The Naked Island: Kaneto Shindo’s Daring Experiment

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — May 19, 2016

Japanese director Kaneto Shindo was one of the most inventive filmmakers of his time, and he repeatedly pushed the limits of cinema in both form and subject matter. This dedication to experimentation is exemplified by his 1960 film The Naked Island, in which he created a nearly dialogue-free portrait of a family living on a remote island that amalgamates documentary-like realism with mesmerizing cinematography. Lensed by Shindo’s frequent collaborator Kiyomi Kuroda and starring his longtime muse (and eventual wife) Nobuko Otowa, the resulting film is a poetic masterwork that remains one of the director’s most celebrated films.

But in the late 1950s, when he chose to make such an experimental work, Shindo was taking a great chance, putting the fate of his struggling production company Kindai Eiga Kyokai on the line. In the clip below, excerpted from a new program on our Blu-ray and DVD release, film scholar Akira Mizuta Lippit expands on the daring nature of Shindo’s work and how his biggest risk became one of his most rewarding efforts.