Criterion Prediction #262: A Page of Madness, by Alexander Miller
Title: A Page of Madness
Director: Teinosuke Kinugasa
Cast: Masuo Inoue, Yoshie Nakagawa, Ayako Iijima, Eiko Minami
Synopsis: A man hopes to care for his wife’s mental anguish by taking a job at the asylum where she’s an inmate.
Critique: This is one of those experiential movies; yes, we “experience” every movie we see, but there’s something different about the motivations and artistic temperament of A Page Of Madness. The film has the weird distinction that can either flatter or ruin a feature. It’s made by people who operate outside formal film production. A collaboration between director Kinusaga (Gate of Hell) and luminaries of the transformative Shinkankakuha pre-war art movement Yasunari Kawabata, Minoru Inuzuka, this formal repudiation of mainstream literature is in itself a subject that merits its own litany of insight. The result of A Page of Madness is the delirious movie that, in the best tradition of artistic cinema, shirks convention, instinctively pivots into its own niche of undiluted brilliance. Visually sketching and scribbling nightmarish tableaus with a fluttering indifference to traditional structure and yet, A Page of Madness emerges with enough cohesion to stealthily glide from avant-garde to semi-obscure silent classic.
Why it Belongs in the Collection: You could evoke the case of “well if Criterion can release one film from this director they can do more..” as Kinugasa’s 1953 Gate of Hell is one of their best bare-bones releases. Be that as it may, A Page of Madness is not only a unique film deserving of a spine number. It’s also a significant historical artifact that would relish in a renaissance that would follow a Criterion release.