With titles suggested by Distracted friends, our latest high class list is here, Iconic Bandages. Notable omissions this time include The Skin I Live In and Ash Wednesday.
Bandages in cinema it seems, signify some change to the individual’s identity. They are mysterious: the viewer wants to know what is underneath them – what change has taken place?
The Man Without A Past (Aki Kaurismaki, 2002)
The second part of Kaurismaki’s ‘Finland Trilogy’ (in between Drifting Clouds & Lights In The Dusk), Markku Peltola is baseball batted to unconsciousness, and later wakes in a hospital to find he can’t remember who he is. Kaurismaki’s cinema is beautiful and seminal, the gentle irony is done with warmth, and this film is no different.
The Invisible Man (James Whale, 1933)
‘He’s mad and he’s invisible!’
Claude Rains gives a quite brilliant vocal performance as the doctor who thinks he’s cleverer then everyone else, and who embarks on a terror spree after being driven insane by his self-induced invisibility. Director Whale allows the intrinsic absurdity of the scenario to flourish too. A real joy.
The Face Of Another (Heroshi Teshighara, 1966)
Visually mind blowing, with a moody atmosphere, Tatsuya Nakadai is disfigured in an industrial accident and estranged from friends and family. He receives ‘a face transplant created from the mold of stranger’. Described as an ‘existential parable’, The Face Of Another is one of the great cinematic expressions of alienation and the individual.
Dark Passage (Delmer Daves, 1947)
Bogart n Bacall. Bogart’s on the run after busting out of San Quentin. Bacall picks him up and gives him shelter. For the first hour of the film, the viewer sees everything from Bogart’s point of view – it’s one of the earliest uses of the ‘subjective camera’. The point of view becomes objective after Bogart has back-street reconstructive surgery to give him a new face. Tough, ruthless and bleak. Proper noir.
A Woman’s Face (George Cukor, 1941)
Joan Crawford’s bitter, twisted blackmailer hates everyone because of her facial disfigurement. However, Melvyn Douglas’ plastic surgeon corrects it, and turns Crawford into a bright young thing. Life is, as we all know, chronically ironic, and her new lease of life is at risk of being snuffed out when her past threatens to catch up with her.
The Mummy’s Ghost (Reginald Le Borg, 1944)
Lon Chaney’s deeply creepy, mouldy mummy waits for a full moon when he will return Massachusetts lovely, Amina Monsori, to her rightful place in Egypt – she just doesn’t know it yet. Checkout the scenes where the mummy walks really slowly while the townsfolk run, fast, but never seem to catch up with him.
Seconds (John Frankenheimer, 1966)
Brilliantly spooky stuff from Frankenheimer. John Randolph is the wealthy family man who’s life has become pointless. He receives a call from a friend he thought was dead, recommending a secret organisation, known as The Company. Turns out, they’ll fake your death, give you plastic surgery and set up a new life for you. Randolph goes for it, and re-emerges post-op as Rock Hudson – it’s only then however, that the nightmare truly begins.
The Tenant (Roman Polanski, 1976)
The Tenant is the final part of Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy, after Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby. He is actor-auteur here, playing the lead role too. The bandages belong to Simone Choule, the previous tenant of Polanski’s creepy room…. With The Tenant, Polanski creates the finest kind of absurd weirdness, as we witness the invidual’s identity being squeezed by the outside world.
Eyes Without A Face (George Franju, 1960)
Franju’s elegant, moody film, is another in the plastic surgery category. To restore the beauty of his daughter who was disfigured in a car accident, mad scientist Dr Genessier tries to graft another girl’s face onto hers, with bleak results. Edith Scob as the masked, isolated daughter is genuinely vulnerable. Franju said of her; “She is a magic person. She gives the unreal reality.”
Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)
In Polanski’s retro-noir mystery-tragedy, Jack Nicholson gets his nose slashed by flick knife for being a nosy kitty cat. The bandages make Nicholson seem strange, and they draw attention to the fact that we are watching the actions of a constructed character, and not a real person.