Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna) Reviews

Page 1 of 17
May 27, 2017
I was mesmerised by this but I do gravitate to anything conceptual in nature. It's a fascinating movie about a teacher who becomes trapped by a lonely young widow who lives below sand dunes. There is a slow burning, underlying eroticism to the film- perhaps the fact that a man and a woman are essentially trapped together in a slow moving, sifting, at times hostile environment. It is a movie about life, of existing somewhere and dreaming of being elsewhere but eventually surrendering to the forces at work. You will feel like you have sand in your toes at the end of it. It's a movie that does for sand what Hitchcock did for birds!
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ April 1, 2017
If it's at all possible to know nothing about this movie before you watch it, then do so. The predicament a Japanese entomologist finds himself in will become apparent soon enough. Director Hiroshi Teshigahara and cinematographer Hiroshi Segawa do a phenomenal job of creating unforgettable images of sand through tight shots and unique camera angles, and it may make you feel hot, sticky, and somewhat claustrophobic just watching it. Eiji Okada turns in a solid performance as the entomologist, and Ky?ko Kishida is brilliant as the 'woman in the dunes' who he meets. She has accepted her fate, difficult as it is, and tries to get Okada to accept it as well.

The film reflects existential, not Zen, themes, and belongs with Camus and Beckett. Life is meaningless in this pit, there is no escape, and the day to day toil is not only a struggle, but absurd and nonsensical. There is clearly a parallel being drawn to the bugs being buried in the sand as well as struggling futilely in test tubes earlier in the movie. It also reflects man's cruelty in the bugs pinned on boards to the forced labor. The scene towards the end, where the villagers look impassively down through masks and glasses with the taiko drums pounding, demanding a lewd display, is chilling.

There are a couple of very raw erotic scenes between Okada and Kishida, heightened by the conditions they find themselves in, and notably occurring as one wipes the other down. In trying to free ourselves of this painful world and the grime it coats us with, if even for only moments, we turn to the embrace of another, and take comfort in carnal moments. It's beautiful and somewhat pathetic at the same time. Okada also experiences a moment of transcendence when he invents a water pump, and sees it as a higher achievement than his original goal of discovering a new species of beetle and having it named after him. There is humanity again, displaying intelligence in improving his lot, and vanity. It's a somewhat grim film, but there is solace in these things. Definitely worth watching.
½ January 28, 2017
I was mesmerised by this but I do gravitate to anything conceptual in nature. It's a fascinating movie about a teacher who becomes trapped by a lonely young widow who lives below sand dunes. There is a slow burning, underlying eroticism to the film- perhaps the fact that a man and a woman are essentially trapped together in a slow moving, sifting, at times hostile environment. It is a movie about life, of existing somewhere and dreaming of being elsewhere but eventually surrendering to the forces at work. You will feel like you have sand in your toes at the end of it. It's a movie that does for sand what Hitchcock did for birds!
January 26, 2017
Woman in the Dunes, otherwise known as Stockholm Syndrome: the Movie, is a film that I knew nothing about before watching. I was totally shocked when I realized what was going on. It almost felt like a Twilight Zone episode with that twist. It was easy to sympathize with the protagonist for most of the film, although I kept wondering why he couldn't articulate all the ways freedom was preferable to this woman's life. The movie dragged on a lot longer than I think it needed to, but I suppose the length helps justify that finale. I didn't really understand the society or why they behaved in certain ways, for instance the big spectator scene was just disturbing. I think the film was effective, but tough to watch. Not exactly a recipe for a film I will love. However it is definitely a well-made movie, and it evoked a feeling that allowed me to get into the mindset of the protagonist which is a tough thing to do.
January 15, 2017
Bizarre film about a man who stumbles upon the social outcasts of Japan who live in the sand dunes. He proceeds to be kidnapped because the village needs people, and forced to live with a woman who is perhaps being held prisoner by the village ? The film does not say why she lives the way that she does. A truly perplexing quasi-horror film that will challenge your philosophy and values, and make you wonder what is right and wrong. A truly unforgettable unique experience.
½ October 11, 2016
Gripping horror with such realism. Profoundly smart and battling enduring. Outstanding in both idea and performance.
September 21, 2016
A surreal film that I found relevant to many people's everyday life. Definitely recommend it - I will never view sand the same.
September 7, 2016
Without a shred of doubt, this film became one of my favorite films of all time. It's a work of art and a spectacle that is really something to behold.
July 23, 2016
The premise of the film is so simple that you don't exactly question where the story will go. For works as miserablist as this, you care about the cinematography, the soundtrack and everything decorative (which is great here, by the way). But there was an unexpected sequence: that when the villagers were attempting to humiliate the scientist and the woman together. That one lifted this slightly above a standard Nietzche affair that you could have seen from Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse.
½ May 1, 2016
Great compelling story, well acted, written and directed. Was not a fan of the music, but regardless, a great movie.
April 25, 2016
good but weird says its an allegory but of what i'm not sure maybe man vs nature
January 28, 2016
It's easy to throw around superlatives like "riveting" when referring to films that provoke a significant response from a viewer, but it's not at all excessive to refer to Woman in the Dunes as such. Although the bulk of the film takes place in a hole, Teshigahara manages to find an incredible amount of visually stunning images in the supremely limited environment, these images supported by a great, unsettling score that plays up the film's science-fiction elements.

