Hiroshi Teshigahara's powerful masterpiece follows an amateur biologist who escapes the bustle of the city by studying beetles in remote sand dunes. After missing the last bus, he accepts a villager's offer to spend the night in a widow's shack at the bottom of a deep sand pit. In the morning he finds he is trapped. At first enraged, the man's hatred for the woman soon turns to searing, erotic lust. In Japanese with English subtitles.
In addition to being a celebrated milestone of Japanese cinema, Woman in the Dunes is surely one of the most sensual films ever made--not in the purely erotic sense (although eroticism is certainly a potent element), but as a work of pure cinema, in which cinematography and nature combine as powerful forces of artistic expression, melded with a timeless parable of the human condition. Dialogue is sparse and precise, submitting to dreamlike atmosphere and imagery that is genuinely universal; this is the cinematic equivalent of a prehistoric cave drawing, telling a story for all humankind.
Woeful of the trappings of civilization, a young entomologist enjoys solitary fieldwork among the dunes of an oceanside village. Missing his bus to Tokyo, he accepts an invitation to stay in the home of a young widow, whose hut lies at the bottom of an ominous sand pit. He soon realizes that he has been trapped, and that his new role as surrogate husband--helping with the Sisyphean task of shoveling the daily torrent of windblown sand--has been forced on him by a mysterious conspiracy of villagers, who supply provisions from above via rope and pulley. As time passes, the man's initial fury gives way to gradual acceptance, until life in the sand pit seems preferable to attempted escape.
Hiroshi Teshigahara was a 37-year-old novice when he made this film, which received Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Foreign Language Film. Intimately observing the emotional arc of his characters, Teshigahara incorporates sex, desperation, ingenuity, suffering, pleasure, and much more into this hypnotic visual experience (accompanied by Toru Takemitsu's masterful score), in which sand becomes the third and most dominant character. With images and sequences that are hauntingly and unforgettably evocative, Woman in the Dunes remains a truly extraordinary work of cinematic art. --Jeff Shannon
Certainly, "Woman in the Dunes" is not for everybody. But I watched it two weeks ago, and am having a difficult time forgetting it. Read morePublished on March 20 2003 by Andrew M. Schirmer
Jeff Shannon in the editorial review really does justice to this movie in his 3 paragraphs.
the "Reviewer: A viewer from Miami, Florida" misses the point. Read more
I read the book on " Woman in the Dunes " and to my amazement the producer did a wonderful job portraying the story in great detail on this DVD ! ! Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2001 by Tony L. Alexander
A quiet, surreal, psychological horror story. There is much to contemplate in this tale of an entomologist, the woman with whom he is imprisoned, and the savage villagers who... Read morePublished on May 19 2001 by David Bonesteel
I am a college student majoring in film with an emphasis or writing and directing. We had to watch this film in one of my film classes. One word: junk. Read morePublished on Dec 8 2000 by betsy ross
"Woman in the Dunes" is easily one of my most favourite films, entrancingly visual and deeply thought-provoking. Read morePublished on May 24 2000
"Woman in the Dunes" is a minor classic of Japanese cinema; beautiful to watch, intriguing, and with a superb score and sound track by Toru Takemitsu. Read morePublished on March 22 2000 by Frederick Edell
Not as profound as critics would have you believe. The story makes the basic point that prisoners sometimes come to love their prisons and never want to leave. Read morePublished on March 7 2000