at an insane asylum in the hopes that he can free his wife from it.
From what I gather, very little Japanese silent film is extant, and now I’ve seen two from the era in the same week. Furthermore, they’re both by the same director, Teinosuke Kinugasa, and if these movies are any indication, he was a definite cinematic genius; this one is even more breathtaking stylistically than JUJIRO. According to IMDB, this was made on an extremely low budget; if so, it shows just how much can be done on a tiny budget with creative editing and innovative camerawork. The plot itself is a bit obscure at times, partially due to the fact that there are no subtitles, and partially because the style of the piece (which occasionally puts us in the position of seeing the world through the eyes of the madmen) often leaves us unsure of what is real. From a story perspective, I’m not sure it can be called a horror film, but because of the way madness pervades the film, it becomes one anyway. At any rate, this is one genuinely unsettling cinematic experience.