• Hiroshi Teshigahara may have never quite become a household name, but this uniquely talented Japanese filmmaker, who specialized in existential dramas peppered with surreal avant-garde touches, received a large dose of international acclaim for his 1964 Woman in the Dunes, which premiered fifty years ago this week. A strikingly photographed, Kafkaesque tale about a traveling amateur entomologist, Junpei (Hiroshima mon amour’s Eiji Okada), trapped like a bug by a widow (Kyoko Kishida) who lives at the bottom of a sand dune, Woman in the Dunes was such an art-house hit in the United States that Teshigahara earned a best director Oscar nomination—competing with such English-language cinema legends as David Lean, Robert Wise, John Schlesinger, and William Wyler. It combines a challenging use of impressionistic visuals and confined spaces with surprisingly accessible storytelling, and it brought Teshigahara’s visionary craftsmanship to a wider audience.

    Woman in the Dunes is a film of ominousness and sensuous beauty, playing as both psychological thriller and askew romantic drama. Teshigahara shot the film with all the grace, tactility, and geometric precision one would expect of a director who was as devoted to the delicate art of ikebana (flower arrangement) as he was to cinema. Watch the following clip, in which Junpei realizes that escape from this mysterious woman’s home may not easy, to get a sense of Teshigahara’s striking gift for composition.

12 comments

  • By Carplyn stolofff
    February 14, 2014
    05:08 PM

    This has been my favorite film since I saw it first, decades ago. So packed with significance. A parable. A poem. As resonant now as when I first saw it. So happy it's getting recognition.
    Reply
  • By Ryan Gibbons
    February 15, 2014
    12:48 AM

    In the last two weeks I've been almost obsessed with Teshigahara's work; what a great coincidence to see this on Criterion's front page!
    Reply
  • By Noah Abner Bowen
    February 15, 2014
    02:51 PM

    Can we get a Blu-Ray release, please?
    Reply
  • By jmiller
    February 15, 2014
    03:04 PM

    Yes, a Blu-Ray is needed!!
    Reply
  • By Sean
    February 16, 2014
    02:35 AM

    How about a Dual-Layer release so that both DVD and Blu-Ray owners can see these films that would be great!
    Reply
  • By alvareo
    February 17, 2014
    03:56 PM

    Sean, the DVD is still in print.
    Reply
  • By Adam McCann
    February 17, 2014
    04:02 PM

    Give us a blu ray please.
    Reply
  • By Sean
    February 18, 2014
    03:56 PM

    Sorry I understand I just like it both ways gotta think. But I just like those 2K and 4K transfers because of how clear there image quality is. But I rather have a DVD copy because I've got a widescreen TV or else if I try to expand it the picture on a Blu-Ray disc with a full screen format will look messed up I only buy Blu-Ray if it's in widescreen just saying. Understood.
    Reply
  • By Grethiwha
    February 18, 2014
    07:21 PM

    Amazing, amazing movie. Easily one of my favourites in the collection (and I would be ecstatic if a blu-ray was announced!!)... I personally recommend anyone who hasn't seen it go in knowing as little as possible before watching it. :)
    Reply
  • By A47
    February 19, 2014
    12:18 AM

    Writing my thesis on this.
    Reply
  • By jeffharris
    February 28, 2014
    01:47 PM

    What an incredible film! Abe, Teshigahara and Takemitsu… the perfect mix! Yes! Blu-ray!
    Reply
  • By Sergio G Spinola
    June 19, 2014
    02:15 PM

    is it the full version or the american version?
    Reply

Or using your Criterion.com account.

You are logged in to your Criterion.com account as . Log out.