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An overlooked (but absolute) classic, Woman In The Dunes is made up of a whole lot of different kinds of brilliance. A deliberately paced* black & white Japanese drama from 1964, it concerns a bug-hunter from the city who is forced by villagers into a giant sand pit, where a woman is similarly imprisoned. The film is brilliant on every level- gorgeous cinematography, haunting score, powerful performances, and a guiding directorial hand (that possesses just enough of a touch of the avant-garde) make it completely unforgettable.

Genre fans will appreciate the early exploitation of the modern viewers fears of hostile small towns and isolation from civilization that would become such a powerful trope in Western horror a few decades later. Make no mistake; Woman In The Dunes spends a good hour of its 147 minute runtime as a horror movie, with a frightening score, and a visual obsession with the monstrously creeping sand that constantly threatens to swallow…

Fucking see it.

*When I say deliberately paced, I mean it. The film is more concerned with exploring space and character, so why the plot is completely linear, it’s treatment of time is… inconsistent (think a less temporally aggressive Synecdoche, NY).

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