9

THURSDAY

Existential cinema’s most devilish sand trap, Woman in the Dunes is the tale of a Tokyo entomologist who’s tricked by clannish villagers into entering a pit from which there is no escape. There he’s supposed to assist a fatalistic widow with the Sisyphean task of continually clearing away the sand that will otherwise envelop her—now their—subterranean home. Seen today, Hiroshi Teshigahara’s 1964 film suggests everything from the work of Beckett and Camus to The Twilight Zone and The Prisoner. If the theme is less startling than it was in the ’60s—when the movie was nominated for both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director Oscars—Woman in the Dunes hasn’t dated at all badly. The film’s palpable eroticism, skittering score, and elegant images—notable for their claustrophobic framing and extreme, almost abstract close-ups—are as vivid as the story, derived by Kôbô Abe from his own novel. It screens at 7 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. For reservations call (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)

More from WCP