There's a lot of finger pointing and 2nd guessing getting this project up and running. 4 films in, I definitely think the "1 per week" schedule is simply too grueling. Film of the Month sounded like too long a time span, but from what I hear there aren't that many titles waiting in the wings. At the rate of 1 per week we'd be running low by July, with over 2 dozen movies mostly unwatched.
I am now going to reprint my review of Woman in the Dunes from Sept. 2010. If the schedule was once a month I would have fit in a rewatch and provided fresh thoughts. (Honest. Once a week clashes with my personal list of films to watch but I can fit in a title at some point during the month.)
Also, I wish zarodinu was still posting. Nobody championed Woman in the Dunes more than him. He would love that we are doing this.
I feel that this is the best movie ever made, and can't imagine it ever being dethroned. I would love to get rid of such morbid certainty.
Woman in the Dunes lives up to the hype. Sorry Tyler Durden but this is a beautiful and unique snowflake. Easy to describe the story, but near impossible to define what makes it great. I would have to start with the environment and the way it was shot. This was not just Japan in the past. It was another time and place completely. Just like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Woman in the Dunes exists on its own terms, and I was easily transported into the environment.
The film is so singular, I was surprised to learn that director Hiroshi Teshigahara made other films. This plays like the genius of a one-timer with one amazing story he needed to tell. While basically plotted, there's so much symbolism, metaphor and allegory going on it's difficult to know where to begin writing about it. And you know what? I don't care to be the guy who tries to break it all down. It feels too special to try and take apart. You either love it or you don't. I loved the way Teshigahara framed actors against the sand, making the entire predicament feel beautiful and strangely disturbing at the same time. That perfectly describes this movie... beautiful and strangely disturbing at the same time. The bugs, the house, the villagers up above and the woman in particular
I have to add that I didn't get the pristine Criterion DVD, but something of much lower quality. I can't comment how it's supposed to look, but the very high contrast image I found to enhance a lot of the scenes. The drum-beating scene with the angry villagers shot mostly with flashlights had a particularly striking look to it. My version also ran just over 2 hours, and I see there's a Director's Cut that's 25min longer. I'm interested in that because I did feel a couple of abrupt jumps from escape into acceptance. I'll be keeping an eye out for a restored print playing at a revival house, so I can see this again in full glory and bring along some friends. Woman in the Dunes is a treasure, one of the best films of the 1960's.