Beaches: Concepts and Development

  • Michael Walker


A key beach trope is the drifting/lonely/unhappy woman on a beach. The trope is relevant to the three 1954 films that marked the breakthrough of the beach ending (Sansho Dayu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Japan; La Strada, Federico Fellini, Italy; Drive a Crooked Road, Richard Quine, USA) and continues into later films. The US beach holiday films, dating from the late 1950s, offer a contrasting cluster of examples. This chapter also explores a key metaphor, the notion of a beach as a tabula rasa, and considers the significance of an empty beach in a film’s last shot. Renewal, an overarching feature of beach endings, is looked at in some detail through a range of examples. A more general feature of film endings—the presence and function of superego figures—is related to beach endings. One film with an ‘unachieved’ beach ending is noted.


  1. Burke, Frank. 1987. La Strada. In La Strada: Federico Fellini, Director, ed. Peter Bondanella and Manuela Gieri, 253–262. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chardère, Bernard. 1962. The Woman on the Beach, Jean Renoir, Premier Plan 22-23-24, 331–335.Google Scholar
  3. Corbin, Alain. 1994. The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750–1840. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  4. Fiske, John. [1989] 1995. Reading the Popular. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Golding, William. [1954] 1958. Lord of the Flies. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  6. Graham, Sheilah, and Gerold Frank. 1959. Beloved Infidel. London: The Book Club.Google Scholar
  7. Jackson, Kathy Merlock. 1993. Frankie and Annette at the Beach: The Beach Locale in American Movies and Its Dominance in the 1960s. In Beyond the Stars: Studies in Popular American Film. Vol. 4: Locales in Popular American Film, ed. Paul Loukides and Linda K. Fuller, 121–135. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.Google Scholar
  8. Jacoby, Alexander. 2012. Endings: Sansho Dayu. Sight & Sound (NS) 22 (12, December): 128.Google Scholar
  9. Leach, Edmund. 1976. Culture and Communication: The Logic by Which Symbols Are Connected. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Le Fanu, Mark. 2005. Mizoguchi and Japan. London: British Film Institute.Google Scholar
  11. Lindsay, Norman. [1938] 1960. Age of Consent. New York: Pocket Books.Google Scholar
  12. Wood, Robin. 1976. Personal Views. London: Gordon Fraser.Google Scholar
  13. Wood, Robin. 1992. The Noriko Trilogy: Three Films of Ozu with Setsuko Hara. CineAction 26/27 (Winter): 60–81.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.LondonUK

Personalised recommendations