Kurosawa: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema

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Duke University Press, 2000 - History - 485 pages
2 Reviews
The films of Akira Kurosawa have had an immense effect on the way the Japanese have viewed themselves as a nation and on the way the West has viewed Japan. In this comprehensive and theoretically informed study of the influential director's cinema, Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto definitively analyzes Kurosawa's entire body of work, from 1943's Sanshiro Sugata to 1993's Madadayo. In scrutinizing this oeuvre, Yoshimoto shifts the ground upon which the scholarship on Japanese cinema has been built and questions its dominant interpretive frameworks and critical assumptions.
Arguing that Kurosawa's films arouse anxiety in Japanese and Western critics because the films problematize Japan's self-image and the West's image of Japan, Yoshimoto challenges widely circulating clichés about the films and shows how these works constitute narrative answers to sociocultural contradictions and institutional dilemmas. While fully acknowledging the achievement of Kurosawa as a filmmaker, Yoshimoto uses the director's work to reflect on and rethink a variety of larger issues, from Japanese film history, modern Japanese history, and cultural production to national identity and the global circulation of cultural capital. He examines how Japanese cinema has been “invented” in the discipline of film studies for specific ideological purposes and analyzes Kurosawa's role in that process of invention. Demonstrating the richness of both this director's work and Japanese cinema in general, Yoshimoto's nuanced study illuminates an array of thematic and stylistic aspects of the films in addition to their social and historical contexts.
Beyond aficionados of Kurosawa and Japanese film, this book will interest those engaged with cultural studies, postcolonial studies, cultural globalization, film studies, Asian studies, and the formation of academic disciplines.


 

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A veritable bible for fans and newcomers alike, Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film offers an extraordinary close-up of the hitherto overlooked golden age of Japanese cult cinema from the 1950s through the 1970s. Having unique access to top maverick filmmakers and Japanese genre film icons, Chris Desjardins brings together interviews with, and original writings on, such transgressive directors as Seijun Suzuki (Branded to Kill) and Koji Wakamatsu (Ecstasy of the Angels), as well as performers like Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba (The Streetfighter, Kill Bill Vol. 1) and Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood). Desjardins brings us up to date with an overview of such Japanese "enfants terribles" as Takashi Miike (Audition) and Kiyoshi Kurasawa (Cure). Illustrated with fantastic stills and posters from some of Japan's finest cult and action films, the book also provides detailed extras including filmographies and related bibliographies.
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Contents

Introduction
1
JAPANESE CINEMA IN SEARCH OF A DISCIPLINE
7
THE FILMS OF KUROSAWA AKIRA
51
Kurosawa Criticism and the Name of the Author
53
Sanshiro Sugata
69
The Most Beautiful
81
Sanshiro Sugata Part 2
89
The Men Who Tread on the Tigers Tail
93
Seven Samurai
205
Record of a Living Being
246
Throne of Blood
250
The Lower Depths
270
The Hidden Fortress
272
The Bad Sleep Well
274
Yojimbo
289
Hgj and Low
303

No Regrets for Our Youth
114
One Wonderful Sunday
135
Drunken Angel
138
The Quiet Duel
140
Stray Dog
147
Scandal
179
Rashomon
182
The Idiot
190
Ikiru
194
Red Beard
332
Kagemusha
348
Rhapsody in August
364
Notes
379
Filmography
433
Bibliography
451
Index
471
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto is Associate Professor of Japanese, Cinema, and Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa.

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