[Film] WANDA: A Movie That Surprises with Its Timelessness (Director, Starring Barbara Loden)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article


I will write an article about this movie/book

What I want to convey in this article

The main character Wanda, who has an inexplicable charm despite being useless, is truly a wonderful character in this movie.

Saikawa Goto

This was the kind of work that kept me watching even though there is no special storyline in particular.

Three takeaways from this article

  1. It was over 50 years old, but until I finished watching it, I assumed it was a “modern film shot in such a setting”.
  2. Surprising that the star, Barbara Loden, not only acted but also directed and wrote the script.
  3. A last-minute “survival technique” that Wanda who is lack of “reality awareness” has learned in order to survive.
Saikawa Goto

An attention-grabbing piece that received support from GUCCI for its print restoration and has been permanently registered in the National Film Registry of America.

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Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

The Film “WANDA” Directed by Barbara Loden Exudes a Modern Feel that You Wouldn’t Think was From the 1970s

I was Surprised that I didn’t Feel Any “Oldness” at all

I didn’t know anything about the movie “WANDA” before watching it, and I didn’t even know that such a movie existed. I decided to watch it just because the trailer I saw at the theater was quite good. So, I didn’t find out that it was a 1970s film until after I finished watching it.

I was really surprised because I didn’t think it was a movie from over 50 years ago.


You even thought the rough texture of the images and the atmosphere of the city in which they were set were “recreations of the atmosphere of old times”, didn’t you.

Saikawa Goto

It’s probably difficult for Japanese people to judge.

Since I am a foreign audience, I had no basis for comparison and the movie felt modern to me. Although people who know about America in the 1970s might still feel its “oldness”.

This movie won the Best Foreign Film award at the Venice International Film Festival in 1970, but was almost completely ignored in the United States at that time. Later, through the efforts of various individuals who professed to be fans of the film, the print was restored with the support of GUCCI. The “restored version screening” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York was so popular that there were long lines. In 2017, it was recognized as a “work that is worth preserving for future generations” and was permanently registered in the National Film Registry of the United States. She died at the young age of 48 shortly after the release of this movie in 1980, so she probably never knew about the praise that is being received now.


It’s off-topic, but which is better: “being evaluated during one’s lifetime but not lasting long” or “being evaluated after death and lasting forever”?

Saikawa Goto

Of course, I would want to be evaluated during my lifetime, but if that means my work won’t remain in the future, I might hesitate.

In movies, there is almost no special storyline in paticular. First, let me introduce the rough plot. The protagonist Wanda is served with divorce papers at the beginning of the movie, and goes to a motel with a man who bought her a beer at the bar, but he quickly abandons her. The little cash she had was stolen at the cinema. Later, Wanda sneaks into a closed bar and meets a man named Dennis, with whom she goes on the run… The majority of the story is spent on Wanda and Dennis’ escape, depicting how the two build a strange relationship.

Honestly, I cannot explain well what was good about this movie that’s just it. I felt that it was a mysterious movie.

The Surprising Thing is that the Actress Who Played Wanda Also Served as the Film Director and Screenwriter

The movie is really just held together by Wanda’s charm; she is such a lovely character. Honestly, if I had someone like her around me, I might find her a bit of a hassle, but to an outsider, she seems very charming.

After viewing the film, I did some research on it and was surprised by one fact. It is that “Barbara Loden, who starred in the film, directed and wrote the screenplay. At first, I couldn’t quite grasp what was so surprising about this fact. After thinking about it for a while, I came to the conclusion that it must have been because I felt a sense of reality from Wanda.

Saikawa Goto

I feel like I’m telling a stupid misunderstanding, but…


You don’t usually feel this way after watching a movie, so in that sense, it was a unique film, do you.

Wanda is a woman who gives off a “poor thing” vibe. In today’s world, she would probably be considered a character with some sort of illness, such as “developmental disorders” or “mental illness.” Wanda herself even says “I’m stupid” about herself.

For example, when Wanda is asked to do the shopping, Dennis says a few things to buy, and Wanda asks him to repeat them over and over. She probably forgets things quickly. Moreover, she repeatedly asks for directions to the store that is “two buildings to the left after leaving the hotel.” She also didn’t remember the room number, so she had to confirm with the front desk when she returned.

Now, I thought Wanda is such a very real person, so I was surprised that “that Wanda made a movie.” Of course, it’s a very strange way of thinking if I think about it calmly, but I felt that I was able to feel even more reality to the woman named Wanda because of the way I felt.


The movie overall feels a bit like a documentary, which might be related.

Saikawa Goto

Although I know it’s not a documentary, I felt like I was being dragged along by the feel of the video.

And so, the movie about such a useless Wanda is very charming.

At the beginning, Wanda appears in court for a divorce settlement. However, she has a very apathetic attitude, saying “If my husband wants a divorce, that’s fine.” In the 1970s, not only in America but also worldwide, there should have been a strong trend that “women had to stay home and take care of the household.” Considering that background, Wanda is not the type of woman who can fulfill the “expectations that men have for their wives.” According to the common sense of that time, I think she was simply not suitable for marriage.

On the other hand, Wanda is a very beautiful woman. She appears in court with curlers still in her hair, dressed like pajamas, and standing with a tired expression, but she still exudes beauty in some way.


