The Naked Island (Hadaka no shima) Reviews

  • Apr 05, 2019

    Wordless but not silent, Kaneto Shindô's The Naked Island (Hadaka no shima) feels almost like ethnography as it details the (hard) lives of a family of four who live on a small rocky island in the Seto Inland Sea of Southern Japan. They carry fresh water in large wooden buckets from another island (paddling across the sea in a wooden boat) just to irrigate their crops, which seem to be dying of heatstroke on the exposed cliff face. No one speaks, they just work; the husband tends to the field while the wife carries the water and the children help to prepare meals (when they are not being ferried to school by the mother). They take turns having a bath in an old oil drum. There is an almost tactile sensuality to the widescreen images â" and the Foley artists seem to be working overtime! Indeed, it slowly becomes apparent that the sounds have been consciously selected, along with the jaunty (almost Tati-like) musical theme which changes its pace and mood along with the events portrayed. When the two sons manage to catch a fish, the family heads to the nearest town (jarringly this is a modern film, taking place in 1960 or thereabouts) for an evening out (restaurant, cable car up a mountain). A late tragedy darkens the film's tone dramatically, almost turning it to horror (a nod toward this director's later masterworks in that genre: Onibaba, 1964, and Kuroneko, 1968). Stoically (except for a brief release of tension and pain), the family continues their daily routine (wordlessly). The result is hypnotic and beautiful, but perplexing in its intentions. Why the constraint of wordlessness? Is this hard, almost Sisyphean life, a metaphor for another fruitless challenge? Regardless, it works as a pseudo-documentary of a place and lifestyle you've never seen before.

    Wordless but not silent, Kaneto Shindô's The Naked Island (Hadaka no shima) feels almost like ethnography as it details the (hard) lives of a family of four who live on a small rocky island in the Seto Inland Sea of Southern Japan. They carry fresh water in large wooden buckets from another island (paddling across the sea in a wooden boat) just to irrigate their crops, which seem to be dying of heatstroke on the exposed cliff face. No one speaks, they just work; the husband tends to the field while the wife carries the water and the children help to prepare meals (when they are not being ferried to school by the mother). They take turns having a bath in an old oil drum. There is an almost tactile sensuality to the widescreen images â" and the Foley artists seem to be working overtime! Indeed, it slowly becomes apparent that the sounds have been consciously selected, along with the jaunty (almost Tati-like) musical theme which changes its pace and mood along with the events portrayed. When the two sons manage to catch a fish, the family heads to the nearest town (jarringly this is a modern film, taking place in 1960 or thereabouts) for an evening out (restaurant, cable car up a mountain). A late tragedy darkens the film's tone dramatically, almost turning it to horror (a nod toward this director's later masterworks in that genre: Onibaba, 1964, and Kuroneko, 1968). Stoically (except for a brief release of tension and pain), the family continues their daily routine (wordlessly). The result is hypnotic and beautiful, but perplexing in its intentions. Why the constraint of wordlessness? Is this hard, almost Sisyphean life, a metaphor for another fruitless challenge? Regardless, it works as a pseudo-documentary of a place and lifestyle you've never seen before.

  • Jun 26, 2016

    What a stunning film from Kaneto Shindo! It features no dialogue and is shot like a documentary following a family of farmers that live on a barren island and their daily struggle for survival. The B&W cinematography creates some of the most beautiful images I have ever seen. The score is haunting and highly memorable. The acting is flawless. This masterpiece is highly recommended!

    What a stunning film from Kaneto Shindo! It features no dialogue and is shot like a documentary following a family of farmers that live on a barren island and their daily struggle for survival. The B&W cinematography creates some of the most beautiful images I have ever seen. The score is haunting and highly memorable. The acting is flawless. This masterpiece is highly recommended!

  • Aug 31, 2015

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  • Jun 24, 2013

    Not a word is either needed or spoken. In this film Shindo creates a unique poetic vision and portrays life and death in its purest form. Occasionally, its length makes it seem a little over indulgent, but there is no questioning the beauty of the careful photography not is it possible not to admire Shindo for his audacity in creating such a challenging work.

