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Hiroshi Teshigahara

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Year Title Rating
1962 Pitfall 7.5/10
1964 Woman in the Dunes 9/10
1966 The Face of Another 8/10
1968 The Man Without a Map 7/10
1972 >>Summer Soldiers .../...
1984 >>Antonio Gaudi .../...
1989 >>Rikyu .../...
1992 >>Basara: The Princess Goh .../...

Review last updated: August 21, 2017


My interpretation of Woman in the Dunes: The entomologist is the working class. The village council is the handful of billionaires in capitalism. The rations delivered down are wages, and the barely-livable resources given to the working class. The house in the dune is constantly being ruined and at risk of caving in. The only way to keep the house from caving in is by digging, which is what gives the employers a profit. When the man tries to run away, capitalism pushes him back in his isolated hole. When he escapes his situation (slavery, human trafficking), the village council of capitalists throws him back in the pit. Notice the symbolism in the following events: The crowd of onlookers demanding sex, the talk of a radio to use as a diversion, the inclusion of cigarettes and alcohol with the rations. And finally, notice how the entomologist decides to stay in the pit, at the end of the film, when he has the opportunity to escape, unsupervised. The refusal to work is quickly realized by the characters as futile and pointless, not to mention of zero consequence to the captors. This metaphor is stuck in my brain when I watch this film. Even if I stop talking about the symbolism, I could talk about how satisfying this movie is to look at forever. Not to mention the pacing of the film, which is masterful. Everything about this is perfect. It is one of my personal masterpieces.

Another interpretation I have: The house in the dunes is a symbol of self, the falling rocks and sand represent waves of depression and isolation, keeping people introverted and unhappy. The woman's presence could either represent a relationship or two sides of one person. A person can love oneself, and a person can hate oneself. The outside world (the individuals in one's life) may be keeping that person isolated, as if by a force, or by the person's own lack of awareness of their mistakes. The urge to actually socialize, and break free of your own self-inflicted isolation, and try to connect with people, is quickly realized as pointless and futile. I am not as fascinated with this one as I am with the first interpretation (though I may become later), but it is still valid and draws noticeable parallels.

Even if you don't have any interpretation, and just watch as this captive slave has to work for months and months without break, his old life completely abandoned and dissipated, you will still be struck by the pure feelings of despair and hopelessness this movie instills in you. It is fantastic.