Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
Woman in the Dunes
Haunting. Erotic. Unforgettable.
Jumpei Niki, a Tokyo based entomologist and educator, is in a poor seaside village collecting specimens of sand insects. As it is late in the day and as he has missed the last bus back to the city, some of the local villagers suggest that he spend the night there, they offering to find him a place to stay.
You know those times where you have to go to a party, family gathering or any other event that you really don't want to and there's no way to get out of it or escape? Woman in the Dunes is that situation, except this time you're the only one invited and instead of a nice, secure house you're stuck in a small hut surrounded by mountains of sand and limited supplies. It's brilliant.
The story follows Junpei, a school teacher who, from what I can make of it, is on a three day desert adventure to catch unique insects and escape from the irritations of his life. After some wonderful, sprawling shots of desert vistas, Junpei is soon found stuck…
''Do you shovel to survive, or survive to shovel?''
Hiroshi Teshigahara's 1964 Woman in the Dunes; the centrepiece of a Triptych including 1962's Pitfall and 1966's The Face of Another is quite a work of genius. While it's visual language and unique setting is astonishing, it is allegorically and metaphorically equally as rich and demanding of analysis.
The plot involves Jumpei Niki, a Tokyo based entomologist and school teacher being entrapped by a group of villagers in a poor seaside town. He is cast into a pit of sand which houses a woman, who seems to exist to simply keep the sand from swallowing up her abode. When he discovers that he is in-fact imprisoned as a companion for the…
A pristine wonder of cinema from the opening title sequence all the way to its closing seconds. With a score that could haunt men with the highest composure and chilling cinematography and imagery that unpacks itself for an indefinite stay in your head, Teshigahara's MASTERPIECE Woman in the Dunes is film as close to its artistic peak as it can get.
The film is truly horrific though both the most straightforward and subtle ways, and it has the purest sense of tonal style ever captured by someone other than Andrei Tarkovsky. The scenes of the steep sand cliffs collapsing with a blast as well as the scenes of the sand slowly and ominously falling down the dune are spectacular shots…
"No, no, dig up, stupid." -- Chief Clancy Wiggum
YOU! Yes you. The one reading this review. Sorry it's not really a review but it's just me telling you to watch this amazing piece of cinema. My friend and fellow LB user "Cigar" recommended me it. I promised him I would watch it this month but I was so apprehensive because of the running time. I left it until #96 of my June challenge but heres me telling you damn it was great. It was so damn captivating and the score.. haunting!!!. For the whole 147 minutes I wasn't bored for a second who woulda thought? Only 1k watches on LB? Cmon guys what are you doing! Watch the hell out of it!
Another Japanese gem from one of my favorite directors, Hiroshi Teshigahara. This piece is from another world. The visual style of the film is hypnotizing and I just love the camera work here. The whole film is like a surrealistic nightmare and I just felt so empty at the end of the film. When I put the lights back on, I feel like I'm just waking up - I'm glad I'm awake but on the other hand this is interesting nightmare so I'm a little sad and I wished that it could go on... The sound world of the film is another fantastic element (I loved the sound design and this time I really felt like I was in this…
Review first published by EyeforFilm
Teshigahara Hiroshi's film opens with the image of a strange crystal shape whose uneven enormity fills the entire screen, challenging viewers to identify what it is. The next, equally baffling shot, taken from further back, is of a pyramid-like pile of these alien rocks, still difficult to recognise in all their misshapenness. Finally, the camera pulls out to a distance, revealing that the boulders are in fact countless tiny grains of sand forming a desert dune.
It is a beautiful, mysterious sequence that foreshadows the two elements that will come to dominate the film: the microscopic scrutiny to which an apparently simple scenario and blank characters will be subjected, exposing all manner of hidden complexities;…
Who knew that sand could be such a cinematic tool? Now I want all films to have sand creeping through all of the pores of the frame, dusting on the characters, and drying everything out. Part romance, part horror, part prison escape film, part psychological thriller, this is truly as legendary as its reputation demands. I much prefer the title Sand Woman, which Sunna no onna literally translates to, but that's the only thing I would change!
"If it wanted to the sand could swallow up cities, even entire countries."
"That's strange... the ladder's gone."
Woman in the Dunes is a stunning work of art with meticulous photography, as well as ominous thriller from start to finish. I can't remember being more excited about a directors work after seeing only one film in their filmography. First of all, Teshigahara's concept for Woman in the Dunes is brilliant. Using creeping, crawling sand as an antagonist worked like a charm. Watching the shots of sand on the skin, sand slowly sliding down the dunes, and close-ups that make the audience feel trapped in the dunes along with the main character... unique and effective. And there isn't one wasted camera shot. From the opening scene to the finish, camera angles are used to near perfection. I'm extremely excited to see more of Teshigahara's work.
Total - 95%
All the promos try to paint this as some lurid erotic thing. It isn't. While there are some sensual scenes, the film is much more an exploration of identity and, really, Stockholm syndrome.
The arc of the two characters is quite fascinating.
While the woman's entire life is focused on saving her house from the encroaching sand, she also values the sand since, "if it weren't for the sand, no one would care about me." Crushing.
Orson Welles came out with The Trial two years earlier, and thought he was hot shit. Then Teshigahara does his own astounding and perfect literary adaptation of a man's absurd existential crisis: Woman in the Dunes. I was only asking myself, "How the hell did he do that?" every two minutes or so.
One of my new favorite Criterion releases because of its terrifying intimacy and total commitment to visual ideas.
Successfully made me sort of claustrophobic.. with the darkness, and the sand.
The Japanese film Woman in the Dunes is a simple story about a man on a bug-collecting expedition who stays in a small village and becomes trapped in a hole in the ground with a woman who lives in a house surrounded by sand. It’s a strange and beautiful film from the 1960s that explores existential themes as two people relate to each other and the villagers as the sand constantly blows into the hole covering them. Shot in black & white with a sparse soundtrack, it’s a poetic and enigmatic character study.
Although the movie is very well-made -- beautiful cinematography, particularly the close-ups of skin and sand; experimental style, from occasional overlapping visuals to the tense soundtrack; convincing atmosphere and set design -- I still don't feel I'm entirely on board with it. The idea of trapping a person in such a manner until he succumbs frustrates me; I was also annoyed by the passivity of the woman and especially the wickedness of the villagers. The scenario is plainly cruel, though ultimately it's fitting for the philosophies it attempts to touch upon. The whole thing just feels too set up so that it can work its way directly to its conclusion, so I don't fully buy it. That said, the strengths of this work are many and obvious, and it does linger in the mind. It's challenging, and that's well in its favor.
- 12 Angry Men
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 25th Hour
- 3 Women
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1154. An easy way of seeing how…
- The Godfather
- Seven Samurai
- The Godfather: Part II
- 12 Angry Men
most recent update - Sunday, September 14, 2014, 8:32 PM EST
The letterboxd crew has unveiled a new feature that…