Full of surreal, spooky imagery, Teinosuke Kinogasa’s dazzling 1926 masterpiece takes us deep into the fractured lives of a couple in a mental hospital
Teinosuke Kinugasa’s little-seen masterpiece, A Page of Madness, is a rediscovered 1926 silent beauty from Japan’s formative years of cinema. Based on a treatment by Nobel Prize winning novelist Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972), writer of such classics of modern Japanese literature as The Izu Dancer and Snow Country, Kinugasa’s self-financed landmark production was a far cry from the theatrically derived Kabuki adaptations and jidai-geki period swashbucklers being produced at the time en masse. The film takes us deep into the mind of a retired sailor who has taken a job as a janitor in a lunatic asylum to look after his insane wife, locked away after attempting to drown their child. However, a synopsis of the plot can’t begin to explain the power of the film nor the audacity of its vision. Full of surreal, spooky imagery, Kinugasa’s cutting-edge style shows similarities with German expressionism and the French avant-garde. His radical, frenetic montage techniques echo the warped, racing and ungrounded imaginations of the characters. At once sad, tender and in-your-face disturbing, scenes from the past and present mix together at a mind-spinning pace, propelling the story without need for intertitles. As eye-popping an experience as anything you’re likely to see released nowadays. Director Kinugasa was way ahead of the game. Teinosuke Kinugasa went on to become one of Japan’s most respected filmmakers, directing 110 movies including the 1954 Academy Award-winning classic Gate of Hell, but A Page of Madness was his favorite of all his works. A Page of Madness was lost for forty-five years until being rediscovered in a warehouse by Kinugasa in 1971. We are pleased to present a new 35mm restoration by George Eastman House. (Japan, 1926, 60 min., b/w, 35mm)
Ben Model is one of the USA’s leading silent film accompanists, and has been playing piano and organ for silents at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for the past 27 years. Ben co-curated MoMA’s “Cruel and Unusual Comedy”series and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckleretrospective, and also curated Shout!Factory’s new “Ernie Kovacs Collection” DVD box set. A five-time recipient of the Meet The Composer grant, Ben is a regular accompanist at classic film festivals around the U.S.A. and in Norway, and performs at universities, museums, and historic theaters. Ben is the producer and co-founder of The Silent Clowns Film Series, now in its 14th season in NYC. Ben’s recorded scores can be heard on numerous DVD releases from Kino Video and others. Ben’s composed ensemble scores for films by Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd are performed around the U.S. every year by orchestras and by concert bands.