Two years ago during the Spring semester of 2008 I was taking a course on Italian neorealism. I remember one day our teacher came into the class and found a copy of Woman In The Dunes sitting on the display equipment. I said something to the affect that we should keep it since somebody had left it behind. After class he said if I liked that movie I should track down a Japanese film called The Naked Island or simply The Island. It took till December of that year, but I got ahold of it. I watched it again today and it is still one of the most unique and beautiful films I have ever seen.
The film takes place on the island pictured above, which is part of the Japanese archipelago. A family made up of a couple and their two sons live there. They eek out an existence by growing crops and selling them in the town reachable by boat. In order to water the plants they have to carry the water in buckets tied to a brace that practically breaks their backs up to the fields planted at the top of the island. The two children do what they can to help and attend the local school.
What we see is about a year in their lives. We see them carry the water, tend the crops, harvest them, sell them, and numerous other activities. A tragedy strikes near the end of the film, but life goes on. What makes it all so powerful is that their is no dialogue whatsoever. Except for a handful of Japanese characters that tell us things like it’s Autumn now, everything is told visually. We see them do things, emotions are conveyed subtly by their bodies, and by their faces. It all comes across as very realistic and moving. If I didn’t look it up to find that these were professional actors, I would have thought they were real people.
I am going to end this review with some shots from the film. I highly recommend it.
|Carrying Water To The Crops|
|Watering The Crops|
|Taking One Of The Children To School|
|Harvesting The Crops|
|Making A Crop Delivery|
|Eating In Town|
|View Of Town From A Gondola|
|Ariel View Of The Island Top: Housing To The Right And Fields To The Left|