August 18, 2006

Sandy Cinema

In a comment on Marc Cooper's blog, Randy Paul touts a new Brazilian film, House of Sand.

This film takes place in the strange lençois maranhenses or "Maranhão Sheets," an area of sand dunes sometimes interspersed with fresh water ponds, in Northeast Brazil. A Teutonically thorough scientific account of this type of dune is here. Which reminds me of an old joke--if you google "sand dunes" and "anti-semitism" you get no less than 11,600 hits!

I haven't seen the film, but I suspect it leaves an impression.

It immediately brought to mind Teshigahara's strange and haunting Woman In The Dunes (1964), which is full of sand, creepiness, and allegory. I saw that film about 40 years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

Then, of course, there's the epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

And not in the same category of greatness, but worth seeing just to look at Candace Bergen, The Wind and The Lion (1975). And there's the documentary Rivers of Sand, and The Sheik with Rudolf Valentino, which also had a sequel--you guessed it, Son of the Sheik.

We've come from the arty and allegorical by now, to the world of popular orientalism. Back, in fact, to the Douanier Rousseau. I'm not going on to jungles, except to recall Viscount Montgomery's retro-naive assessment of Chairman Mao--"the sort of man I'd go in the jungle with."

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