Hiroshi Teshigahara may not rank as highly in the echelons of Japanese directors as Ozu or Kurosawa, nevertheless he has produced a classic in Woman of the Dunes.
A professor in search of rare butterflies (what else when the film is concerned with transformation) on the dune coast of Western Japan, misses his transport home and is offered shelter by the local people in the strange sand pit home of a widow. All is fine until he tries to leave, and finds that the villagers have other ideas, for the widow needs help in shifting the sand from her pit, an endless and thankless task, and he is held captive. At first he rails against his captivity, sometimes violently, until he finds a purpose in this case the need to keep sand out of the water butt, and he no longer thinks of escape.
Filmed in 1964 at a time when Japan was undergoing a period of growing discontent, the student riots were only a few years away. The film serves as an excellent metaphor for the problems a rapidly changing society has with maintaining the belief systems of the past, and the alienation found in progress. The professsor at first views the peasants as inferior and in the way of his work, he is the face of the self centred modern Japan. But through his captivity he comes to see the need for conformity and a unity of purpose.
If you are interested in cinema, not just Japanese cinema, then I strongly recommend this film, you will probably read something completely different into the film than I did, therein lies its beauty.