Microscopic View / by HUA SHANG

In Abe’s book Woman in the Dunes, he deconstructs the world in reality, restructures the components to a new landscape, and lures the readers with his poetic languages to look into this new landscape from his microscopic view.


The film, with its greater capacities for “isolating physical data and reaching their climax in representing it” (Kracauer, Theory of Film, p.298), adds to visualize Abe’s microscopic view of world. The film version of Woman in the Dues opens with a microscopic close-up of sand grains. With their cameras, Filmmakers represent the sand by deconstructing it to diverse minerals. This opening scene, like a nutrition facts label, introduces the microscopic nature of the world that Jumpei presents in. Moreover, the film’s visual images further enrich the textual feature of many elements in the book: the water, the sand, and especially the skin. The microscopic close-up of the skin maximizes the sexual tension between the man and the woman. Now, the skin truly becomes an individual force powerfully penetrating protagonists’ and viewers’ senses.

Woman in the Dunes is loaded with symbols. To balance such symbolic heaviness, Abe strings all his carefully carved metaphors with a straightforward storyline; Teshigahara unfolds the story in a single location with simple yet vibrating images; and Takemitsu injects souls to these images and make them dance with his minimalist abstract painting-liked musical language. Viewers, lured by forces of all these languages, look deeper and deeper into this microscopic landscape. Some unfortunate fellows may end up trapping inside this landscape, essentially a mind maze built up by artists’ languages, just like Jumpei is trapped in the bottom of the sand, and later on in his own ideas.