    Not a word is either needed or spoken. In this film Shindo creates a unique poetic vision and portrays life and death in its purest form. Occasionally, its length makes it seem a little over indulgent, but there is no questioning the beauty of the careful photography not is it possible not to admire Shindo for his audacity in creating such a challenging work.

  • Mar 22, 2013

    'The Naked Island' (1960) To start the review of 'Hadaka no shima' we have got to quote the director's own words Kaneto Shindô (who died in 2012 at the age of 100 with his last picture made at the age of 98) "This movie was made as a 'cinematic poem' to try and capture the life of human beings struggling like ants against the forces of nature." This bold art film which falls into some sort of Japanese neorealism depicts in the most simple ways nature and life as ruthless and beautiful, a mystery where mankind is thrown into without a choice and where it's only primal instinct is to survive everyday hoping for an answer. The beauty of the film is its extreme universal approach to reality reinforced by the absence of dialogue throughout the whole picture. The film is a universal moving painting..and the characters have that fine quality that makes you love them. It's maybe difficult to watch but its extremely moving and rich in details. A cinematic and poetic Masterpiece. Merits go to the director who's devoted his life in this picture like in all his movies mostly because are biographical. This movie for example is a portrait of his real parents a backdrop to a moment in Japanese history, with its ways of living and thinking that might look old and from the past but that are basic to any modern cultures touching upon existentialism and needs of communication. Shot in the 60s in B/W This movie is perfect!

    'The Naked Island' (1960) To start the review of 'Hadaka no shima' we have got to quote the director's own words Kaneto Shindô (who died in 2012 at the age of 100 with his last picture made at the age of 98) "This movie was made as a 'cinematic poem' to try and capture the life of human beings struggling like ants against the forces of nature." This bold art film which falls into some sort of Japanese neorealism depicts in the most simple ways nature and life as ruthless and beautiful, a mystery where mankind is thrown into without a choice and where it's only primal instinct is to survive everyday hoping for an answer. The beauty of the film is its extreme universal approach to reality reinforced by the absence of dialogue throughout the whole picture. The film is a universal moving painting..and the characters have that fine quality that makes you love them. It's maybe difficult to watch but its extremely moving and rich in details. A cinematic and poetic Masterpiece. Merits go to the director who's devoted his life in this picture like in all his movies mostly because are biographical. This movie for example is a portrait of his real parents a backdrop to a moment in Japanese history, with its ways of living and thinking that might look old and from the past but that are basic to any modern cultures touching upon existentialism and needs of communication. Shot in the 60s in B/W This movie is perfect!

  • Dec 20, 2012

    The cycle of life on a Japanese island; poetic and somber.

    The cycle of life on a Japanese island; poetic and somber.

  • Dec 16, 2012

    Almost no dialogue, pure cinematography... or simply: Art Cinema!

    Almost no dialogue, pure cinematography... or simply: Art Cinema!

  • Oct 12, 2012

    Pure cinematography and directing with almost no dialogue! Highly recommended for art film fans!

    Pure cinematography and directing with almost no dialogue! Highly recommended for art film fans!

