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Face/OnFace Transplants and the Ethics of the Other$
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Sharrona Pearl

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226461229

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226461533.001.0001

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Losing Face on Film

Losing Face on Film

(p.49) Chapter 3 Losing Face on Film

Sharrona Pearl

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores cinematic representations of face transplants and the fears and concerns they reveal in three films from the 1960s, The Face of Another, Eyes without a Face, and Seconds. These films, all shot post– World War II, investigate the varying cultural considerations around losing face in Japan, France, and the United States, respectively. In each film acts of radical self- transformation are punished, even if they represent an escape from the liminal state of facelessness, a state between life and death. The chapter analyzes common themes in all the films, thinking about the role of medicine and the evil doctor, the dismantling of the family, the stakes for self- transformation, the adherence to gender roles, individual and collective obligation and punishment, and the liminal space of life without a face. The journeys in these films all end up going nowhere, but there is great violence along the way, and that violence ramifies. Those seeking to alter their faces do not mourn, or heal, their conditions. They attempt to eradicate them. It doesn’t work. Not for people, not for countries, not for history. The lesson of these films is that replacement and revision don’t work.

Keywords:   Eyes Without a Face, Seconds, The Face of Another, post war, gender, surgery, medical power, self-transofrmation, cinema, international

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