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Life is the Pits
June 6, 2013 12:00 PM   Subscribe

"...there is never a moment when the film doesn't look absolutely realistic, and it isn't about sand anyway, but about life. 'Are you shoveling to survive, or surviving to shovel?' the man asks the woman, and who cannot ask the same question? 'Woman in the Dunes' is a modern version of the myth of Sisyphus, the man condemned by the gods to spend eternity rolling a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it roll back down." 1, 2 (NSFW: some nudity). Video essay by James Quandt. Based on the novel by Kobo Abe.
posted by seemoreglass (11 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was in some bar that had this movie projected onto a wall with no sound, just as a background thing. It was mesmerizing and I've been meaning to watch it for real, thanks for reminding me of it!
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:07 PM on June 6, 2013


I've loved this movie ever since I was lucky enough to see it at the old Cinematheque in Toronto.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:13 PM on June 6, 2013


Oh cool. Just finally watched Hiroshima Mon Amour which is incredible - maybe one of the best movies I've ever seen - also featuring Eiji Okada.
posted by latkes at 12:18 PM on June 6, 2013


This movie - and the book - really freak me out. A classmate of mine in college once said the major theme of Cowboy Bebop is the defeat of the human spirit. I disagree. The Woman in the Dunes is about the defeat of the human spirit.
posted by koucha at 12:56 PM on June 6, 2013


Abe Kobo did end up committing suicide.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:38 PM on June 6, 2013


I found the book in a library in undergrad pretty much at random and was completely blown away by it. It's an absolutely fantastic piece of work, and really the best of Abe's work (I read a lot more after Woman in the Dunes). The movie I saw once, many years ago, and I remember it being a very strong film, but really it's the book that's stuck with me...
posted by kaibutsu at 2:01 PM on June 6, 2013


I haven't seen it in a while, but it seemed to me it was more about acceptance of adversity than defeat...after all, (SPOILERS) he gets his chance to escape at the end of the film and chooses not to.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:18 PM on June 6, 2013


Reminds me of Rudyard Kipling's short story "The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes" (1885) in which a British colonist in India inadvertenly falls into a pit from which he can't escape. There are other people in the same pit and all they have to eat are crows. The colonist refuses to eat crow, until he is forced by starvation, and eats crow. Strange story.
posted by stbalbach at 2:24 PM on June 6, 2013


Otoshiana (Pitfall) is also brilliant.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:14 PM on June 6, 2013


That was the first movie we watched in my Asian and Asian American Cinema class my last semester of college--I signed up for the class to fulfill a requirement without realizing that we would get to watch a ton of anime, hong kong action movies, and also awesome stuff like this. So worth it.
posted by Tesseractive at 8:51 PM on June 6, 2013


This was by far my favourite selection in the American-Japanese comparative literature course I took in college. This is the first time I've heard anyone bring it up in the six years since then. Kudos.
posted by spamguy at 6:15 AM on June 7, 2013


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