Repertory Picks

An Erotic Nightmare at Berkeley

On Film / In Theaters — Jan 18, 2018

Tomorrow evening, the Bay Area’s Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will start the weekend with one of the great art-house films of the sixties, as the theater threads up a 35 mm print of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes. The 1964 film—the second of four remarkable collaborations between Teshigahara, writer Kobo Abe, and composer Toru Takemitsu—journeys through nightmarishly surreal terrain, tracking the story of an entomologist (Eiji Okada) marooned in the desert, where he becomes trapped with a young widow (Kyoko Kishida) in the sandpit where she lives. Teshigahara would go on to earn a best director Oscar nomination for his potent staging of the existential action and his visual acuity in evoking the fine-grained textures of a landscape ribboned with sand. In her liner essay for our edition of the film, scholar Audie Bock writes that the filmmaker—who also worked as a potter, and was heir to a prestigious flower-arrangement school—instills Woman in the Dunes with “the full force of his nonverbal artistry of chiaroscuro, of shapes and surfaces, of speed and languor.”