  • Aug 29, 2012

    A difficult film for sure for anybody with attention problems; I can certainly imagine how pointless it might be to sit a bunch of kids down to watch this. Even I myself paused it and took a break from it twice, though I think in a cinema or elsewhere with no distractions I could happily sit engrossed in it for the whole 96 minutes. In a way it could be a silent movie, seeing as there is no dialogue whatsoever (there are voices, but only chanting or singing, which you only hear firstly about a third of the way through the film, and then again about two thirds of the way through), but all the sounds of movement, water, boats, etc., etc. would be sorely missed if I watched it silently. Theres a kind of tension between on the one hand the beauty of their location, the clean simplicity of their daily life, and also the situation of being engaged very closely and in their natural environment (for us city dwellers the closest we get is that 'the sand between your toes' feeling along with those odd instances of the satisfaction of physical work successfully carried out) with on the other hand the relentless hard work that they almost might not stay on top of, that is repeated and repeated and is hard and will always be hard. Their two sons easy ability to join in with this without question and to be equally as effective, contrasted with the odd moment when they look at the toil of their parents in some kind of awe, adds more weight to this feeling. In terms of 'events' (of course every little thing is an event really), there is maybe only one on the scale of the kind of thing we might list in other 'plots', a tragedy that occurs already 65 minutes into the film. The context given to that event by all that preceded it, that surrounds it in the life of this family, makes it wholly different to how we meet and feel about similar tragedies in other stories. It's hard to put your finger on. It's not that we're helped strongly to get to know and like the character, as in ????? [Grave of the Fireflies] because there's a distance all the time, like we're certainly outside observers and they're definitely strangers to us, but somehow we get a bigger context, where the tragedy fits in the big picture of that relentless beauty fused with that relentless hardship and stoicism. Maybe too it's an empathy that comes while we're still strangers, and that might have some power too. There is another 'event' on a milder scale, which is the catching of a fish and going to town to sell it, along with the nice, simple day out they get with some of the money. This is again evocative and confirmed for me the idea I'd already had that somehow this film reminded me of Ladri di biciclette [The Bicycle Thief]. Besides that I'd also suggest that it's similar in some vague though kind of obvious way to Koyaanisqatsi and of course it'll remind you of many Japanese films. I was reminded tangentially of ?? [Onibaba] because of the feeling of nature present, though with a different vibe, and something in how it looks, which is natural as it's the same film director. Definitely recommended, for the quiet, poetical, image-loving and patient among you.

    A difficult film for sure for anybody with attention problems; I can certainly imagine how pointless it might be to sit a bunch of kids down to watch this. Even I myself paused it and took a break from it twice, though I think in a cinema or elsewhere with no distractions I could happily sit engrossed in it for the whole 96 minutes. In a way it could be a silent movie, seeing as there is no dialogue whatsoever (there are voices, but only chanting or singing, which you only hear firstly about a third of the way through the film, and then again about two thirds of the way through), but all the sounds of movement, water, boats, etc., etc. would be sorely missed if I watched it silently. Theres a kind of tension between on the one hand the beauty of their location, the clean simplicity of their daily life, and also the situation of being engaged very closely and in their natural environment (for us city dwellers the closest we get is that 'the sand between your toes' feeling along with those odd instances of the satisfaction of physical work successfully carried out) with on the other hand the relentless hard work that they almost might not stay on top of, that is repeated and repeated and is hard and will always be hard. Their two sons easy ability to join in with this without question and to be equally as effective, contrasted with the odd moment when they look at the toil of their parents in some kind of awe, adds more weight to this feeling. In terms of 'events' (of course every little thing is an event really), there is maybe only one on the scale of the kind of thing we might list in other 'plots', a tragedy that occurs already 65 minutes into the film. The context given to that event by all that preceded it, that surrounds it in the life of this family, makes it wholly different to how we meet and feel about similar tragedies in other stories. It's hard to put your finger on. It's not that we're helped strongly to get to know and like the character, as in ????? [Grave of the Fireflies] because there's a distance all the time, like we're certainly outside observers and they're definitely strangers to us, but somehow we get a bigger context, where the tragedy fits in the big picture of that relentless beauty fused with that relentless hardship and stoicism. Maybe too it's an empathy that comes while we're still strangers, and that might have some power too. There is another 'event' on a milder scale, which is the catching of a fish and going to town to sell it, along with the nice, simple day out they get with some of the money. This is again evocative and confirmed for me the idea I'd already had that somehow this film reminded me of Ladri di biciclette [The Bicycle Thief]. Besides that I'd also suggest that it's similar in some vague though kind of obvious way to Koyaanisqatsi and of course it'll remind you of many Japanese films. I was reminded tangentially of ?? [Onibaba] because of the feeling of nature present, though with a different vibe, and something in how it looks, which is natural as it's the same film director. Definitely recommended, for the quiet, poetical, image-loving and patient among you.

  • Jun 08, 2012

    Shot entirely on and around a small deserted and without any dialogue, Kaneto's "The Naked Island" was a huge gamble for his production company, on the verge of bankruptcy. But with the attention it got internationally, the movie became a success in Japan and saved his career.

    Shot entirely on and around a small deserted and without any dialogue, Kaneto's "The Naked Island" was a huge gamble for his production company, on the verge of bankruptcy. But with the attention it got internationally, the movie became a success in Japan and saved his career.