The Inland Sea

Director: Lucille Carra

Institute History

  • 1992 Sundance Film Festival


While travelogues have become the joke of film history, there is a wonderfully personal sort of travel film—the memoir or essay—that is still very rare in cinema. In this special type of film, the author’s or narrator’s ideas share equal billing with the surprises in the landscape. The Inland Sea is a remarkably engaging example, and no wonder. The narrator—acute, reflective and prickly—is Donald Richie, whose books on Japanese cinema and culture act as most Westerners’ introduction to Japan, and the scenic route taken by the film follows the beautiful coast around Japan’s Inland Sea, as well as exploring the small islands it contains. The Inland Sea is a nearly landlocked body of water which is large for Japan, but in the United States would only stretch from Little Rock, Arkansas to Dallas, Texas. The people of the Inland Sea may be the last of the “old” Japan, the remnants of the “real” nation: unhurried, tied to the valleylike sea garden, in tune with the times of day and the rhythms of the seasons. Yet industrial development still threatens, encroaches and devours. The film is not a cautionary tale but a subtle observation of a natural paradise that the force of modern life will soon turn commonplace. The Inland Sea is a rich and often-wistful film of discovery and reflection gracefully directed by Lucille Carra, whose debut work it is, and contrapuntally edited by Brian Cotnoir. The cinematography is by Hiro Narita, known previously for his luminous work on Never Cry Wolf and The Rocketeer.

— Laurence Kardish

Screening Details


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