Directed by: Kaneto Shindo
Countries & Regions: Japan
Length: 93 mins
Region: Region B
Released: 24 June 2013
Cat No: EKA70102
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The Naked Island (Masters of Cinema)
Japanese drama from film-maker Kaneto Shindô. Set on a minuscule island almost entirely cut off from the Japanese mainland, the film... Read More
Kaneto Shindo's beautiful b+w 'Scope film, The Naked Island, made in 1960, is one of the few narrative sound films with barely any words. It won the Grand Prix at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1961 (presided over that year by Luchino Visconti) and was shot on the virtually deserted Setonaikai archipelago in south-west Japan.
The film chronicles the daily, silent ritual of a poor rural couple and their children living alone on an arid island without its own water supply. From dawn until dusk, their lives revolve around bringing fresh water by boat (and then back-breaking bucket work) for their crops in the baking heat. Shindo's elemental vision of a fading culture isolated from the progress of society is a bittersweet poem for his own dying ancestral vocation (farming).
Redolent of Flaherty's Man of Aran in many ways, Shindo and his small crew located to the islands for two months to shoot the film. The achingly beautiful cinematography by Kiyoshi Kuroda, and lush, memorable orchestral & choral score by longtime collaborator Hikaru Hayashi combine to create a hypnotising and moving document of people living life as they choose – from the land.
This BAFTA-nominated film was also an incredible gamble for Shindo. After poor returns at the box office on his previous film, Shindo effectively staked his company and everything he had on The Naked Island. Its success saved him from bankruptcy and allowed him to make further landmark films such as Onibaba only a few years later.
This Masters of Cinema Series DVD (#12) from Eureka has a gorgeous restored transfer in original aspect ratio (anamorphic 2.35:1); a 24-page booklet of essays and interviews, and an eye-opening full-length commentary track by the director Shindo and composer Hayashi which has been subtly translated into English and carefully subtitled especially for this release.