《瘋狂的一頁》:新感覺派與電影實驗new




實驗精神和現代主義,是二十世紀的文化藝術潮流,不同領域的藝術創作,都發掘人的內在心理意識,以及表現的方法與形式。

《瘋狂的一頁》是日本前衛實驗電影的先驅作品,具有里程碑式的歷史價值。影片問世於大正末年,由衣笠貞之助導演,原作者為川端康成,電影的工作人員名單忽略了編劇人員表,據考證,影片劇本由衣笠貞之助、川端康成、犬塚稔、沢田晩紅四人合撰。影片一度散佚,直至1971年衣笠貞之助從倉庫中尋回,重見天日。目前所見的僅為缺本,但無損影片的前瞻性和藝術價值。

《瘋狂的一頁》為新感覺派映畫聯盟的作品。新感覺派是二戰前的日本文藝流派,以橫光利一和川端康成二人為代表作家,新感覺派作家在同人雜誌《文藝時代》(1924-1927)發表作品。文藝主張方面,橫光利一在〈新感覺運動〉中指出:「所謂新感覺派的表徵,就是要剝去自然的表像,躍入事物自身主觀而直感的觸發物」。至於川端康成在〈新進作家的新傾向解説〉一文中說:「沒有新表現,就沒有新文藝。沒有新表現,就沒有新內容。沒有新感覺,就沒有新表現。」新感覺派作家重視主觀多於客觀,重視感覺多於理性,追求新的表現與形式。

《瘋狂的一頁》是新感覺派電影,而影片的風格,深受德國表現主義代表作《卡里加里博士》(The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,1920)的影響,也有法國印象主義電影的痕跡。全片聚焦於瘋人院和心理狀態,展現出非理性的扭曲世界。

《瘋狂的一頁》開首就以雷雨為意象,呈現出洶湧澎湃的內心世界,以及外在世界的種種衝擊。影片充滿房間、門窗、鐵欄、籠子等意象,帶出封閉的世界和內外二重空間,引申出理性與非理性的精神世界。《瘋狂的一頁》的表現節奏快速,教人目不暇給,刺激觀眾視覺,產生重重感覺與自由聯想。電影也活用舞蹈,南榮子異國情調的舞蹈和現代舞蹈,為電影加添藝術與神秘氣氛。

《瘋狂的一頁》無字幕,但並非完全沒有劇情,片中在瘋人院工作的守衛,在雷雨之夜探望妻子,守衛過去曾是一個水手,對妻子不好,卒之引致她瘋狂。守衛心感內疚,在瘋人院一邊工作,一邊照顧妻子。翌日,守衛的女兒來到瘋人院,告知將與一個年輕人結婚,守衛開始擔心,妻子在瘋人院一事,可能令女兒未婚夫誤解,令大好婚姻告吹。

瘋人院中出現騷亂,守衛被主診醫生責罵。然後,守衛幻想在抽獎中贏得大獎,可以給女兒當嫁妝。現實中,守衛的女兒再來訪,告知婚姻出了變故,守衛決定將妻子帶離瘋人院,隱姓埋名。可是,二人出逃不成功,他幻想反抗和重傷了主診醫生,可是女兒竟與一個長鬍子的瘋人結婚。守衛又幻想向瘋人分發面具,面具都是歡笑的面孔。現實中,他繼續工作,但他已沒有鎖匙(醫生拾去),不能再探望和照顧妻子了。最後,他看到長鬍子的瘋人向他鞠躬,彷彿是向岳父致意。

《瘋狂的一頁》就如一幕又一幕的意識流動,衣笠貞之助運用了疊印、倒置、快搖、跳接、空鏡頭、慢動作等多種電影技巧,尤其出色的是開場時,樂器(指向聲音與聽覺)、舞蹈、雷電與雨水的疊置,展現出快速而強烈的節奏感,刺激觀眾的感官,也暗示瘋人的心理狀態。

