From the Chicago Reader (February 1, 2002). It was great to see this amazing, radical masterpiece on TCM last night, even if Ben Mankiewicz consistently mispronounced the director’s name and gave almost completely erroneous information about it. — J.R.
Teinosuke Kinugasa’s mind-boggling silent masterpiece of 1926 was thought to have been lost for 40 years until the director discovered a print in his garden shed. A seaman hires on as a janitor at an insane asylum to free his wife, who’s become an inmate after attempting to kill herself and her baby. The film’s expressionist style is all the more surprising because Japan had no such tradition to speak of; Kinugasa hadn’t even seen The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari when he made this. Yet the rhythmic pulsation of graphic, semiabstract depictions of madness makes the film both startling and mesmerizing. I can’t vouch for the live musical accompaniment by Pillow, an unorthodox quartet that’s reportedly quite percussive, but its instrumentation — clarinet, dry ice, tubes, electric guitar, accordion, contrabass, cello — sounds appropriate. 75 min. Presented by Columbia College and Chicago Filmmakers. Columbia College Ferguson Theater, 600 S. Michigan, Friday, February 1, 8:00, 773-293-1447.