Celluloid Obscurities #05: Woman in the Dunes


Woman in the Dunes, originally a novel penned by Kōbō Abe, directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, and scored by Toru Takemitsu, is a Japanese drama/thriller from 1964. The story revolves around an amateur entomologist who travels to windswept dunes on the fringes of civilized life. There on an excursion to escape his day-to-day as a school teacher, he is on the hunt for a new species of sand beetle with the hope of getting his name forever inscribed in field guides as him being the discoverer. Though when he naps a bit too long in the shell of a beached boat, he misses his bus back to Tokyo. He stays the night in a local village’s dwelling, at the bottom of a sand dune, and is provided hospitality by the only individual residing in the dilapidated abode, a woman. Unbeknownst to the beetle-catching wayfarer, the village folks led him down the sand dune pit with no way to escape. He is trapped. And it is from here that Woman in the Dunes flourishes into a mesmerizing and harsh Sisyphean tale of combating the elements and struggling to exist.

Thank you for listening. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on Woman in the Dunes below, suggest an obscure film for us to discuss in a future episode, or even provide some constructive criticism as we are always aiming to improve. Our next episode will feature our first guest on the Celluloid Obscurities series.

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All of the droning soundscapes heard behind our words are composed by Graham. You can download all of his music across his various monikers for free on his <1 Bandcamp page.

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