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THE SAGA OF ANATAHAN

Japan, 1953 (MIFF 1967)

Director: Josef von Sternberg

Sternberg's last film, made independently in Japan, is based on an actual incident and tells of fifteen soldiers and one Japanese girl marooned on a volcanic island in the Pacific for seven years, refusing to believe in Japan's defeat. It has been described as "a fascinating, sordid drama, fascinating for its emphasis on the neurotic streak in the Japanese character and its strange contradictions."

Sternberg, himself, regards Anatahan as his best film, but then, it is a very personal statement. All his actors, the director insists, are projections of himself and, as such, mere details of his decor. Nothing really happens in Anatahan; every incident is filtered through a thick veil of remembrance and regret. What ultimately interests the director is the spectacle of man's dignity crumbling before the assault of desire.

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