An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
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
Harsh and beautiful analysis of existentionalism. All the Sartrean trappings along with an element of Camus are presented in this film better than any other I know. The realization that life is absurd leads the main character to venture towards trying to make meaning out of what is essentially meaninglessness. The intersubjective relationship between man and woman is examined both erotically and violently while the villagers play the crucial role of the everpresent Other. Disturbing ending only underlies the overpowering presence of the sand dunes. The sand being the strongest metaphor in the film, illustrating the belief that life is nothing but a giant and endless egg-timer flowing sand down upon us. Highly recommended.
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