Woman of the Dunes (1964)

Woman of the Dunes (1964), directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara.

A teacher spends his vacation collecting insects at a remote sea-side province. Reflecting on unpleasant aspects of modern city life, he encounters some locals from a primitive village who put him up for the night with a lonely widow living in a sand pit. The next morning...

Well, leave it at that. This is such a great, weird story that I don't want to give too much away. One of those gems of world-cinema, it deserves to be better known.

I remember the Criterion DVD as having one of the finest black-and-white images of my experience, and have always hoped for a Blu-ray edition, now delivered.

Although the texture of sand is obviously a favorite subject of the camera, it less often has erotic connotations because of its inconveniently gritty feel. A skilled photographer can show us:

Extras on the Blu-ray suggest various theories of "what does it mean?" (as if stories must have comprehensible meaning) none of which are very convincing. This time, to me it seemed like the sand is the "stuff" that fills up life, your work and duties. Our teacher goes through stages of panic and rebellion (as we all do), moving into acceptance and resignation (which we must) and finally to glimmerings of love, for which we all hope.


Criterion Blu-ray.