Monday, November 19, 2012

Truth on Film

A Man Vanishes (1967) - Imamura
a man vanishes
Imamura's search for the truth goes beyond a representation of reality on film. A plastic salesman has gone missing. The strong willed, pretty wife of the missing man with a film crew in tow sets out on a journey to find him. Interviews after interviews with various people in the man's life reveal no clear picture regarding the disappearance. The film is also a reflection of a society in a specific time and place. People got married for their financial stability without really knowing each other. "How can a man be missing in such a small place?" the voice over in the beginning asks.

Even though Imamura announces in the middle of the film that what we are seeing is a fiction, even after he takes away the studio walls to reveal the sound stage, there is no trace of irony. The wife falls in love with the interviewer/crew member. The film winds down to a sibling rivalry- the case of she said/she said. The shoot ends, director calls cut. People disperse. And we are left with many heady questions: Where is Oshima the plastic salesman? Who is telling the truth? What makes a man? What is reality? A great precursor to current crop of shape-shifting, postmodern cinema, A Man Vanishes is an invigorating experience.

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