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Woman in the Dunes (1964)

Suna no onna (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 25 October 1964 (USA)
3:05 | Trailer

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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 »
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:
Robert Dunham
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


Haunting. Erotic. Unforgettable. 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?


Eiji Okada improvised much of the first dinner scene. See more »


Jumpei is seen from behind, adjusting his clothing after urinating at the wall of sand. When he turns around, there are no wet or discolored areas in the sand as there would be if he had actually urinated. See more »


Entomologist Niki Jumpei: Do you shovel to survive, or survive to shovel?
See more »


Featured in Music for the Movies: Tôru Takemitsu (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

An extraordinary movie that you won't EVER forget!
26 October 2003 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

'Woman In The Dunes' is a superb film adaptation of a fascinating novel by Kobo Abe. Abe was heavily influenced by Kafka and wrote several very strange and unforgettable books, but this was his masterpiece. He scripted the movie himself, and the director Hiroshi Teshigahara obviously "got" the material, so the film is also a masterpiece. It includes some of the most striking visual imagery I've ever seen, and I would have to say this movie is among the very best I've watched. Yes, it's THAT good. The two leads (Eija Okada and Kyoko Kishida) both give superb performances and there are some genuinely erotic (though not explicit) scenes between them. Okada plays an insect collector on holiday who finds himself stranded overnight in the country. Kishida is a local woman who agrees to lodge him for the night. However she lives in most unusual circumstances - in a shack surrounded by sand dunes which continually invade her home. To say anything more about what happens would be to spoil the extraordinary movie that follows. You can read it as an allegory or take it as a filmed nightmare, it's up to you, but believe me you won't EVER forget 'Woman In The Dunes'!

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