Untama Giru

Director: Takamine Go
Screenwriters: Takamine Go

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


It is Okinawa in 1969. Giru, an exploited worker in a sugar refinery run by blind Nishibaru, is fascinated by his boss's seductive adopted daughter, Malley. One day he discovers the bizarre truth: Malley is actually a magic sow in human guise. Fearing that Nishibaru will kill him (the blind man has a sure aim with his spear), Giru flees into the Untatna Forest. The tree spirit, Kijimuna, protects him and teaches him to levitate—which conveniently allows him to rise above Okinawa's factional struggles between pro-Americans, pro Japanese and supporters of Okinawan independence. These events are observed by Giru's dreamy sister, Chiru, but they go right over the head of the U.S. military commissioner, Kamajisar, who is too busy getting off on blood transfusions to worry about politics. Giru's exploits are chronicled in watabu songs by the local barbershop quintet. One day, while Giru's guard is down, Nishibaru aims his spear at the magic gem on Giru's forehead and scores a direct hit. But the legend of Giru lives on .. Comment After many conversations with Takamine, I came to realize that Okinawa functions for the Japanese as a place of dreams. The whole place is a metaphor: the last pure land.

— John Sayles (1989)

Screening Details

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