Suna no onna / Woman in the Dunes (1964) Criterion Collection
Japanese schoolteacher and entomologist Niki Junpei (Eiji Okada, Lady Snowblood) wanders into the desert to examine the sand dunes and collect insects. He pauses to take a nap, loses track of time and misses the last bus home. A local man offers to give Junpei shelter, and leads him to the home of a woman (Kyoko Kishida, The Human Condition) whose home is located in the middle of a large sand quarry. Junpei spends the evening talking to the woman, and learns that she is a widow: her husband and child were killed by a sandstorm. She spends her days digging sand: partially because the village sells it to be used in concrete, and partially to prevent her home from being buried.

The next morning, Junpei discovers that he’s walked into a trap: the rope ladder he used to descend into the quarry has been removed by the villagers, and climbing out proves a futile endeavor. He interrogates the woman, who has no real answers for him. At first he tries to escape, but the walls of sand only crumble beneath him. As the man realizes the extent of his enslavement, the relationship between the two becomes both bitterly antagonistic and erotically dependent. Resigned to displacing sand that will only be redeposited the following morning, the man struggles to find some meaning in his torturous existence...

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Cast: Eiji Okada, Kyoko Kishida, Hiroko Ito
Country: Japan
Genre: Drama, Thriller


Video Essay - in this archival video essay, James Quandt of the Cinematheque Ontario (now TIFF Cinematheque) discusses the major themes in Woman in the Dunes, some different interpretations of its message, its visual style, and reception and reputation. The essay was created exclusively for Criterion in 2007. In English, not subtitled. (30 min, 1080i).

Teshigahara and Abe - this archival documentary film takes a closer look at the professional relationship between director Hiroshi Teshigahara and writer Kobo Abe and the state of the Japanese film industry during the 1960s. Included in it are clips from various archival interviews with film programmer and professor Richard Pena, film scholar Tadao Sato, film scholar Donald Richie, screenwriter John Nathan, set designer Arata Isozaki, and producer Noriko Nomura. The interviews were conducted exclusively for Criterion in 2006. In English and Japanese, with optional English subtitles where necessary. (35 min, 1080i).

1. New modernist cinema
2. Sofu Teshigahara
3. Sogetsu rumpus room
4. Unique collaboration
5. Existentialist leanings
6. Tradition and discovery

Shorts - presented here are four short films directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara.

1. Hokusai (1953) -- Hiroshi Teshigahara's fist short film about the life and legacy of wood-block artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). B/W. In Japanese, with optional English subtitles. (23 min, 1080p).

2. Ikebana (1956) - this short film promotes the work the Sogetsu School of Ikebana and its founder and grand master, Sofu Teshigahara (father of the director). Color. In Japanese, with optional English subtitles. (33 min, 1080p).

3. Tokyo 1958 (1958) - during the same year this documentary was made, Tokyo was the largest city in the world. Hiroshi Teshigahara and eight other filmmakers attempted to capture its rhythm and atmosphere on film. Color. In Japanese, English, and French, with optional English subtitles where necessary. (24 min, 1080p).

4. Ako (1965) - this short film, also known as White Morning, about a 16-year-old Japanese girl and her friends was part of the omnibus La fleur de l'age, ou Les adolescentes, which was commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada. In Japanese, with optional English subtitles. (29 min, 1080p).

Trailer - original trailer for Woman in the Dunes. In Japanese, with optional English subtitles. (3 min, 1080p).

BD50 | 1080p AVC | 02:27:23 | 44.4 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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