On 11 December 2010, Kurutta Ippeiji/ A Page of Madness, an audacious yet innovative film of early Japanese silent cinema, debuts in Southeast Asia at the National Museum of Singapore. Created by Teinosuke Kinugasa with bold aesthetic and subversion of cinematic conventions, the film narrates the story of a retired sailor who takes up a job as a janitor in an asylum for the mentally ill, where his wife is committed to after attempting to drown their child. This masterpiece from 1926 is a highlight of the National Museum Cinémathèque World Cinema Series programme and it will be screened with live music composed and performed by the progressive Singaporean band, The Observatory.
Ms Lee Chor Lin, director of the National Museum of Singapore, says, “The National Museum of Singapore has screened two silent films that were accompanied by Singapore musicians, playing to full-house audience both times. We are pleased to screen Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Kurutta Ippeiji/ A Page of Madness, programming it with original music composition by Singapore-based band The Observatory. This is our way of giving the materials a new sensation and contemporary interpretation.”
Kurutta Ippeiji/ A Page of Madness depicts a startling perspective of the world viewed by the mentally ill. Told without inter-titles, the film relies purely on visual expressions to convey the intricately woven story of the man’s fantasies to liberate his wife as it blends in with the mad, confounding visions of the other inmates. Teinosuke Kinugasa boldly synthesized every available experimental technique known at the time to create a surrealistic and frightening nightmare of a world gone mad. He had reached far beyond the standards set by his contemporaries, and thus, celebrated for his contribution to the avant-garde movement in Japan.
Long believed to be lost in the bombings of World War II, the negatives of Kurutta Ippeiji/ A Page of Madness was rediscovered in the 1970s and the film was screened to international acclaim half a century after its completion.
Silent films are celebrated as a unique genre of cinema because they are able to tell stories without dialogue and only through visual aesthetics. Such a characteristic of silent films opens up new possibilities for artists to create accompanying music scores from their own interpretations of the silent films. The Observatory, who is well known for their efforts in expanding musical boundaries, has been invited to compose and perform for the screening of Kurutta Ippeiji/ A Page of Madness. In addition to producing their own albums, The Observatory has previously collaborated with filmmakers and playwrights such as Royston Tan, Ho Tzu Nyuen and Kok Heng Leun to create music tailored for film and theatre.
For more information about the film, please visit http://www.nationalmuseum.sg/.