Sunday, November 19, 2006

Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna) ****




Long after seeing this, the lonely shots of sand, water and wind remain in my memory. This is a haunting film that refuses to be forgotten.

The film grabs us in as soon as it begins. An entomologist (that's bug collector to you) is wandering some lonely sand dunes near the ocean. Already anyone who has appreciated films like "2001" and the Terrence Malick films for their stunning visual beauty will already be interested in this film. Hiroshi Segawa's cinematography beautifully captures the dunes in somewhat fuzzy black and white photography.

That night he is offered a place to stay by some local villagers, who have him stay with a somewhat strange woman...I'd rather not tell you more of the plot, and encourage you to avoid reading a synopsis of it. Because this is a movie, something happens that is not great news to out entomologist. Its more fun if you let the events play out in front of you however, so I'll leave it there.

...which also means I'll have to keep this review more or less pretty short. One of the most haunting images in this film involves the entomologist in ragged clothing, stumbling away in the desert, not quite sure where he's going or if he wants to get there.

Behind the camera, the entomologist is played by Eiji Okada (Hiroshima, Mon Amour), and the title role is filled by the wonderful Ky├┤ko Kishida. The film was directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, who, in a rare and great Oscar surprise, was nominated for Best Director.

I hope this film isn't too hard to find for you. However long the search, its worth seeing.

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