Woman in the Dunes


Drama / Thriller

IMDb Rating 8.5 10 16,002


Downloaded times
May 29, 2020


720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.32 GB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
123 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.45 GB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
123 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Prion 10 / 10 / 10

Sand: A metaphor for "usualness" generating "mental inertia."

In early 1966, when the annual Oscar nominations for best director of the year were announced, Teshigahara might have even made a wry smile. What is surprising to me today is not that a Japanese filmmaker almost unknown in the US was nominated, but that the Motion Picture Academy in 1966 had such a keen aesthetic sense as to appreciate his radical work. "Woman in the Dunes" (Suna no onna) was far ahead of its time, radiating Absolute Beauty. An entomologist (Eiji Okada) seeks lodging for the night in the dunes, and is led by the villagers to the bottom of a sandpit where he finds a widow (Kyoko Kishida) living in a shack. Next morning he discovers he can no longer climb out. He is expected to remain there and to live with the woman, who needs a man's help. Because the sand drifts into the shack without cease, shoveling sand away from the sandpit is her primary daily routine. After all attempts to escape the situation fail, he becomes accustomed to it and finds another way of life. It is almost meaningless to try to ascertain any scientific or economic logic beneath the surface of this allegorical story (written by Kobo Abe). Such hairsplitting will only make you lose the merit of this work. The primary subject of the story seems to lie in a certain passive mentality to be called "mental inertia," mental acclimation, conformity, or something like that. "Mental inertia" is caused by "usualness" (or "dailiness"), and comes to dominate the subconscious in due course. Abe and Teshigahara metaphorically depict such "usualness" as the character of sand -- usualness formed in an unusual situation. The woman has a strong mental attachment to the status quo around her; despite the cruel fact that the sand has killed her husband and daughter, she prefers to stay there and not to change her life. This is the "mental inertia" of the work. The entomologist, too. He at first thinks the whole situation surrounding the woman absurd, and tries to escape it. However, he becomes accustomed to the situation day by day, and accepts such absurdity after all. By whom is he forced to do so? The villagers? No. Himself! He chooses to return to the sandpit and stay there even when he becomes free to leave. He becomes a captive in the dunes by "mental inertia" just as he has been in the city. After seeing this work, I came to feel that many variants of "invisible sand," which might dominate our "free will," are drifting and accumulating around us without cease, whether or not we realize it. Pictures are great. The sand is living here, showing various expressions. Surely it "acts" as a main character in several impressive scenes, including an unforgettable love scene where the couple is caked with it. And, music! -- if we may call this incomparable sound work so. It not only enhances each scene fully, but also gives life to things that are not expressed in image alone. From barbaric drum music through sensual sound like the sand's "breathing," Takemistu-sound is full of imagination and magic. A perfect fusion of Image, Sound, and Subject. See "Woman in the Dunes" and die.

Reviewed by jonr-3 10 / 10 / 10

Spellbinding and creepy

I'd wanted to see this movie for years, and finally got around to it, on DVD. What a treat! I was glad to discover that the erotic element, though important, is not the predominant draw here; typically, some references to the film make it sound as though it were some forbidden erotic romp, or full of perverse sexuality. Instead I found myself wrapped up in a creepy suspense-thriller sci-fi-fantasy carried off with wit, style, and extraordinarily interesting photography (including one scene that, at least on my set, was completely black for a couple of minutes). I voted "nine" for this wonderful film, in part because it left me with a lot to think about, in part just for how well it was made. The music by Toru Takemitsu is absolutely perfect for the task, too. This is just about my favorite kind of film: one that raises important questions about human life, but not at the expense of entertainment. It's as close as I'll probably ever come to having my cake and eating it, too. Update, January 2007: I finally obtained my own DVD of this film, one with much higher quality photographic reproduction. I now marvel even more at the extraordinarily creative photography. Be sure, if you view this on DVD, not to boost your set's brightness: I can assure you the film is very, very dark on purpose. If possible, see it on a high-definition monitor. Today, I'd vote "ten."

Reviewed by Eumenides_0 10 / 10 / 10

A Parable About Human Existence

Hiroshi Teshigahara, adapting a novel by Kôbô Abe, has created a movie that portrays human existence with all the horror, irony and sensitivity that only a great artist can. It is so easy to reduce existence to a mere isolated concept, but few movies like Woman In The Dunes show the many angles from which our lives can and must be read. Before becoming a parable about human existence, however, this movie begins simply with an amateur entomologist looking for insects in sand dunes. He's on a three-day vacation and left Tokyo for a bit of peace in the countryside. Furthermore, he hopes to one day find a unique species of insect and get his name on a field guide. Then a local villager convinces him to spend the night and takes him to a decrepit house inside a sand pit; the entomologist gets there through a rope ladder and enjoys the woman's hospitality, although he finds her strange for shoveling sand into buckets all night. In the next morning he's all ready to leave but the rope ladder is gone and he realizes that he's trapped and doomed to help the woman shovel sand into buckets forever, in return for rations. There's a Greek myth, of King Sysiphus punished to carry a boulder up a slope only for it to fall down every time he was about to reach the top. It was a futile task but Sysiphus never stopped. Surely Kobo Abe got inspiration from this myth to create his story of a couple forever fighting sand dunes that continue to collapse and slide down, always threatening to devour their house and them too. The work is futile but must be done; and can't we say the same about life in general, which is fated to end sooner or later without us ever understand its purpose? Actors Eiji Okada and Kyôko Kishida (the woman in the pit) almost carry this movie alone on their shoulders. When one thinks about it, there isn't much about this movie except for two people talking and doing things. The entomologist is a person of action, decided not to give up and always planning escapes. The woman is resigned and toils because there's nothing else to do, she knows no other life. Their relationship is strange and constantly in flux: there are moments of intimacy (this movie is extremely erotic and shows some of the most beautiful nudity in a movie I've ever seen), there's tension between them, there's violence and tears. One of my favorite scenes, and one of the most disturbing in this or in any other movies, is when the entomologist asks the villagers to let him climb up the pit once in a while to walk. The villagers agree but only if he has sex with the woman in front of them - he thinks for long seconds and then tries to rape her, much to the entertainment of the villagers, looking down as if it were a show. It's a difficult scene that both actors pull off and shows how low the entomologist is able to sink in his loss of humanity. Finally I must speak about the sand. When we think of sand in cinema, we probably think of the deserts in Lawrence of Arabia. In that fine movie the sand is decoration, it's part of the location. But here it's a character in itself - it's alive, it slides, it kills, it's beautiful, it's unpredictable, it's omnipresent. The director spends a lot of time filming sand in all its behaviors. The characters never once forget it, they're always blowing it away or dusting it off their bodies. Woman In The Dunes is one of those movies that one has the chance of discovering from time to time and leaves one in awe at its simplicity of plot but complexity of emotions. It's very much a perfect movie.

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