Main content

A Man Vanishes

A Man Vanishes

One of the most important and complex works by two-time Palme d'Or winning director Shohei Imamura, A MAN VANISHES begins as an investigation into one of the thousands of missing persons cases that occur in Japan each year.

The film follows the case of Tadashi, a handsome businessman who has suddenly vanished. Imamura and his crew interview the man's fiancee, Yoshie, who is desperately searching for him, and the filmmaker becomes increasingly involved in her life. But the "investigation" casts a shadow of doubt over the couple's relationship, Tadashi's business ventures, his relationship with Yoshie's sister, and even the investigating film director, Imamura himself, who may not be what he seems.

Radical film in scope, technique, and aesthetic, A MAN VANISHES distills many of Imamura's central themes and obsessions, the film culminating a stunning sequence that explodes any stable sense of fiction and reality.

CRITICS' PICK. "If 'A Man Vanishes' - a movie about a disappearance and the transformation of reality into an ever more mercurial mystery, a vertiginous drama and the very stuff of cinema - played at the Cannes Film Festival this year, it would have been hailed as a thrilling discovery. That surely will be the response of filmgoers lucky enough to see this 1967 masterwork from the Japanese director Shohei Imamura (1926-2006)...Seemingly banal in its conceit, wildly startling in its execution, it tracks a film crew that, like a detective squad, investigates what became of an ordinary man."—Manohla Dargis, New York Times

"In a coup de cinema that has been equaled only by Abbas Kiarostami's CLOSE-UP, Imamura transforms fact into artifice, being into acting, personal identity into tenuous fabrication."—James Quandt, editor of SHOHEI IMAMURA

5/5 Stars!—Time Out New York

"One of the early and essential fact-fiction hybrids"—The Village Voice

"The explosively provocative film progressively and aggresively blurs distinctions between documentary and fiction. A MAN VANISHES was worth for the 45-year wait."—Ronnie Schieb, Variety

"Far ahead of its time."—Jeff Shannon, The Seattle Times

"A classic."—Tony Rayns, The Independent

"A true meditation on the medium with an increasing sense of unease as it slowly moves along (with echoes of Citizen Kane)...A MAN VANISHES should not be missed-or forgotten."—Film Journal International

"An existential essay on elusiveness of identity, a self-debunking bit of directorial mischief, a vertiginous travesty of a procedural, and an influential merging of life and fiction...A Man Vanishes envisions life as a tangle of subjectively staged "dramas," each complementing and contradicting the other."—Slant Magazine


Main credits

Imamura, Sh̄ohei (film director)
Urayama, Kirio (film director)

Other credits

Cinematography, Ishiguro Kenji; music, Mayuzumi Toshiro; editing by Matsuo Tanji.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Black & White
Cinema Studies
East Asia
Media Studies


A Man Vanishes; Shohei Imamura; Japan; cinema studies; documentary; disappearance; ; "A Man Vanishes"; Icarus Films; "A Man Vanishes"; Icarus Films,doc