|Woman in the Dunes|
|Directed by||Hiroshi Teshigahara|
|Screenplay by||Kōbō Abe|
|Based on|| The Woman in the Dunes |
by Kōbō Abe
|Edited by||Fusako Shuzui|
|Music by||Toru Takemitsu|
Woman in the Dunes or Woman of the Dunes (砂の女, Suna no Onna, "Sand woman") is a 1964 Japanese New Wave drama directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, starring Eiji Okada as an entomologist searching for insects and Kyōko Kishida as the titular woman. It received positive critical reviews and was nominated for two Academy Awards. The screenplay for the film was adapted by Kōbō Abe from his 1962 novel.
School teacher and amateur entomologist Niki Junpei leaves Tokyo on a beach expedition to collect tiger beetles and other insects that live in sandy soil. After a long day of searching, Junpei misses the last bus ride back to town. A village elder and some of his fellow local villagers suggest that he stay the night at their village. Junpei agrees and is guided down a rope ladder to a hut at the bottom of a sand dune, the home of a young woman. Junpei learns that she lost her husband and daughter in a sandstorm a year ago and now lives alone; their bodies are said to be buried under the sand somewhere near the hut. After dinner, the woman goes outside to shovel the sand into buckets, which the villagers reel in from the top of the dune. Junpei offers to help but she refuses, telling him that he is a guest and there is no need for him to help on the first day.
The next morning, Junpei gets ready to leave as he has must return to his job in Tokyo, but finds that the rope ladder has been pulled up. Unable to escape as the sand surrounding the hut is too steep and does not give him enough grip to climb up, he quickly realises that he is trapped and expected to live with the woman and assist her in digging sand, which is sold to cement manufacturers, in exchange for food and water. Junpei begrudgingly accepts his role, which the woman has long accepted without question.
Junpei becomes the widow's lover but hopes to escape from the dune. One evening, using an improvised grappling hook, he escapes from the sand dune and runs away, the villagers in pursuit. Junpei is unfamiliar with the geography of the area and becomes trapped in quicksand. The villagers free and return him to the hut.
Eventually, Junpei resigns himself to his situation but requests time to see the nearby sea; in exchange, he needs to have sex with the woman while the villagers watch. Junpei agrees but she refuses and fends him off. Through his persistent effort to trap a crow as a messenger, he discovers a way to draw water from the damp sand at night by capillary action and becomes absorbed in perfecting the technique. When it is discovered that the woman is ill from an ectopic pregnancy, the villagers take her to a doctor, leaving the rope ladder down when they go. Junpei instead chooses to stay, telling himself that he can still attempt to escape after showing the villagers his method of water production. The film's final shot is of a police report that shows that Junpei has been missing for seven years and declared as having disappeared.
Prior to the production of Woman in the Dunes, Hiroshi Teshigahara directed Pitfall (おとし穴, Otoshiana), a.k.a. The Pitfall and Kashi To Kodomo, which was written by Kōbō Abe. Pitfall was Teshigahara's first feature, and the first of his four film collaborations with Abe and Takemitsu.
With a run time of 123 minutes / 147 minutes (director's cut), the film was shot in 35 mm negative format by Hiroshi Segawa, the director of photography.
Woman in the Dunes was shot on location at Tottori Sand Dunes, Tottori Prefecture, Japan. They form the only large dune system in Japan. The dunes were created by sediment deposits carried from the Chūgoku Mountains by the Sendai River into the Sea of Japan.
The roadshow version of Woman in the Dunes was released in Japan on February 15, 1964 where it was distributed by Toho.The general release for Woman in the Dunes in Japan was April 18, 1964; the film was cut to 127 minutes.
The film was released in the United States by Pathe Contemporary Films with English subtitles on September 17, 1964.The film ran at 127 minutes. The film was also featured in the New York Film Festival on September 16, 1964.
The film was also featured in several other film festivals across the world such as the Cannes Film Festival in France, Adelaide Film Festival in Australia, and Clasicos del Cine Japones in Argentina on November 21, 2000.
The Criterion Collection released a DVD box set collecting Woman in the Dunes in its original length along with Teshigahara's Pitfall and The Face of Another in 2007. This release is now out of print.In August 2016, Criterion released the film as a stand-alone Blu-ray with a brand new high definition transfer.
The film has a rating of 100% on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 27 critical reviews with an average rating of 8.5/10.It was one of Russian film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky's ten favorite movies.
Roger Ebert inducted Woman in the Dunes into his Great Movies list in 1998. Viewing the work as a retelling of the Sisyphus myth, he wrote, "There has never been sand photography like this (no, not even in "Lawrence of Arabia"), and by anchoring the story so firmly in this tangible physical reality, the cinematographer, Hiroshi Segawa, helps the director pull off the difficult feat of telling a parable as if it is really happening."Strictly Film School describes it as "a spare and haunting allegory for human existence". According to Max Tessier, the main theme of the film is the desire to escape from society. The film's composer, Toru Takemitsu, was praised. Nathaniel Thompson wrote, "[Takemitsu's] often jarring, experimental music here is almost a character unto itself, insinuating itself into the fabric of the celluloid as imperceptibly as the sand." Ebert also stated that the score "doesn't underline the action but mocks it, with high, plaintive notes, harsh, like a metallic wind."
The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1964 Cannes Film Festivaland, somewhat unusually for an avant-garde film, was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in the same year (losing to Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow ). In 1965, Teshigahara was nominated for the Best Director Oscar (losing to Robert Wise for The Sound of Music ). In 1967, the film won the Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association.
