Available on DVD !
To buy, click on link(s) below and help keep this site afloat
Always make sure of DVD-compatibility !!!
A family of four (parents Nobuko Otowa and Taiji Tonoyama, kids Shinji
Tanaka and Masanori Horimoto) live on an island that's best described as a
barren rock. They live from agriculture, but all their fields are on other
islands, and their only way to get their is by rowboat, while the kids'
school is on the mainland.
This film chronicles the hardships of the
family, from planting their seeds to harvesting the crop, all done by
hand, which is repeated in endless cycles. Everything culminates when one
of the sons falls ill, and when dad is not quick enough to get a doctor
from the mainland, he dies. Mom has a mental breakdown after this event,
but soon has to realize she can't escape the vicious circle, so she and
her husband just push on ...
From my synopsis, this film might
sound like an early example of what has to become known as world cinema:
An almost documentary look at a specific ethnic minority that celebrates
the simple things and oneness with nature, and at the same time puts
ethnological accuracy over proper storytelling.
However, this is
everything The Naked Island is not: It does not celebrate
simplicity and nature but makes thgem one of the sources for the family's
hardships, it does not care about ethnological accuracy but makes
everything it shows part of its narrative, it tells its story in a very
cinematic way through interesting camerawork, proper editing, creation of
atmosphere and the like rather than please people who want to see
ethno-kitsch, and in its conscious decision to make the film entirely
dialogue-less it gives the film a striking immediacy that couldn't have
been reached by any amount of explanations.
Granted, the film is somehow
(intentionally) slow-moving and lacks much in-your-face action, so it
might not be for everybody, but those into exceptional filmmaking who are
graced with a bit of patience will be richly rewarded.