Film Review: Woman in the Dunes

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The movie “Woman in the Dunes” was directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara. The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name, Woman in the Dunes, written by Kobo Abe. It is the account of a man and woman’s relationship stuck in a sand pit, and is gripping in the chilling way, creating questions and raising thoughts all in subtlety.

The film starts off with the main character, the Teacher played by Eiji Okada, searching for bugs in the sand of a rural area. He finds that he must find shelter for the night. The locals take him to a sand pit, which he is lowered into and hose by a woman, played by Kyoko Kishida. When it is time to time to leave in the morning, the man finds that he is stuck in the pit until the locals lower down the ladder, however they are unwilling to do so.

The woman informs him of his inescapable prison, explaining that they are both stuck there and are essentially forced into laboring to keep the house from falling victim to the sand. The reward for such behavior is food and water.

The man does not take to the notion of being stuck, He initially refuses to help in such work, and even attempts to escape. However, he eventually succumbs to the fate of being stuck in the sand pit, and in the end, decides to stay even when given the chance to leave.

This is only a poorly detailed outline of the film, considering the its two hour length and gripping details of succumbing to the will of someone else. The director has packed much into the film from its attentions to details in the growing passion between the man and the woman to the emotional and psychological turmoil he suffers by being forced down into a hole and watched everyday.

The acting from the main characters, Eiji Okada and Kyoko Kishida, brings out the passion, anger, sadness, and longing of each person.

The film is meant to symbolize man’s loneliness and the deprivation he sense from losing himself in his environment. From from a happy ending, all that is left is the questioning of the choice of the man to stay there on his own, or his brainwashing to be conditioned to stay, no longer wanting the taste of the outside world.


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