The Naked Island – Kaneto Shindô – 1960


Hadaka No Shima CoverOriginal title: Hadaka No Shima
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Year: 1960
Directors: Kaneto Shindô
Duration: 94 min.
Genres: Drama

The Naked Island

An island inhabited by a family of four. Surrounded by an ocean of salt water, getting fresh water for daily needs and to give to what passes for crops is their main concern. That’s pretty much all that The Naked Island is about. No love story, no excitement, no special effects, no unexpected plot twists, no crime, no funny situations and no flamboyant characters. Heck, there isn’t even any dialog. So why exactly should anyone watch this? Mind you, it scores 8.4 on IMDb, so it must do something right, right?

I guess what makes this the experience it is, actually lies in its simplicity. It really gets to you. The family lives on a rock in the ocean, paddles to the mainland several times per day to get a few buckets of water, and returns. Every. Single. Day. All the while there is a town they paddle to, where one of the children goes to school and where they get their water. So why not live there? No seriously, why?! That’s what you think for the first half hour. Then being puzzled makes place for being angry. How can you do it to your children to live like this? Why put yourself through it all? And eventually it numbs you down, and you become a member of the family so to speak.

The Naked Island

At least, that’s what I make of it. Besides that, there are some other reasons to watch this film. For a start, the images of the area are simply stunning. It’s in black and white, but you could just imagine the place being featured on a holiday card. Also the lack of dialog doesn’t mean that it is a silent film. It just has no dialog, but there is ambient sound and music. The acting is very solid and the ending really gets to you. But even though I awarded The Naked Island an 4.5/5, I’m not sure I can get myself to see it again. Not in the near future anyway. I am however glad to have seen it.

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