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The Saga of Anatahan 15 rating

Legendary director Josef von Sternberg brings to life this vulnerable tale of human trauma, survival and redemption, telling the story of twelve Japanese WWII seamen stranded on a forgotten island for seven years.

War 1953 91 mins

Director: Josef von Sternberg



Set during the dying stages of World War II, Anatahan tells the story of twelve Japanese seaman stranded on a forgotten island for seven years. Accompanied only by Keiko (Akemi Negishi), a young Japanese woman, all rationality and discipline are soon overcome by a struggle for power and control over Keiko’s affections.

Presented with unsubtitled Japanese dialogue that's translated only by Sternberg's own narration, The Saga of Anatahan was the great Hollywood director's final film, an independent production filmed in Japan with an entirely Japanese crew. To work around the language barrier, Sternberg dispensed with a script, instead distributing a meticulous, wordless storyboard - 'the Anatahan chart' - illustrating each character's emotional journey with symbols and flow diagrams. When asked by an interviewer why he produced the film in Japan when the entire shoot was conducted on studio sets, Sternberg famously replied, "because I'm a poet". Presented here in its 1958 uncensored version; Sternberg's preferred cut of the film.