Movie Review – Woman in the Dunes

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Movie Reviews
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 “Suna no onna” literally  meaning “Sand woman” is the original would have been a better title for this movie as we see a woman who’s obsessed with sand which shares a joy, sorrow, silence and above all her loneliness. But this title “Woman in the Dunes” too is apt as it gives a poetic touch to the whole movie and that’s how I viewed this movie by Avant-grade Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigara. Another reason that I could think of is the woman is not named throughout the film and we see the film from Niki’s point of view. All that he and in turn we see is the woman and the dune.


Woman in the Dunes expectedly didn’t get the Oscar it deserves. And how could it? It was one of the riskiest movies I have ever watched. The whole movie was shot is natural lighting. And whenever its night time we could hardly see anything on the screen. When he tries to escapes from the sand dune we’re lost as much as he is. It’s only the breathing and the panting Niki we hear.

Niki plays an entomologist who comes to the desert to find a rare breed of beetle which will eventually get his name in the books as a founder of rare insect. He misses the last bus from his village so accepts the offer of staying in the village for a night. Only when he gets up the next morning he finds the rope ladder gone and knows that he is trapped. What he does after it is the entire story.

Niki if he had been clever should have guessed at first place that he is about to be trapped. The villagers let him live with a lady. They call him old lady but I didn’t find her to be old enough. When Niki asks about others in the house she says that they are dead. I doubt that too. She asks him not to work on first day. He brushes aside that comment thinking it’s silly. On his first night he never takes anything seriously which eventually leads him into their trap.

On the next day when he gets up he sees one of the insect which is caught by him trapped in a glass bottle. Similar to his situation. In addition to the natural lighting everything seemed to have been taken on location. If Teshigara makes a disaster movie I don’t know how far he’d go. He definitely is a visionary.

The whole movie has sand to explain the emotions. When Niki is in fury the sand blows, when Niki is about to cry the sand slides like tear drop from the eyes, when Niki and the woman make sex there sand pattern goes wary.

It is an erotic thriller in a way. Well, what more can two persons (a man and woman) who know that they are going to be locked together forever do after a point? The first silhouette of a nude woman sleeping is superbly shot. And every time the director employs close up it’s a treat to watch. It’s extreme close up. We see the head of a moth fly at first then Niki holding an insect. The close ups are shot in a way it brings an erotic feel. When I looked at those pictures first I thought these pictures were taken by letting the insects sit on the woman’s body but I was proved wrong.

As a person who wanted to get noticed he gets thrilled when he finds out how to get water from the damp mud but using capillary action. Niki and the woman who by know had become like life partners are asked by the villagers to have sex in public so that Niki can go watch the river an hour per day. Niki who goes as far as raping the woman in front of the public as per their demand doesn’t leave the dune when he is gets a chance. He sees the rope ladder and his wooden barrel. Smiles and settles for the dune. 


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