Woman in the Dunes is, first and foremost, a simple and powerful indictment of systemic inequality, the premise involving a woman trapped in a hole, endlessly shoveling sand for the sake of the larger system a perfect encapsulation of what it's like to live at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. No matter how hard she tries, she can't climb up the loose walls of sand. If she doesn't keep working, her house will be buried by it. When a man is added to the mix, the oppression of women also comes into play. The two live together in the dirt, clinging to one another out of desperation, and begin to believe that they belong where they are, their work providing them with a purpose. Their "superiors" give them just enough to survive, as well as opiates like alcohol and cigarettes to keep them complacent. They use them as a source of amusement as well as a source of income. Although the pair gains a further understanding of their environment that makes living bearable, escape is almost never possible. While it's certainly possible to read these developments as a commentary on the futility of human existence, it proves much more rewarding to view the film as a social satire instead; either way, it's an undeniable masterpiece.
November 15, 2015
I expected a weird movie, and it wasn't really that weird, just a totally unexpected story unfolding. Very original story and very nicely made. The sense of claustrophobia comes across better than it does in "Buried" which is some feat. A real classic film for those who enjoy something different.
Robert B.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2015
Woman in the Dunes is a must-see for anyone who loves black-and-white films. The cinematography has definitely earned this film some future rewatching, for me. The other elements of the film are above par, though not the greatest; the story is compelling, though it trails off at the end. While Woman In The Dunes is like the Twilight Zone meets 1960s Japanese cinema, still it is something beyond that and warrants a high rating.
August 30, 2015
Mesmerizing cinematography, unusual and interesting plot. Definitely look forward to watching again!
July 19, 2015
In the sands of life. Quintessence of japanese avantgarde and buddish philosophy.
March 10, 2015
Capillary action. Good soundtrack.
December 17, 2014
Much like the creepiness of Blind Mountain (2007), a man goes to a rural village in search for rare bugs, and finds himself trapped in a sand valley in a house and a lonely woman. What ensues is a battle of wits, as the villagers do not want him to leave, but he has to try and escape. Featuring an invasive musical score and plenty of underscored eroticism, it feels like a fever dream instead of a drama. The slow decline of the hero's willingness to leave will haunt viewers, showing the futility of one's surroundings when one gets complacent.
December 12, 2014
This is a slow film but it is very interesting visually. The story plays out with ease and has a very surreal quality to it all.
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