《瘋狂的一頁》充滿幻象與回憶,切合新感覺派美學觀。川端康成是《瘋狂的一頁》的原作者,他的掌小說〈不笑的男人〉(1928)就寫了當時拍攝的過程和電影尾聲的設計。川端康成想到古董店裏微笑的假面具,「用意在這暗淡的故事結尾出現明朗的微笑,卻未能實現,所以至少要讓美麗的微笑的假面具把現實遮掩起來。」川端康成最終卻發現了現實與美的不一致:「這悲慘的人生的面孔,原先是隱藏在美麗的假面具後面,後來才顯露出來的。」甚至,川端康成疑問外在社會的虛假,人活在假面的社會中:「過去在我身邊不時地露出溫柔的微笑的妻子的面孔,會不會是假面具呢?女人的微笑,會不會像這面具那樣是一種藝術呢?」

回到《瘋狂的一頁》的結尾,笑或許令人想到茂瑙(F.W. Murnau)的名作《最後之笑》(The Last Laugh,1924),但這個抽象的尾聲,也可以帶來許多聯想,假面具代表了壓抑非理性帶來,維持表面的秩序,以及表現個人的無奈。

《瘋狂的一頁》的藝術成就固然教人讚嘆,但電影的社會文化意義也同樣重要。電影的瘋人院是人內在的心理顯影,也是社會的縮影,社會表面上理性有序,管理妥當,但由於不滿和反壓制的力量隨時如水洶湧而出,社會秩序是脆弱的。

另一方面,電影的瘋人院也是日本社會的象徵,在恥感文化主導的日本,羞恥的壓力來自外部,包括譏笑和排斥,守衛受恥感驅動,暗中照顧妻子,與社會隔絕,女兒出嫁一事,令守衛要帶妻子進一步疏離社會,這些都反照出恥感文化的強制力。結果,守衛無法逃離恥感文化的社會強制力,唯有以面具假裝一切美好如常。

《瘋狂的一頁》在專門放映外國片的電影院放映,得到影評人如岩崎昶和田中純一郎的欣賞。可是,票房收入並未抵消支出,衣笠貞之助需要為松竹公司製作歷史題材電影來償還債務。但是衣笠貞之助的實驗精神並不休止,他再接再厲,拍攝另一前衛實驗電影《十字路》(1928),然後,衣笠貞之助帶着《十字路》離開日本到歐洲,在蘇聯會見了愛森斯坦和普多夫金,1930年回到日本,為松竹公司拍攝了《黎明以前》(1931),運用了蒙太奇技法。

mad 2

A Page of Madness: The New Perception school and experimental film

The 20th century witnessed modernism and experimentation as artistic and cultural trends. During this same period, various forms of the creative arts were exploring the inner psyche. 

A Page of Madness is a pioneer work of avant-garde Japanese film which has milestone historical value. The film was made during the last year of the Taisho era and was directed by Kinugasa Teinosuke with Kawabata Yasunari credited as the original author. The film's credits do not include the script writer. Textual research has revealed the script to be the work of four people: Kawabata, Kinugasa, Inuzuka Minoru, and Sawada Bankô. The film was lost until 1971 when Kinugasa recovered it from storage. Although the current version is incomplete, the film's innovative and artistic value is in no way lessened.

A Page of Madness was produced by the New Perception School Film Alliance (Shinkankakuha Eiga Renmei). The New Perception school was a pre-WWII Japanese literary group led by Yokomitsu Riichi and Kawabata. New Perception school writers published works in the literary journal Bungei jidai (The Artistic Age, 1924-1927). From a literary perspective, Yokomitsu stated in his article "New Perception Movement" that "[t]he phenomenon of perception for the New Perception school is[...]the direct, intuitive sensation of a subjectivity that peels away the naturalized exterior aspects and leaps into the thing itself." Kawabata wrote in his article "New Tendencies of the New Writers" that "[w]ithout new expression, there will be no new literature. Without new expression, there is no new content. Without new perception, there will be no new expression." In addition to the pursuit of new forms and modes of expression, New Perception school writers valued subjectivity over objectivity and feelings over reason.

As a New Perception school film, the style of A Page of Madness was influenced by a masterpiece of German Expressionism, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), but also shows traces of French impressionist film. The film's focus on the asylum and its inhabitants' psychological states reveals the irrationality of a distorted world.

