The Naked Island

Avant Garde Japanese movie “The Naked Island” (1960) made by Kaneto Shindo and starring Nobuko Otowa and Taiji Tonoyama. Its a movie which does not have any dialogue, not a single one. All sounds are from the background music or natural sounds of goats bleating or ducks quaking or trees swaying by or the breeze. The only times there are when some children are shown playing in a school and when Nobuko laughs once and cries twice, the second time a wailing sound. Nobuko and Taiji along with their two small kids are living in an island all by themselves, all alone with no other family around. The island does not have any water, so they have to lug the water from other islands or the mainland and carry them back rowing in their boat and climbing up the steep rocky slopes of their island holding two barrels by their shoulders. The elder kid goes to a school in mainland so Nobuko rows him to school and picks up some more water and then goes back to pick him up and again picks up some more water. They are planting some vegetables in their island for which they need fresh water to water their plants in that dry arid climate. Its tough back breaking work for both of them.

And then the elder kid falls ill, so Taiji rushes off to the mainland and runs many kilometers to locate a doctor and bring him back, rowing back and forth. Unfortunately the kid dies so his school mates come along for the funeral. The younger kid gazes longingly at the departing school children when they go back after the funeral. Nobuko almost gives up and throws down the pail of water and wails uncontrollably but her husband is stoic as usual he waits for a few seconds and then resumes the watering of the plants.

Unusual theme to a movie without a single dialogue, but the camera work and cinematography is quite brilliant. Both Nobuko and Taiji have acted well in the tough roles given to them, having to lug all those water barrels up and down a mountain. It must have been an arduous film shoot for them.

1 Comment

Filed under cinema

One response to “The Naked Island

  1. This sounds like an amazing film. Thanks for the introduction! 🙂

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