Land of the Lost: Close-Up on Josef von Sternberg’s "Anatahan"

Close-Up is a feature that spotlights films now playing on Mubi. Josef von Sternberg's Anatahan (1953) is showing June 4 – July 3, 2019 in the United States.Its premise alone is intriguing. A group of Japanese sailors are attacked at sea and become stranded on an island for seven years, with no knowledge of how the outside world carries on without them. A world, it’s worth noting, that is currently at war. The 1944 incident served as the basis for Michiro Maruyama’s 1954 novel, Anatahan, in which he detailed the ordeal and his time on the Northern Mariana island of that name. Intriguing, yes, but perhaps not a subject immediately associated with filmmaker Josef von Sternberg, a director best known for ornate, cloistered, exotic, and sometimes romantically convoluted dramas. Yet von Sternberg had, in fact, harbored an interest in Japanese culture and art for some time, and the prospect of translating Maruyama’s text to film,
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