A Page of Madness

A Page of Madness ★★½

Viewed with the Amazing Edith’s *Collab Film Group*.

After brainstorming over fantastic music for a silent film with the Collab, I ended up just buckling in for the music that was recorded by the Alloy Orchestra in 2016. While not the most dynamic of pieces, it was a trip to experience a silent film in the throes of a non-ragtime or piano-centric piece. The percussive element is very much alive and well, and drives the eclectic and frenetic mania A Page of Madness strives for. Additionally, there is not a single intertitle card which makes the film stick out all the more, coincidentally adding to the blurred and incoherent narrative. 

As this is silent film 60+ for me (I did not have the time to tally up an exact count), it is fascinating to see the superimposed imagery and bravado editing occurring so frequently. I am not so sure if cinema was spread around between countries back in the day (my instinct is to say it wasn’t) but there seems to be a massive influence from D.W. Griffith and Abel Gance in both these technical regards. Director Teinisuke Kinugasa also happened to make 35+ films prior to this one and not a single one has survived. Regardless, it is interesting to think of the influences occurring here as well as the possibility Kinugasa brewed up these technical ideas on his own. I am no expert in silent film but my journey through it always seems to trace back to Griffith, Gance and Murnau—particularly the previous two as they changed cinema forever in their use of editing as a tool for narrative storytelling. For those of you who have been following me since last summer, you may recognize that I often reference Gance’s La Roue as a massive achievement of the silent era. I can understand the fact that a film 4.5 hours long (cut down from 9) would bore most everyone to tears, but it is a magnificent narrative spectacle diving into the madness born from love with the superimposed imagery of trains and circles driving the film forward.

A Page of Madness contains a microcosm of these elements and it does lose me a bit in its incoherent narrative (partially not to blame as some film is missing) as well as falling prey to some average performances. The dancing sequences are terrific however, as well as any time we are exposed to the abstract imagery in the fore. This ultimately leaves me at an average rating, leaving me wanting more from Kinugasa who I definitey plan on exploring in greater depth.

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