A basically simple tale [from Kobo Abe's novel] takes on two profound and symbolic sides as to the very meaning of life and mankind, yet can be accepted on its own grounds as an offbeat adventure that befalls an entomologist while hunting insects in a barren sand dune part of the country.

A basically simple tale [from Kobo Abe's novel] takes on two profound and symbolic sides as to the very meaning of life and mankind, yet can be accepted on its own grounds as an offbeat adventure that befalls an entomologist while hunting insects in a barren sand dune part of the country.

Some townspeople let him down to a house set in the side of a dune cliff. Here he finds a woman living alone. But next morning the ladder he came down on has been pulled up and he is told he cannot go up but must help this woman to fill lowered buckets with sand every night.

Then the film shows the man’s attempts to escape, his rage at the woman and his finally giving in and even becoming her lover.

No matter what the meanings may be, director Hiroshi Teshigahara displays a flawless feel for texture and observation. Underneath is a pulsating, if sometimes gritty, compassion for man’s general fate and the state of his so-called liberty.

Eliji Okada is exemplary as the civilized man caught in a trap he eventually adapts, while Kyoko Kishida is touching, annoying, beguiling or irritating in turn as the simple woman who accepts her lot and can only give of herself. The sharp, contrasting black-and-white photography is perfect for the tale.

Suna No Onna

Japan

Production

Teshigahara. Director Hiroshi Teshigahara; Screenplay Kobo Abe; Camera Hiroshi Segawa; Editor F. Susui; Music Toru Takemitsu

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1964. Running time: 127 MIN.

With

Eiji Okada Kyoko Kishida Koji Mitsui Hiroko Ito Sen Yano
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