The Saga of Anatahan


Time Out says

Sternberg's last film was made in a Japanese studio, and drawn from a factual incident: a dozen Japanese merchant seamen were shipwrecked on Anatahan in 1944, and found a man and woman living on the island; by the time they were persuaded that World War II was over, in 1951, five men had died in fights over the woman. If the material is fascinating, the treatment is just amazing. Sternberg respects what's known of the historical truth, but uses it as a point of entry to darker, more dangerous areas. Sequences of dream-like abstraction and images of staggering beauty are recognisably the work of the man who created the image of Marlene Dietrich, but here they go way beyond Hollywood evasions and compromises. The surface perfection seems a little remote at first sight, but the film works subversively by implicating its audience in the patterns of desire and violence, discipline and surrender. It's brilliant. When was the last time you felt stark naked after a movie?

By: TR


Release details

90 mins

Cast and crew

Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg
Akemi Negishi
Tadashi Suganuma
Kisaburo Sawamura
Shoji Nakayama
Jun Fujikawa
Josef von Sternberg
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