Perhaps it is tempting to say that von Sternberg's last film, "Saga Of Anatahan" is the sum of its lacking parts, or at least, the sum of its contingencies. Made rather cheaply, it is shot in a studio, without the costly cachet of location shooting (although to say that the film is in ways a thrown-together, poverty row production is entirely inaccurate). The film spectaculalrly backs this up with another non-sequiter, namely Sternberg's own narration. These factors create the sense of a film created in the vacuum of an auteur's own mind, not least because von Sternberg wrote the screenplay and photographed the film, in addition to directing it. The distance between his lack of knowing Japanese and his own sombre spoken words, along with his beautiful compositional sense and a piquant musical score, creates an extraordinarily melancholic film. Like all artists of note he turns any awkwardness into his own vision, and brings to the forefront the films real themes concerning human cruelty, lust, and greed.
The very final image of the film is a view of mysterious Anatahan, but reminds me of the those introductory shots of Mount Fuji in so many Japanese films, such as those made by Shochiku. Subtlely it reminds us that Anatahan at once has taken so much out of even those who have returned, and yet Anatahan is a kind of non-place, located only as a backdrop, a state of mind, as a postcard to a place that man created in his mind and no one would wish to visit in reality.