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

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  25 October 1964 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 10,388 users  
Reviews: 65 user | 79 critic

An entomologist on vacation is trapped by local villagers into living with a woman whose life task is shoveling sand for them.


(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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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

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Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Kyôko Kishida and director Hiroshi Teshigahara had a number of artistic differences in the film, ranging from Kishida's character's manner of dress to her symbolic importance. Kishida wanted to portray her character as a universal "every-woman" while Teshigahara insisted that her character was uniquely Japanese. Teshigahara's vision eventually won out. 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

An unsettling paradox.
25 September 2000 | by (Bridgewater, MA, USA) – See all my reviews

This film is very eerie, disturbing, scary, and gripping. It is made in a style very similar to that of a old Twilight Zone episode. The film is about an entemoligist who takes a vacation to catch bugs in a desert area near the sea. He misses the last bus out so he spends the night in a woman's hut at the bottom of a deep pit. She is part of a slave labor group who must dig to keep the town from being burried by the sand. The next morning, he relizes that he's been trapped there for the rest of life. At first he loathes the woman. He ties her up and refuses to shovel so they will let him go. They then give him some sake, which makes him thristy. The water is all gone and the man almost dies of thirst. The man agrees to start working again. He finds that he loves the woman and actually begins to enjoy being confined. This is haunting, erotic Japanese cinema at is absolute best. Hiroshi Teshigahara is an exellent filmaker, it's almost incredible that filmaking was only a small fad of his and he was mostly interested in flower arranging. This is very much a horror film. The monster is the sand. The sand is portrayed here as an unstoppable force, a sort of Godzilla. The sand also causes strange supernatural occurances. My rating: ***** out of *****.

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