Author Topic: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes  (Read 6331 times)

MartinTeller

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« on: November 21, 2011, 03:05:35 PM »
Woman in the Dunes (1964), Hiroshi Teshigahara a.ka. Suna no onna



Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara   
Written by Kb Abe and Eiko Yoshida, based on a novel by Kb Abe   
Starring Eiji Okada and Kyko Kishida

Quote from: Criterion.com
One of the sixties great international art-house sensations, Woman in the Dunes was for many the grand unveiling of the surreal, idiosyncratic worldview of Hiroshi Teshigahara. Eija Okada plays an amateur entomologist who has left Tokyo to study an unclassified species of beetle that resides in a remote, vast desert; when he misses his bus back to civilization, he is persuaded to spend the night in the home of a young widow (Kiyoko Kishida) who lives in a hut at the bottom of a sand dune. What results is one of cinemas most bristling, unnerving, and palpably erotic battles of the sexes, as well as a nightmarish depiction of everyday Sisyphean struggle, for which Teshigahara received an Academy Award nomination for best director.

IMDb
Wikipedia  WARNING: SPOILERS!
Netflix




Discussion will begin on November 27th.  Please withhold any discussion until then (I thought I could lock my own threads, but apparently not).
« Last Edit: November 21, 2011, 03:17:05 PM by MartinTeller »

MartinTeller

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Re: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2011, 07:44:55 PM »
Bumping this as a reminder!  Discussion starts on Sunday.

saltine

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Re: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2011, 08:11:32 PM »
I'm watching this now on youtube.  It's in two parts.  I'd rather see it elsewhere, but no other choice and it's a good quality dl.
Texan Down Under

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Re: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2011, 10:56:36 PM »
Let's open this sucker up for discussion!  I didn't rewatch for the sake of this thread (mainly because of Noir-vember) but it is a film from my personal top 100.  Here are my old mini-reviews:

Quote from: me, 11/14/2004
Haunting and unusual.  The cinematography was astonishing, but some scenes were way too dark. I couldn't tell what the heck was going on a lot of the time.  Rating: 8

Quote from: me, 10/5/2007
What a difference a good transfer can make.  The Image DVD I saw several years ago was dark, dark, dark.  A lot of the time you couldn't tell what the hell was going on.  The Criterion DVD is a breath of fresh air, revealing the stunning cinematography.  And even better, it's the full uncut version, more than 20 minutes longer.  I liked this film a lot the first time, this time I was blown away by it.  It's a chilling, unnerving, surreal tale of drama, horror and suspense.  But beneath that are layers upon layers of subtext, ripe for a variety of interpretations.  I feel like I could watch this a dozen times and come away with something different each time.  Rating: 10


Perhaps I will revisit it later in the week (although I do have a lot of other movies on my plate at the moment)

jbissell

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Re: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 12:43:13 AM »
I haven't been paying attention to the movie of the week discussion so it's just dumb luck that I was going through my Teshigahara Criterion box before finishing my top directors list. I actually tried to watch Woman a few years ago but never could make it more than a little ways through so I look forward to the discussion. I'll post some thoughts here in the next few days.

Jared

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Re: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2011, 01:03:25 AM »
That box set is one of the better things Criterion has done, which is really saying something.

Anyways, one thing thats always gnawed at me with Woman in the Dunes (in a good way):

also, spoilers.

Are the reasons for the "work" that our protagonist is assigned to deliberately non-sensical for the purposes of the movie?

I dont understand why the sand falling down the hill was more salty (or however they describe it) or why that matters for anything. Also at some points they say if the work isnt done, the next house downstream will be flooded with sand....while also at the same time we are led to believe he is trapped in a "bowl" like condition (if there is a downhill he isnt exactly trapped).

and if it is deliberately non-sensical, does anyone else find that to be really funny?

MartinTeller

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Re: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2011, 01:42:41 AM »
I think it's intentionally a meaningless, Sisyphusean task.

saltine

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Re: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2011, 01:51:38 AM »
I wasn't too concerned about the contrivances in the set-up.  It was inventive and maybe not so credible, but still necessary to set up the central dilemma. 

I was intrigued by the cruelty to the "old woman."  It seemed to me that the whole village depended on her, in one way or another, and yet they abused her.  I can understand withholding the water from the pair when they were not working, but why the voyeur scene?

Also I'm still thinking about the ending.  Not sure the movie earned that.  If he had pleaded for the woman's safety when she was taken away or in any way shown how committed he was to her (maybe that was clear and I missed it), then I'd be satisfied with his staying.  I can see that the research was important to him, being a scientist and all, but that didn't seem important enough to hold him in that situation.

What am I missing?  Is it all an allegory and only that?   
Texan Down Under

saltine

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Re: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2011, 01:52:20 AM »
I think it's intentionally a meaningless, Sisyphusean task.

You mean from the filmmaker's point of view or as plotted in the movie?
Texan Down Under

sdedalus

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Re: MOVIE OF THE WEEK (11/27/11): Woman in the Dunes
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2011, 03:17:19 AM »
It's an allegory for middle class life isn't it?  Wife traps the guy, meaningless job that doesn't go anywhere but  has to be done for the community to survive, eventually he believes in his trap in a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, the way we convince ourselves our compromises are essential.  Or something like that?  It's been 4 1/2 years since I saw it. 

Mostly, I remember it looking a lot like the opening 15 minutes or so of Hiroshima, mon amour: the textures of the close-up, sweaty bodies, rolling in the sand.
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