Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Who's that woman in the dunes?

What more can be said about Hiroshi Teshigahara's 1964 chiaroscuro classic, Woman in the Dunes? The book and film have received their fair share of warranted praise over the years.

From my personal experience... Not knowing what to expect. As a teenager. To drive alone. At night. To the big city. Telling no one. Park in a dark dead end alley. Walk a few blocks in the rain to a repertory arthouse theater. Sit spellbound for 2 hours as a mesmerizing dream unfolds onscreen. As if this experience was only for me. This vision exclusively my own. So exotic, yet so inherent. Why did the whole night feel black and white? Where did the film end and reality begin? The images did not leave me when the lights came up. I didn't even notice any lights coming up. I only remember being left with a feeling of wonder. Wondering if that evening really happened. Or was it all a dream? I think I went to see a film, but all I can remember is meeting this lonely widow. And why is there now sand in my car? I never noticed it before.

The true power of cinema (and in a wider sense, Art in general) is what it brings out of our subconscious. What we feel, is already inside of us. The lights and sound only act as emotional triggers. And everyone's experience is uniquely their own. Always to be treasured, never to be exactly duplicated again. Much like our dreams. For the film may stay the same. But we change. Therefore the personal experience does too. We can return to the classics. But never to ourselves. The experience of life and how we perceive it, is ever changing. Like the dunes.     

This film was never about words. The hypnotic images (courtesy of cinematographer Hiroshi Segawa) say so much more than words could ever hope to. Steal yourself a moment and scroll down the page. It's dark, you're alone, and no one knows you're here. And if tonight, you find sand in your shoes.... smile, and keep it to yourself. 

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