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.
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...