It seems Barbara Loden was 38 years old at the time of the movie’s release.

Saikawa Goto

Even though she looks ageless, while watching the movie, I thought she was much younger.

Wanda’s “vulnerable beauty” attracts men like moths to a flame. And that is what keeps her barely alive. It can be said that she is able to maintain her existence in society despite being unsuitable for social life because men who want to get involved with her appear, one after another.

In this movie, the sadness of a woman who can only live like that is depicted throughout.

One particularly impressive scene was when Wanda was praised by Dennis. Wanda always has a facial expression that seems to say she has left her emotions somewhere, but in this scene where she was praised by Dennis, she couldn’t contain her joy and it overflowed from her expression. Because Wanda, who rarely shows such expressions, had this moment captured, it emphasized how she “had not been praised in her life until now.”


You feel a little sad as an audience watching this scene where she smiles happily because she was praised, don’t you.

Saikawa Goto

I really wish she could smile more for a different reason.

The story is essentially a work that is filled with the ugliness of men who approach Wanda’s weakness, but more than that, I felt it was a strange movie that emphasized “Wanda’s charm”.

Wanda Continues to Move Forward Without Stopping, But it Seems Llike She Lacks “the Ability to Perceive Reality”

When watching Wanda, what I feel is that she may be lacking in “the ability to perceive reality”. For example, in a situation where 100 people would all judge it as “A”, it doesn’t seem like Wanda would make the same judgment. However, it’s not like she would come up with a different interpretation like “B” or “C” either. It seems to me that Wanda always perceives the situation unfolding before her eyes without any act of “interpretation. For her, it is simply a “scene. For her, it’s simply like a photo framed and displayed on a wall. No matter what happens in the photo, it has nothing to do with the person looking at it. From Wanda, I feel an atmosphere that she doesn’t perceive all situations as “matters that concern her”.

Saikawa Goto

In extreme cases, when an explosion occurs in front of us, we usually think, “It’s dangerous, I have to run away,” but Wanda simply might see it as “an explosion has occurred.


That’s why she can’t even come to a decision like, “Common sense tells us that this situation is not right now.

I am generally only interested in “eccentric” people, so in that sense, Wanda’s behavior seems very interesting to me. In a way, this is what I would call “Wanda’s charm.” It’s interesting that she simply takes in all situations as “scenes” without judging whether they have anything to do with her, and therefore just goes along with the flow. Moreover, Wanda’s presence, having somehow managed to live on with this attitude, feels wonderful to me.

This attitude is probably what we should consider as Wanda’s “survival skill.” Normally, one would have some thoughts like “what is required of me in this situation, and what actions should I take to achieve that,” but Wanda cannot live like that. She is desperately unsuited to living by “doing what is required.” Therefore, it would be difficult for her to handle the roles of “wife” and “mother.” And, in order to somehow survive in that state, I felt that the “survival skill” she had arrived at after a long period of time is what is reflected in Wanda’s behavior.

Saikawa Goto

I don’t have accurate knowledge, so this might be off the mark, but I have an image that people of this type are diagnosed with “autism.”


In the 1970s, the state of “autism” probably wasn’t widely recognized yet.

However, her behavior of not interpreting the situation in front of her leads her to easily seize “helping hands” directed towards her (whether or not they can truly be called “support” is another matter). Normally, even in situations where one would think “this might be strange” and come to a halt, her lack of “reality recognition ability” allows her to effortlessly step into a completely different world, as naturally as taking off shoes at the entrance.

Because she is unable to behave as “requested,” her life becomes far from “stable.” However, on the other hand, due to the very same nature, she can dive into anything without brakes. It is a very “unstable” way of living, but I felt a certain charm overflowing from Wanda, who lives on the edge.

About Barbara Loden

Barbara Loden, who also served as a film director and screenwriter, brilliantly portrayed the very unstable and charming Wanda. It is very difficult to realistically and beautifully present the existence of Wanda, but Barbara Loden has melted into this movie world with her performance as if she were “Wanda herself.”

On the official website, there was a quote from Barbara Loden. It is not related to the re-screening of this restored version, as she has already passed away. Although it is unknown when and under what circumstances the words appeared, let’s quote them.

I was worthless. I had no friends, no talent. I was like a shadow. Until I made “WANDA,” I had no idea who I was or what I should do.

I feel that her self-awareness is quite “Wanda-like”. In other words, Wanda is not a “fiction created in her head”, but rather an existence like a reflection of Barbara Loden, which may have created an indescribable sense of reality.

According to her career on the official website, it is written that she married a master film director who was 23 years older than her after her debut as an actress. It may have looked like a “blessed life” to outsiders. However, she felt like she was “nothing” until she made the movie “WANDA”. Perhaps it is because she played Wanda, who was aware of such an “unstable existence,” that this film was able to stick in the minds of so many people.


The overall footage is so shaky that I think it’s a documentary. Combined with its rough picture quality, it creates a sense of realism that doesn’t feel like fiction. Additionally, the shaky footage seemed to express Wanda’s “instability.” I think it was very appropriate for depicting her life, which was always far from “stable”.

It probably had something to do with the fact that the day I saw this film coincided with a service day at the movie theater, but the times I saw it were nearly full. I think it is quite a rare film, full of charm, including the circumstances that led to its re-screening.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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