Indiana University Press, 1997 - Performing Arts - 183 pages
Shohei Imamura is among the most important artists of postwar Japanese cinema. Best known in the west for his award-winning The Ballad of Narayama, Imamura has produced a body of work that is unequalled for its tumultuous energy and formal daring. A dozen essays by such eminent authorities of Japanese cinema as Donald Richie, Max Tessier and Audie Bock are supplemented by interviews with and articles by Imamura, which explore his influences, themes and working methods.
Published by Cinematheque Ontario. Distributed in Canada by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Distributed outside Canada by Indiana University Press.
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Japanese cinema's dauntless postwar cultural anthropologist and satirist deserved a better account in Anglophone print than this ponderous, somnific selection of insipid treatises and middling interviews. Substantive literature in treatment of Imamura consisted exclusively of Japanese and French publications prior to this volume, and that hasn't changed.
Numerous interviews with Imamura herein yield only a modest insight into the filmmaker's themes, propensities and M.O.; far better may be found online. Most of the essays belabor ignorant speculation in regard to his output; expectedly, a feckless superfluity of conjecture and canard concerning the nuberu bagu doyen's topics and politics are expounded in substandard prose. Filming techniques and narrative innovations peculiar to Imamura's oeuvre are largely disregarded. The filmmaker's lively responses to stock interview queries and expositions pertaining to his preferred subjects and colleagues constitute the book's only substantial content. Imamura's affectionate portrayals of Yuzo Kawashima's aberrant lifestyle and successes are admirable delineations of his mentor, though no less penetrating for their sentiment. Published to coincide with North American theatrical screenings of The Eel, this anthology also wants for any documentation of Imamura's final two features. Ultimately, it's marginally more informative than and invested with the competence routinely observed in a Midnight Eye article: the nadir of source in essay of Japanese motion pictures.
For Francophone Imamura enthusiasts, cinema historian Hubert Niogret's Shohei Imamura: Entretiens et Temoignages is an adequate (if not exhaustive) resource far preferable to this squandered effort.
A Brief Introduction to the Films of Shohei Imamura James Quandt
The Aim of Ethics
The Aim of Ethical Theory
Modem Japans Entomologist Max Tessier
The Last Rising Sun Dave Kehr
Passion and Moral Blindness in The Remains
Shohei Imamura Interview Toichi Nakatu
My Approach to Filmmaking Shohei Imamura