Hiroshi Teshigahara was a Japanese avant-garde filmmaker and artist from the Japanese New Wave era. He is best known for the 1964 film Woman in the Dunes. He is also known for directing other titles such as The Face of Another (1966), Natsu No Heitai, and Pitfall (1962) which was Teshigahara's directorial debut. He has been called "one of the most acclaimed Japanese directors of all time". Teshigahara is the first person of Asian descent to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, accomplishing this in 1964 for his work on Woman in the Dunes. Apart from being a filmmaker, Teshigahara also practiced other arts, such as calligraphy, pottery, painting, opera and ikebana.
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is a 1985 American biographical drama film co-written and directed by Paul Schrader. The film is based on the life and work of Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, interweaving episodes from his life with dramatizations of segments from his books The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoko's House, and Runaway Horses. Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas were executive producers of the film.
Kwaidan is a 1965 Japanese anthology horror film directed by Masaki Kobayashi. It is based on stories from Lafcadio Hearn's collections of Japanese folk tales, mainly Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904), for which it is named. The film consists of four separate and unrelated stories. Kwaidan is an archaic transliteration of the term kaidan, meaning "ghost story". The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
Tatsuya Nakadai is a Japanese film actor famous for the wide variety of characters he has portrayed and many collaborations with famous Japanese film directors.
An Autumn Afternoon is a 1962 Japanese drama film directed by Yasujirō Ozu for Shochiku Films. It stars Ozu regular Chishū Ryū as the patriarch of the Hirayama family who eventually realises that he has a duty to arrange a marriage for his daughter Michiko. It was Ozu's last film; he died the following year on the day he turned 60.
East Asian cinema is cinema produced in East Asia or by people from this region. It is part of Asian cinema, which in turn is part of world cinema. "World cinema" is used in the English-speaking world to refer to all foreign language films.
Eiji Okada was a Japanese film actor from Chōshi, Chiba. Okada served in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II and was a miner and traveling salesman before becoming an actor.
The Face of Another is a 1966 Japanese New Wave film directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara and based on the 1964 novel of the same name written by Kōbō Abe. The story follows engineer Okuyama, who suffered severe facial burns in a work-related accident and is given a new face in the form of a lifelike mask.
The Japanese New Wave is a group of loosely-connected Japanese filmmakers during the late 1950s and into the 1970s. Although they did not make up a coherent movement, these artists shared a rejection of traditions and conventions of classical Japanese cinema in favor of more challenging works, both thematically and formally. Coming to the fore in a time of national social change and unrest, the films made in this wave dealt with taboo subject matter, including sexual violence, radicalism, youth culture and deliquency, Korean discrimination, queerness, and the aftermath of World War II. They also adopted more unorthodox and experimental approaches to composition, editing and narrative.
Pitfall, a.k.a. The Pitfall and Kashi To Kodomo, is a 1962 Japanese film directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, written by Kōbō Abe. It was Teshigahara's first feature, and the first of his four film collaborations with Abe, the others being Woman in the Dunes, The Face of Another and The Ruined Map. Unlike the others, which are based on novels by Abe, Pitfall was originally a television play called Purgatory (Rengoku). The film has been included in The Criterion Collection.
Kyōko Kishida was a Japanese actress, voice actress, and writer of children's books.
Rikyu is Hiroshi Teshigahara's film about the 16th century master of the Japanese tea ceremony, Sen no Rikyū. The film was adapted from the novel of Yaeko Nogami.
The 17th Cannes Film Festival was held from 29 April to 14 May 1964. On this occasion, the Palme d’Or was renamed "Grand Prix du Festival International du Film", a name that remained in use through 1974, after which it became the Palme d'Or again.
A.K. is a 1985 French documentary film directed by Chris Marker about the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Though it was filmed while Kurosawa was working on Ran, the film focuses more on Kurosawa's remote but polite personality than on the making of the film. The film is sometimes seen as being reflective of Marker's fascination with Japanese culture, which he also drew on for one of his best-known films, Sans Soleil. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.
Kō Nakahira (1926-1978) was a Japanese film director. He joined Shochiku film company as an assistant director in 1949. In 1954, he moved to Nikkatsu film company and made his director debut with the film Kurutta kajitsu in 1956. Born in 1926 in Tokyo, Nakahira directed 34 films between 1956 and 1975. His 1971 film Yami no naka no chimimoryo was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Still Walking is a 2008 Japanese film edited, written, and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. The film is a portrait of a family over roughly 24 hours as they commemorate the death of the eldest son. The film was widely praised by critics and won the Golden Astor for Best Film at the 2008 Mar del Plata International Film Festival.
Dragnet Girl is a 1933 Japanese silent gangster film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. Written by Tadao Ikeda, the film tells the story of a gangster and his girlfriend finding redemption through the actions of an innocent girl and her not-so-innocent brother.
The Woman in the Dunes is a novel by the Japanese writer Kōbō Abe, published in 1962. It won the 1962 Yomiuri Prize for literature, and an English translation and a film adaptation appeared in 1964.
Kōji Mitsui was a Japanese movie, TV, and stage actor. He appeared in more than 150 films from 1925 to 1975, including 29 of Kinema Junpo’s annual Top-10 winners and three of its Top-10 best Japanese films of all time.
The Woman in the Dunes is a 2000 concept album by Steven Severin, formerly of Siouxsie and the Banshees. The album provides an alternative soundscape inspired by Hiroshi Teshigahara's 1964 film version of Japanese existentialist writer Kōbō Abe's novel The Woman in the Dunes. The original soundtrack to the Teshigahara film was provided by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.