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

 -  Drama | Thriller  -  25 October 1964 (USA)
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 8,978 users  
Reviews: 59 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, and eventually develops strong feelings for her.

Writers:

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

Woman in the Dunes (1964) on IMDb 8.3/10

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

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Entomologist Niki Jumpei
...
Woman
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
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

The most provocative picture ever made. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 October 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Woman in the Dunes  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Entomologist Niki Jumpei: The certificates we use to make certain of one another: contracts, licenses, ID cards, permits, deeds, certifications, registrations, carry permits, union cards, testimonials, bills, IOUs, temporary permits, letters of consent, income statements, certificates of custody, even proof of pedigree. Is that all of them? Have I forgotten any? Men and women are slaves to their fear of being cheated. In turn they dream up new certificates to prove their innocence.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Histoire(s) du cinéma: Les signes parmi nous (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Zen and the City
6 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In my interpretation this movie is a reflection on Zen philosophy: Just like Zen monks that sweep the courtyards of monasteries and devote themselves to the most humble tasks to find inner harmony, Niki finds inner rest in the daily work of removing the sand, solving water supply problems and living a confined live. The movie suggests the modern lives we live in the big cities isolate us from our needs and ourselves. Just like a Zen garden, that is designed to mirror nature and men, the people in the dunes reflect our daily struggles and confinements. The surreal setting is a necessity to convey the message of the film. There is nothing goofy about the pits and how people behave in there. It is just hard for us western people to see the transcendence there.

I watched this movie on a Japanese Film Festival in Berlin in 1993. I can't remember all the details but the movie really mesmerized me. It is a very unique work and I wonder why it doesn't have the cult status of other movies.


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