Woman in the Dunes

Deadly Japanese movie “Woman in the Dunes” (1964) directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara and starring Kyoko Kishida and Eiji Okada among others. Niki Junpei (Eiji Okada) is an amateur entomologist and a school teacher on a three day trip to collect some beetle samples in the desert. He hopes to locate a tiger beetle in order to make his name known. It becomes late and he misses the last bus for the day. The villagers offer to take him to a house to provide for the night and he becomes elated at that. So they take him and drop him to the bottom of a sand pit, where a house is situated and the widow (Kyoko Kishida) who has no name in the movie offers to provide dinner for him. Junpei is happy with that arrangement and shows off his collection of insects and beetles. In the night he finds the lady shoveling the sand into buckets which are then hauled up by the villagers. When asked why she is doing it, she says otherwise the sand will swallow us. Apparently her husband and daughter were buried in a sandstorm. Next day comes and Junpei finds that the ladder is gone, it is a drop down ladder from above, and until the villagers come he will not be able to leave the place. Slowly one day becomes into three and desperation comes upon Junpei to find himself trapped down in the sand pit while he is a respected school teacher in his own right. He tries to escape a couple of times, but is unsuccessful due to the nature of the sand, he gets no grips anywhere. Slowly it becomes three months and then six months still he is unable to escape. Once he does get abroad through his ingenuity but gets lost in the desert and gets trapped in a quicksand from which he has to be rescued by the villagers. He then tries a crow trap, to trap the crow the then tie in a message to the crow’s legs, but to his bad luck, no crow gets trapped. In the meanwhile, life goes on drearily in the hut, with immense heat, sand all over the place, very little water and food, unbearable thirst and despondency for Junpei. The lady is taking it all in her stride, having resigned herself to the life in the sand pit. Deadly movie this one, breathtaking cinematography and photography with immensely close up shots of sand on the lady’s body. The music score is brilliant by Toru Takemitsu. How did they manage to shoot this movie is a mystery with the sand constantly threatening to rip everything apart and bury them under an avalanche. Both Okada and Kishida have done memorable roles for their part in the movie. Junpei accidently discovers clear water in a closed trapped tub, which reveals his scientific temper and makes notes for presentation to the world. He realises he is upon something great and thinks that the villagers will benefit from this. This despite the villagers having trapped him and ruined his life. Brilliant movie for the true movie connoisseur.

Leave a comment

Filed under cinema, Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s