The Naked Island (1960)

The Naked Island (Hadaka no shima)
Directed by Kaneto Shindo
Written by Kaneto Shindo
Kindai Eiga Kyokai
Repeat viewing/FilmStruck


Toil is no source of shame; idleness is shame. Hesiod


This is a hypnotically beautiful movie. If people could eat scenery, these folks would have it made.

The film is dialogue-free for the first 38 minutes and virtually dialogue-free after that.  It takes place on a dry, isolated island occupied by a single family of four.  During the summer, the parents must travel to a more populated island several times a day to collect water for personal use and to water their meager crops.  One of the boys attends school on the other island.  The other occupies himself with fishing.

With the exception of a sudden moment of violence part-way through and a tragedy toward the end of the film, we simply follow the daily lives of the people through the four seasons.  It is a life of unremitting toil, whether they are fetching water or not.  Very occasionally, the family takes an outing as a special treat.

Given the lack of dialogue or story, one might think this would be very boring.  Instead, it is mesmerizing and hauntingly beautiful.  I spent my time meditating on how people can work so hard with so much grace simply to survive. Other imponderables come to mind, such as why these people remain in this place. Perhaps they have or can see no alternative.  Recommended.



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