A Page of Madness's initial image is a thunderstorm that reveals a surging inner world and an external world under attack. Images of rooms, doors and windows, iron bars and cages are prevalent throughout, representing a closed off world and twinned interior and exterior spaces from which the psychological states of rationality and irrationality derive. A Page of Madness is a fast-paced feast for the eyes of stimulating visuals that produces every sort of sensation and free association. The film also employs dance, with the exotic and modern pieces of Minami Eiko adding art and mystery to the film.

A Page of Madness has no subtitles but does have some plot. One night during a torrential rainstorm, a custodian visits his wife in the asylum where he works. A former sailor, he feels guilty for treating his wife badly and causing her to go insane. He took the custodial job and is secretly taking care of her. The next day, the custodian's daughter comes to the asylum to tell him that she will soon marry a young man, and the custodian begins to worry that the wife's madness could be misunderstood by her daughter's fiancé, ending the daughter's good marriage prospects.

There is a riot in the asylum, and the custodian is scolded by the head doctor. The custodian then imagines winning money in a lottery that he could give to his daughter as her dowry. In reality, the custodian's daughter comes again to tell him her marriage is endangered. The custodian decides to take his wife away from the asylum and live incognito. However, their escape proves unsuccessful. He fantasizes about fighting and seriously injuring the head doctor, but then the daughter unexpectedly marries a bearded inmate. The custodian imagines distributing smiling masks to the all the inmates. In reality, he goes on working, but he no longer has his key (taken by the doctor), and so is no longer able to visit and care for his wife. At the film's end, he sees the bearded inmate, who bows to him as though bowing to his father-in-law.

The movie is a scene-by-scene stream of consciousness. Kinugasa used a variety of cinematography techniques -superimposed and inverted images, whip pans, jump cuts, scenery shots, and slow motion - but especially remarkable are the overlapping musical instrumentation, dance, lightning and rain of the opening scene. From this emerges a rapid, intense tempo that stimulates the audience's senses and also suggests the psychological state of a madman.

In keeping with the aesthetics of New Perception school, A Page of Madness is full of illusion and memories. Kawabata, the original author of A Page of Madness, wrote about the shooting process and design of the film's ending in "The Man Who Did Not Smile" (1928). In this short story from his collection Palm-of-the-Hand Stories, the fictional Kawabata recalls a mask seen at a curio shop: "Since I could not hope to show a bright smile at the end of this dark story, at least I could wrap reality in a beautiful, smiling mask." Eventually Kawabata finds the inconsistency between reality and beauty: "After [my wife's face] had been hidden by the beautiful mask, her face had revealed this shadow of a wretched life." Kawabata also questions the falseness of the outside world, where a person lives under society's mask: "And [my fear of the beautiful mask] aroused in me the suspicion that the ever-smiling gentle face of my wife might itself be a mask or that my wife's smile might be artifice, just like the mask." 

Returning to the end of A Page of Madness, the laugh at the film's conclusion might well remind us of F.W. Murnau's masterpiece The Last Laugh (1924), although this abstract ending brings many additional associations: the masks represent the suppression of irrationality, maintaining of superficial order, and expression of personal helplessness.

The artistic achievement of A Page of Madness is certainly amazing, but the social and cultural significance of the film is equally important. The asylum in the film is the inner psychology of humans exposed and is likewise a microcosm of society. Society is rational, orderly, and well-managed on the surface, but social order is fragile due to the constant, powerful outpouring of dissatisfaction and counterforces.

The asylum in the film is also symbolic of Japanese society. In Japan, which is dominated by a culture of shame, which includes ridicule and rejection, pressure comes from the outside. Secretly caring for his wife and isolated from society, the custodian is motivated by his sense of shame. His daughter's marriage further alienates the custodian from society. He takes his wife with him in this alienation. All of this reflects the shame culture's coercive power. As a result, the guards, too, cannot escape the social coercion of shame, and only pretend that all is well and as usual.

A Page of Madness was screened in a movie theater specializing in foreign films, where it was seen and appreciated by film critics such as Iwasaki Akira and Tanaka Junichiro. Its income at the box office did not offset the cost to make it, however; it was necessary for Kinugasa to make several historical films for the Shochiku Company to pay off the debt. While in the Soviet Union, he met Eisenstein and Pudovkin. Kinugasa returned to Japan in 1930 and made use of montage techniques to film Before Dawn (1931) for the Shochiku Company.

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