# HETEROTOPIAS IN CINEMA /// 砂の女 (The woman in the dunes) by Hiroshi Teshigahara

Following the previous article about the desert, let’s stay in the realm of sand with the masterpiece 砂の女 (The woman in the dunes) by Hiroshi Teshigahara directly interpreted from Kobo Abe‘s novel.
The plot dramatize the captivity of a man in a house which lays at the bottom of a sand “dwell” in which lives a woman who needs each day to extract a certain amount of sand for the nearby village and in order to maintain her house out from being swallowed by the sand. It represents a daily fight for the existence of her life environment in order to survive against the intractable process of the sand.
Whether one talks about the book or the film, the sand descriptions are absolutely splendid and even comports a kind of metaphysical aspect to some degrees.
Here is an excerpt of the novel:


Sand: an aggregate of rock fragments. Sometimes including loadstone, tinstone, or more rarely gold dust. Diameter: 2 to 1/16mm

A very clear definition indeed. In short, the sand came from fragmented rocks and was interemediate between clay and pebble. But simply calling it an intermediate substance did not provide a really satisfactory explanation. Why was it that isolated deserts and sandy terrain came into existence through the sifting out of only the sand from soil in which clay, sand, and stones were thoroughly mixed together? If a true intermediate substance were involved, the erosive action of wind and water would necessarily produce any number of intermingling intermediate forms in the range between rock and clay. However, there are in fact only three forms that can be clearly distinguished from one another: stones, sand, and clay. Furthermore, sand is sand wherever it is; strangely enough, there is almost no difference in the size of the grains whether they come from the Gobi Desert or from the beach at Enoshima. The size of the grains shows very little variation and follows a Gaussian distribution curve with a true mean of 1/8mm.
Because winds and water current flows over the land, the formation of sand is unavoidable. As long as the winds blew, the rivers flowed, and the seas stirred, sand would be born grain by grain from the earth, and like a living being it would creep everywhere. The sands never rested. Gently but surely they invaded and destroyed the surface of the earth.

Kobo Abe. 砂の女 Suna no onna (The woman in the dunes). Borzoi 1964

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