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A Page of Madness (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on December 31, 2011

 

One of the very few pre-WWII movies to make my top 100, but I’d only seen it once so I figured I’d better revisit it.  After all, if it’s so great it shouldn’t take me nearly 6 years to see it again, and besides, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t subconsciously adding a token silent to my list.  On the first count, my only excuse is that the copy I owned was shoddy and tough to enjoy.  Fortunately, this new one is a much cleaner print aired on TCM (although sadly, still only the 59-minute version as opposed to the rumored 78-minute version).  This copy I will definitely watch more frequently.  Because there’s no tokenism going on here, this film belongs in my top 100, and maybe even higher up the list.

The story is admittedly hard to follow.  There are no intertitles and it would have originally been narrated by a benshi.  But the relative lack of narrative (and don’t get me wrong, there is a discernible plot) only adds to the unsettling, off-kilter nature of the film.  It’s one of the most dizzying, delirious depictions of insanity I’ve seen, with haunting and bizarre imagery around every corner, an almost complete breakdown of the wall between subjective and objective reality… and a reminder that, in a way, all cinema is a form of madness.  The variety and level of technique on display is not only impressive, but used appropriately.  The avant-garde 1971 score makes for brilliant accompaniment as well.  It’s an exhilarating piece of work, both despite and because of its incompleteness.  Rating: Masterpiece

IMDb
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