The Painter and the Thief
The Half of It
The Vast of Night
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A true oddity from Von Sternberg. The story of a naval crew stranded on a remote island whose inhabitants are one man and one woman... a "Lord of the Flies"-esque scenario where civilization gradually breaks down. The odd part? The tale is based on a Japanese novel, and the entire cast and crew is Japanese, with English narration by JVS himself. The narrator is supposedly as one of the participants, though it's never revealed which one. The whole thing has a thick dreamlike quality, aided by a haunting score from Akira Ifukube (who has a long, long resume, including a lot of Zatoichi films, a number of Toho monster movies, and most notably The Burmese Harp). For most of the cast, this was their only role, or one of a small handful. For "Queen Bee" Akemi Negishi, however, it would be the beginning of a fruitful career, including several collaborations with Kurosawa. A strange and fascinating film, with thoughtful narration.
Il fallait du courage et une certaine inconscience a un cineaste americain pour tourner un film au Japon en 1954. Ce film bricole, dont Sternberg a fait la lumiere, construit les decors, enregistre la voix-off, est tout simplement l'un des plus beaux films d'auteur de tous les temps. Il est aussi l'aboutissement d'une oeuvre toute entiere consacree a 'la femme'. Un chef d'oeuvre, s'il en existe.
A unique piece of cinema. Entirely in Japanese with no subtitles but with an American narrator explaining what is going on. The story of these Robinson Crusoes is first and foremost an ode to films shot inside studios. The jungle, the village, the island, everything is recreated in an apparently small studio and the effect is glorious. The feeling is somewhat similar to the one you get watching Moonfleet.
The observation of a group of men lost on an island is also wonderful. Nature comes back. The alpha males fight for the one woman. Overall the film is beautiful, interesting and above all extremely original. A must see.
What would've been a normal Japanese movie is twisted into a bizarre new form by von Sternberg's oblique narration. Reminiscent in many ways of Sans Soleil, which is a grand compliment, but with a decidedly melodramatic tone.
A total oddball curio here, The Saga of Anatahan. Was Josef Von Sternberg's last film, and one which apparently he was of being. I'm really not too sure what we see on the screen justifies of Von Sternberg's original finished product.
The story is about a group of a troop of Japanese soldiers that get marooned on an island on the dying days of World War II. While waiting for the rescuers that the soldiers KNOW that's coming to them, they soon discover they're not alone, and better yet, one of the two people they meet is a woman! Soon, carnal lust takes over, and man's eternal fight, lust and power, soon takes over..
Sounds pretty good, right? It would have been, except for the fact that while the actors are speaking Japanese in this, the whole thing is narrated in English, and even worse, by someone who seems to narrate action films for a living, who seems to flourish in the somewhat less exciting things that are going on screen. Another thing that bothered me about this film, is the very clumsy foreshadowing going on. Time after time, we had the narrator telling us clearly what was going to happen, eg, "This was a nice day, little did they realize one of them would be DEAD!" Oh brother. Why did they fool around with something that was fine to begin with?
As fantastic as it is utterly odd.