A nightmarish quest to find one's sense of identity after all appearances have been wiped away. Perhaps a reflection of the modern Japanese psyche after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. At turn claustrophobic and oreiniric, and stunningly beautiful. The score by Takemitsu is perfect.
Awesome movie. Nakadai is relatable but creepy. Then he descends into insanity in only the way he can portray. The movie has a pretty cool premise - total anonymity - which is food for thought for today. As of 1/2018 I'm even noticing a shift in social media policy to have one's true, verified identify revealed in profiles on a number of sites.
Along with 'Persona' this may be the greatest cinematic experiment on identity. The fusion of identity as a moral matrix (epitomized by the human face) with the overarching alienation of Japan's struggle with post-WWII modernity, is admirable in every shot and frame. Thus, Teshigahara delivers an aesthetic treat full of tropes and metonymies; each scene elides completion in a parallel exposition of collective trauma.
3-4. That it's a tad verbose somewhat comes with the territory of Japanese cinema. It is indeed one of the better existentialist pieces I've come across, for its seeming emphasis on mutual honesty (even if it's deeply skeptical about the nature of authenticity); but it is a challenging slow burn for the comparative lack of conflict that characterizes most of the film. But its visual punch does compensate for it.
"The face is just a few dozen square inches above the neck, covered with a layer of dough. I wanted to think so. I told myself a million times it was only a layer of skin, a surface. But now I'm not so sure. The face is the door to the soul. When the face is closed off, so too is the soul. Nobody is allowed inside. The soul is left to rot, reduced to ruins."
While it does get points for style, it makes the most important mistake in cinema. Show, don't tell. The doctor keeps insisting that it's the mask that's making him do things. "When the waitress brought the beer, you stared at her legs. That's a sign the mask has started asserting itself." Nonsense. That's why 'Woman in the Dunes' was a masterpiece. Show, don't tell.
An original of a hitherto exhausted topic. The narrative does not reveal explicit details, which contributes to the psychological suspense for the viewer. This being said, however, the entire film was somewhat predictable. I think my appreciation stems from the use of mise en scene and surrealist elements, rather than the use of plot. The intermittent monologues were cool tho.