The movie A Page of Madness (1926) is a silent film directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa, set in a mental institution in rural Japan. The film opens amidst a torrential downpour, with a janitor meandering through the asylum’s corridors, revealing the various inmates afflicted with mental illness. The janitor, a central figure in the narrative, is later revealed to be the husband of one of the patients and the father of a young woman who is about to be married .
The janitor’s wife had descended into madness due to his past cruelty as a sailor. Wracked with guilt, he takes up the job at the asylum to stay close to her. The movie A Page of Madness (1926) delves into the janitor’s psyche as he grapples with the fear that his daughter’s impending marriage might be jeopardized if her fiancé’s family learns of her mother’s condition, given the era’s belief in the heritability of mental illness .
At work, the janitor’s secret relationship with his wife begins to interfere with his duties. A confrontation with male inmates ensues when his wife is struck, leading to a reprimand from the head doctor. These events trigger a series of fantasies in the janitor, blurring the lines between dreams and reality. He imagines winning a chest of drawers in a lottery for his daughter’s dowry, contemplating an escape with his wife from the asylum, and even envisions killing the head doctor. His hallucinations spiral out of control, culminating in a dream where a bearded inmate marries his daughter. The film concludes with the janitor distributing masks to the inmates, symbolically providing them with happy faces .
- Masao Inoue as the Janitor
- Ayako Iijima as the Janitor’s Daughter
- Yoshie Nakagawa as the Janitor’s Wife
- Hiroshi Nemoto as the Young Man
- Misao Seki as the Doctor
- Minoru Takase as Crazy Man A
- Eiko Minami as the Dancer
- Kyôsuke Takamatsu as Crazy Man B
- Tetsu Tsuboi as Crazy Man C
- Shintarô Takiguchi as the Boy
The film A Page of Madness (1926) was considered lost for over four decades until its director, Teinosuke Kinugasa, found it in a storehouse in 1971 .
The production was underfunded, which led to the cast, including some notable names, assisting in painting sets, making props, and even sleeping on set or in the front office .
A Page of Madness was shown in cinemas specializing in foreign films, despite being a domestic film, and became an unexpected hit .
“When A Page of Madness was released, it played at a theater in Tokyo that specialized in foreign movies. Page was indeed pretty foreign compared to most other Japanese films at the time. The movie was regarded, film scholar Aaron Gerow notes, as “one of the few Japanese works to be treated as the ‘equal’ of foreign motion pictures in a culture that still looked down on domestic productions.” Yet it didn’t change the course of Japanese cinema, and it was thought of as a curiosity at a time when most films in Japan were kabuki adaptations and samurai stories.” – 
“There’s no amount of buckling up that can prepare a well-versed silent cinephile for the utter unheralded weirdness of Teinosuke Kinugasa’s A Page of Madness (Kurutta Ichipeiji).”