The Castle of Sand


2h 23m 1974
The Castle of Sand

Brief Synopsis

Two police detectives set out to solve the murder of an old man who was beaten to death.

Film Details

Also Known As
Suna no utsuwa
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Foreign
Release Date
1974

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 23m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Two police detectives set out to solve the murder of an old man who was beaten to death.

Film Details

Also Known As
Suna no utsuwa
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Foreign
Release Date
1974

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 23m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Castle of Sand


The biggest box office hit director Yoshitaro Nomura ever had in his native Japan was Castle of Sand (1974), one of eight films he made based on the work of crime novelist Seicho Matsumoto. It was the most highly-regarded of Nomura's films by Japanese critics, took second place in Kinema Jumpo magazine's 1975's poll of critics, and was ranked 27th in the magazine's list of best films of the 20th century. The film also earned the top prize at the Moscow International Film Festival.

Like many of Nomura's films, Castle of Sand begins with a train journey. Two detectives travel from Tokyo to the northern Akita Prefecture, investigating the murder of an unidentified man whose body was found in a train yard. The cops are a typical police-procedural pairing, an older, somewhat plodding one (who nevertheless writes poetry), and a younger, energetic and enthusiastic one. Their investigation takes them up and down the entire main Japanese island of Honshu, from the cities of Tokyo and Osaka to small rural villages. The victim is eventually identified as a former policeman. The roots of the crime extend back thirty years to the World War II era, and the painstakingly precise, step-by-step investigation involves a famous and mysterious musician, a wealthy industrialist, a spurned mistress, Tokyo bar hostesses, and a long-hidden secret. In spite of the film noir storyline, Castle of Sand is shot in wide-screen and glowing color, and features a lushly romantic musical score, including a piano concerto that is essential to the plot.

Nomura reportedly spent two decades trying to bring Castle of Sand and other Matsumoto works to the screen. The director spent his entire career making films in a variety of genres within the confines of Japan's studio system at Shochiku Studios, where his father, silent director Hotei Nomura, also worked. Yet he not only produced films that were compelling and original, they also provided insight into Japan's haunted past and uneasy present.

Nomura's work was little-seen in the west until recently, and even today western audiences may find the ambitious Castle of Sand disconcerting for the very reasons that Japanese critics applauded it at the time it was made: the meticulous detailing of the investigative procedure; the final twenty minutes, which intercuts a police meeting describing the findings with a musical performance and the story's tragic denouement; and the mixing of film noir, melodrama, opulent color and visual grandeur. This is filmmaking on a grand scale, filmmaking that takes risks. And if your jaw is hanging open at the end of Castle of Sand, it may well be because that his audacious risk-taking pays off.

Director: Yoshitaro Nomura
Producer: Shinobu Hashimoto, Yoshiharo Mishima, Masayuki Sato
Screenplay: Shinobu Hashimoto, Yoshitaro Nomura, Yoji Yamada, based on a novel by Seicho Matsumoto
Cinematography: Takashi Kawamata
Editor: Kazuo Ota
Art Direction: Kyohei Morita
Music: Yasushi Akutagawa
Principal Cast: Tetsuro Tanba (Detective Imanishi), Go Kato (Eiryo Waga), Kensaku Morita (Detective Yoshimura), Yoko Shimada (Reiko), Karin Yamaguchi (Sachiko), Yoshi Kato (Waga's Father), Kazuhide Haruta (Motoura Hideo), Chishu Ryu (Kirihara), Ken Ogata (Miki).
C-143m.

by Margarita Landazuri
The Castle Of Sand

The Castle of Sand

The biggest box office hit director Yoshitaro Nomura ever had in his native Japan was Castle of Sand (1974), one of eight films he made based on the work of crime novelist Seicho Matsumoto. It was the most highly-regarded of Nomura's films by Japanese critics, took second place in Kinema Jumpo magazine's 1975's poll of critics, and was ranked 27th in the magazine's list of best films of the 20th century. The film also earned the top prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. Like many of Nomura's films, Castle of Sand begins with a train journey. Two detectives travel from Tokyo to the northern Akita Prefecture, investigating the murder of an unidentified man whose body was found in a train yard. The cops are a typical police-procedural pairing, an older, somewhat plodding one (who nevertheless writes poetry), and a younger, energetic and enthusiastic one. Their investigation takes them up and down the entire main Japanese island of Honshu, from the cities of Tokyo and Osaka to small rural villages. The victim is eventually identified as a former policeman. The roots of the crime extend back thirty years to the World War II era, and the painstakingly precise, step-by-step investigation involves a famous and mysterious musician, a wealthy industrialist, a spurned mistress, Tokyo bar hostesses, and a long-hidden secret. In spite of the film noir storyline, Castle of Sand is shot in wide-screen and glowing color, and features a lushly romantic musical score, including a piano concerto that is essential to the plot. Nomura reportedly spent two decades trying to bring Castle of Sand and other Matsumoto works to the screen. The director spent his entire career making films in a variety of genres within the confines of Japan's studio system at Shochiku Studios, where his father, silent director Hotei Nomura, also worked. Yet he not only produced films that were compelling and original, they also provided insight into Japan's haunted past and uneasy present. Nomura's work was little-seen in the west until recently, and even today western audiences may find the ambitious Castle of Sand disconcerting for the very reasons that Japanese critics applauded it at the time it was made: the meticulous detailing of the investigative procedure; the final twenty minutes, which intercuts a police meeting describing the findings with a musical performance and the story's tragic denouement; and the mixing of film noir, melodrama, opulent color and visual grandeur. This is filmmaking on a grand scale, filmmaking that takes risks. And if your jaw is hanging open at the end of Castle of Sand, it may well be because that his audacious risk-taking pays off. Director: Yoshitaro Nomura Producer: Shinobu Hashimoto, Yoshiharo Mishima, Masayuki Sato Screenplay: Shinobu Hashimoto, Yoshitaro Nomura, Yoji Yamada, based on a novel by Seicho Matsumoto Cinematography: Takashi Kawamata Editor: Kazuo Ota Art Direction: Kyohei Morita Music: Yasushi Akutagawa Principal Cast: Tetsuro Tanba (Detective Imanishi), Go Kato (Eiryo Waga), Kensaku Morita (Detective Yoshimura), Yoko Shimada (Reiko), Karin Yamaguchi (Sachiko), Yoshi Kato (Waga's Father), Kazuhide Haruta (Motoura Hideo), Chishu Ryu (Kirihara), Ken Ogata (Miki). C-143m. by Margarita Landazuri

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