Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Anatahan (1953) A Film by Josef Von Sternberg

"The film's starting point is the real historical incident of a Japanese squadron found stranded alive on the titular island years after the defeat of their army. What Sternberg freely imagines are the seven years of toil and hardship endured by these men while separated from their homeland, which constitutes an act of speculative empathy that puts the project squarely in the realm of storytelling. Complicating this understanding, however, is the filmmaker's decision to narrate the tale himself in a droll tone that pinballs between Job-like questioning, poetic musing, and impartial reportage, including the use of such documentary-tinged phrases as 'we can only reconstruct the events' and 'we can only surmise what happened.'"

Full review of Anatahan, now playing in a Kino Lorber restoration at Metrograph in New York City, continues at Slant.

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