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A Hundred Years of Japanese Film: A Concise History, with a Selective Guide to Videos and DVDs Hardcover – January 4, 2002
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Widely considered the leading Western authority on Japan, Richie has a particular affinity for the nation's films, as is evident on every page of this authoritative survey. He emphasizes the collaborative nature of film, which is particularly appropriate since in Japanese culture the collective usually trumps the individual, and shows how Japanese cinema largely eschewed realism and narrative until it fell under Western influence. The section on the silent era, when live narrators, benshi, described films' stories to audiences, is particularly revelatory, since 90 percent of pre-1945 Japanese films haven't survived. Richie comments insightfully on the acknowledged masters-- Mizoguchi, Ozu, and Kurosawa--and also on other notable directors who are virtually unknown to even the most avid American cineasts. He finds less to praise about contemporary filmmakers, whose flashier, Westernized approach seems less to his liking. The impressive amount of information on films renowned and obscure and Richie's enthusiasm and critical acumen make this essential for film studies collections. Brief reviews of about 200 films, with notations on video availability, top things off nicely. Gordon Flagg
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"Richie's expertise is hard to miss; surely he overlooks no aspect of these films." -Library Journal
"... attention to all aspects of the filmmaking process ... a well-rounded examination that befits the complexity of the topic." -Kansai Time Out
"The impressive amount of information ... and Richie's enthusiasm and critical acumen make this essential for film studies and collections." -Booklist
"A concise, beautifully realized guide to the expansive history of Japanese film...." - aMagazine / aOnline
"This is the essential survey." -Empire magazine
"... provides a living document of an art form whose origins have more or less been forgotten." -The Daily Yomiuri
"This is probably the best, extensive 'digest' on all aspects of Japanese cinema ... available today in English." -Cinemaya
"Richie's sense of both future and past remains as sharp as ever." -Film Comment
"... so elegant is the prose, so striking are the insights, ... it holds one rapt from first page to last." -The Asahi Shimbun
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Having praised the book, I have to point out the fact that the 2012 revised and updated edition has made no changes to the 2005 edition, at least not in the section on recommended and available films on video. The 2012 edition stills list the same VHS and DVDs as in the 2005 edition. I actually only ordered the book to get an updated version of this chapter. This is a not so difficult job and 7 years (now 13 years) make a huge difference obviously.
I would happily offer to do the job, even for free, to keep this seminal book up to date.
Also, the author Donald Richie, has done the commentary of many of the above films, which means I already have a feel of where he is going with his views and observations. Overall the author is a very serious person when it comes to Japanese films, how they developed and what has happened to them over the years. A great book for anybody already deeply interested on the subject.