The story of a small family unit and their subsistence as the only inhabitants of an arid, sun-baked island. With hardly any dialogue, Shindô combines the stark ‘Scope cinematography of Kiyoshi Kuroda with the memorable score of his constant collaborator Hikaru Hayashi.
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The portrait of dignity. If there is a human emotion that I'd like to code and communicate, is that of dignity. As awareness in humbleness, silence in crowds, eyes not looking to photographers. Guess what, the most human of the emotions is sourced in enduring pain and not in accumulating wealth. Rarely celebrated in the 20th/21st century cultural mainstream, unless if paired with heroism. Dignity.
Man, woman, earth, water. The cinema itself as purity in its elements. A no-brainer hit in Moscow. Soil and toil. One must think of Dovzhenko. Perhaps a slight hint of I Am Cuba. But this is a lived poetics, too humble and personal to serve as a banner in the rigid marching of an ideology. Toil, here, in fact, is not heroic. It is pure necessity. There may be romance in this, but there is also the stark pitilessness.
I was accepted this film as beautiful nothing until the ending part start showing its delicacy. A meditative film about man and his ego and determination; woman and her sensitivity and expression and of course, isolation.
This sets a new standard for the saying "workin' for a livin'." The first 30 minutes reminded me of The Turin Horse: Labour. Fetch water. Repeat. BUT, turns out these people once in a while smile and do stuff for fun. Inevitably, tragedy strikes. This is a testament to humanity, to life, survival. And it's brutal. Yet another film wherein the peak moment of utmost respect from other humans is when my sobbing erupts.