Lucille Carra

The Inland Sea

The Inland Sea

In 1971, author and film scholar Donald Richie published a poetic travelogue about his explorations of the islands of Japan’s Inland Sea, recording his search for traces of a traditional way of life as well as his own journey of self-discovery. Twenty years later, filmmaker Lucille Carra undertook a parallel trip inspired by Richie’s by-then-classic book, capturing images of hushed beauty and meeting people who still carried on the fading customs that Richie had observed. Interspersed with surprising detours—visits to a Frank Sinatra–loving monk, a leper colony, an ersatz temple of plywood and plaster—and woven together by Richie’s narration as well as a score by celebrated composer Toru Takemitsu, The Inland Sea is an eye-opening voyage and a profound meditation on what it means to be a foreigner.

Film Info

  • Lucille Carra
  • United States
  • 1991
  • 56 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.66:1
  • English, Japanese
  • Spine #988

Director-Approved Special Edition Features

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Hiro Narita and approved by director Lucille Carra, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with Carra
  • New conversation between filmmaker Paul Schrader and cultural critic Ian Buruma on author Donald Richie
  • Interview with Richie from 1991
  • PLUS: An essay by author Arturo Silva

New cover by Tatsuro Kiuchi

Purchase Options

Released Aug 13, 2019

Special Features

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Hiro Narita and approved by director Lucille Carra, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with Carra
  • New conversation between filmmaker Paul Schrader and cultural critic Ian Buruma on author Donald Richie
  • Interview with Richie from 1991
  • PLUS: An essay by author Arturo Silva

New cover by Tatsuro Kiuchi

The Inland Sea
Credits
Director
Lucille Carra
Adapted by
Lucille Carra
Produced by
Brian Cotnoir
Produced by
Lucille Carra
Executive producer
Gerald Carrus
Edited by
Brian Cotnoir
Written and narrated, based on his book The Inland Sea, by
Donald Richie
Cinematography by
Hiro Narita
Assistant camera
Ellen Wood
Sound
Tom Hartig
Music by
Toru Takemitsu
English translation by
Kazutoshi Tachikawa

From The Current

Donald Richie Uncovers Traces of a Lost Japan
Donald Richie Uncovers Traces of a Lost Japan

In collaboration with director Lucille Carra, the renowned writer brought his impressionistic travelogue The Inland Sea—an unusual choice for a film adaptation—to the big screen.

The Inland Sea: Invitation to the Voyage
The Inland Sea: Invitation to the Voyage

In Lucille Carra’s poetic adaptation of a classic travelogue by Donald Richie, an exploration of life in Japan’s Inland Sea becomes a path to self-discovery.

By Arturo Silva

Fresh Ears on The Inland Sea’s Exquisite Soundscapes
Fresh Ears on The Inland Sea’s Exquisite Soundscapes

Lucille Carra’s lyrical documentary got a sonic makeover when Criterion audio supervisor Ryan Hullings solved two major problems that have followed the film since its release.

By Benjamin Mercer

Explore

Toru Takemitsu

Composer

Toru Takemitsu
Toru Takemitsu

Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, known to Western listeners predominantly as the man behind the music in such iconic movies as Woman in the Dunes and Ran, was an acclaimed classical composer and music theorist well before he became one of his country’s most reliably brilliant scorers of film. A noted musical avant-gardist in midcentury Japanese intellectual circles, as influenced by jazz as by Debussy, Takemitsu first turned to feature film composing when he was commissioned (along with Masaru Sato) to write the hip, twangy-guitar-inflected score for the Ko Nakahira youth flick Crazed Fruit (1956). It wasn’t until a few years later, though, when his friend Hiroshi Teshigahara asked him to score Teshigahara’s short debut film, José Torres (1959), that Takemitsu’s career in movies truly began. The deeply sympathetic working relationship that they discovered on that project resulted in Takemitsu’s providing the haunting, instrumentally jarring themes for virtually all of Teshigahara’s subsequent output (“He was always more than a composer,” Teshigahara would recall. “He involved himself so thoroughly in every aspect of a film—script, casting, location shooting, editing, and total sound design”). Takemitsu became a go-to guy for many other major Japanese filmmakers as well, including Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri), Akira Kurosawa (Dodes’ka-den), and Nagisa Oshima (Empire of Passion); his themes remain some of the most beautiful, spectral music ever written for the screen.