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Woman in the Dunes (1964)
"Suna no onna" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  25 October 1964 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 10,209 users  
Reviews: 64 user | 79 critic

An entomologist searching for insects by the seaside is trapped by local villagers into living with a widow whose life task is digging up sand for them. He eventually develops strong feelings for her as his hope for escape dims.


(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Woman in the Dunes (1964)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Hiroko Itô ...
Entomologist's wife (in flashbacks)
Kôji Mitsui
Sen Yano
Ginzô Sekiguchi
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kiyohiko Ichihara
Hideo Kanze
Hiroyuki Nishimoto
Tamotsu Tamura


Jumpei Niki, a Tokyo based entomologist and educator, is in a poor seaside village collecting specimens of sand insects. As it is late in the day and as he has missed the last bus back to the city, some of the local villagers suggest that he spend the night there, they offering to find him a place to stay. That place is the home of a young woman, whose house is located at the bottom of a sand pit accessible only by ladder. He later learns that the woman's husband and child died in a sandstorm, their undiscovered bodies buried somewhere near the house. The next morning as he tries to leave, he finds that the ladder is gone - he realizing that the ladder he climbed down was a rope ladder which is anchored above the pit - meaning that he is trapped with the young woman as the walls of the pit are sand with no grip. He also realizes that this entrapment was the villagers and the young woman's plan for him to stay there permanently to be her helper in the never-ending task of digging out ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The most provocative picture ever made. See more »


Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 October 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Woman in the Dunes  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At one point, the entomologist collects an antlion. This insect is from the family Myrmeleontidae. The larval stage is often called a "doodlebug" in the United States. The insect ensnares its prey by digging out a pit in loose sand. When the prey falls into the pit, it is unable to get out and becomes food for the antlion. This is symbolic of the situation the entomologist himself encounters when he is trapped in the sand pit. See more »


Woman: But... aren't the girls in Tokyo prettier than me?
Entomologist Niki Jumpei: Nonsense!
See more »


Referenced in I Like Killing Flies (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Slow pacing, yet intensly gripping!
16 July 2001 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

What is heralded as a classic piece of Japanese cinema and I suppose a rave at Cannes during it's time, Woman In the Dunes is a great film but certainly not to everyones tastes.

A man who is searching for a unique insect in a sandy dessert area ends up trapped in a sandpit where a young woman lives. It becomes apparant that while the man can not escape the woman decides this is her future and that there is little she can do but accept it.

The film is an old black and white film, and many a times it is hard to see what is going on. The story is slow paced, and there is a lot of confusion through much of the film as to why the characters are in this 'unusual' situation. However, I completely got into it and was absorbed by the man who was felt trapped like an animal, and the woman who was accepting of her fate and somewhat comfortable. Also the shots of the dunes are spectacular, the film feels totaly claustrophobic, and it's one of this films which you keep asking yourself every 5 minutes, "How the heck did the film this!?".

But because of its slow nature and somewhat snail pacing and payoff many might not like it. Too bad.

Rating 8 out of 10.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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