Josef von Sternberg directed, photographed, provides the voice-over narration and wrote the screenplay about twelve Japanese seaman who, in June 1944, are stranded on an abandoned-and-forgotten island called An-ta-han for seven years.
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Sternberg's best film? Well, it's definitely one of his most experimental, structured like he dove into one of his fantasias and reported on it like a newsreel. It's a fine and dandy allegory for the carnality that drives civilization, though I caught myself missing the wit and rapture of his more opulent Dietrich films. Still, this is a statement of his obsession: women transcending a world run and dominated by men.
A grim and beautiful film, full of light and shadow, movement and horror, and not a little wonder at the destruction man can wreak. I don't feel embarrassed to point out the obvious and say that the jungle is a metaphor for all that's dark inside us, or that it's oddly appropriate that the image of Anatahan at the very end of it could be Mount Fuji at the beginning of any Japanese film.
A lot of praise regarding Sternberg's swan song, but all I see is an erasure of the japanese language and a disrespect towards that people... What's the point of directing a cast of talented japanese people if you're just gonna voice-over the entire thing?... Disappointing.
Very convincing tragedy showing us how civilized men increasingly revert to cavemen, given they've had to endure sufficiently long the scarcity of primary resources such as food, love from familiy and friends, but most of all: sexual intimacy. It's remarkably well done how these people are still clearly modern and cultured, but in them primal forces are addressed under the pressing circumstances. Wonderful.
A brilliant film from von Sternberg that is purposely reticent and set in a studio constructed jungle, where Japanese troops question military hierarchy and come to face their own bestial instincts. The wonderful recreation of the island is supplemented by the luminous shot of a naked Keiko that breathes life into the demoralized group. The Brechtean finale completes a unique and thoroughly original (anti)war film.
cette avant-dernière création du cinéaste, où il cumule à la fois les fonctions de réalisateur, de producteur, de scénariste, de chef-opérateur, tout en assumant lui-même la voix off de la narration, se présente comme une splendide virtuosité cinématographique, de part sa fulgurante mise en scène du rapport de l'homme au désir, de la femme à la séduction, de la civilisation face à la barbarie. www.cinefiches.com
I'd like to love it: cult, rare, based on a serious true story (12 sea fishermen "imprisoned" 7 years with one pretty girl...); but... it's long and slow and too classical/theatrical (not in a Brooks or Greenaway way) and most of time not very catchy... Lack a bit of craziness and good shootings. I know, it was 1953...