- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Overlook Books; Revised, Expanded edition (November 17, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1585675962
- ISBN-13: 978-1585675968
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.5 x 10.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Samurai Film Hardcover – November 17, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Although the samurai, a privileged warrior class deeply enmeshed in Japanese feudal society, vanished nearly a century and a half ago with the restoration of the Meiji dynasty, the cinematic icon lives on, in one form or another, mixing history and myth in a popular and widely influential genre. By the heyday of the 1960s, works in the samurai (or chambara) genre by seminal directors Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Gosha and others had turned its aesthetics of violence into some of the finest specimens of narrative cinema anywhere. As new generations of cinemagoers-inspired by films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), House of Flying Daggers (2004) or Tarantino's samurai homage, Kill Bill (Vols. I and II)-seek out examples new and old of "the operatic complications and physical magic of the swordplay movies," they will find respected film analyst Silver's survey of enduring value. Silver's revised and expanded version of his 1977 study (first revised in 1983) offers not only close readings and discriminating assessments of major films and filmmakers but a wealth of insight into the history, philosophy and politics bearing on the chambara film in all its permutations and lines of influence. Complete with a generous array of photos, sophisticated filmography and glossary of Japanese terms, this volume will be an indispensable reference for serious fans and an excellent starting point for neophytes. But it's also a detailed, penetrating read for anyone interested in film history, especially as a gateway into some fascinating strains in Japanese culture and its ongoing dialogue with the West.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
From Throne of Blood to Kill Bill, the richly illustrated standard guide to one of the world's most enduring film genres.
Top customer reviews
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This book is excellent if you want to learn about these men, their movies, and Japanese history/culture. The updated edition even covers new stuff, like later samurai movies that are not as good (the genre really lost something when this first generation of directors left and samurai films began to get made for their own sake). And it mentions American cinema, from The Last Samurai to Kill Bill, movies that were inspired by these great old films of the 50's and 60's and which pale in comparison.
Yes, Silver is extrmely analytical, so you have to actually want to understand cinema to make it through this. He discusses technique, especially the visual style of the director (lighting, camera movement, compostion, type of lens, etc.) and you Tarantino or Cruise fans aren't going to be able to stomach all that.
I believe that's one honkin' runon sentence, and quite against recommended practice, but there it is.
This book will be invaluable for the not-so-knowledgeable chambarra enthusiast who, like me, still needs a little help to differentiate the wheat from the chaff...and the gold from the wheat, for that matter. That there is plenty of chaff is substantiated by the hundreds-long fimlography of Samurai films through the 80s appended. The representative titles in the "Foreign" section of too many video stores would seem to come randomly from this list. As in America, some of the most popular product was pretty much crap, and some of the best directors occasionally had modest success with good work.
The book is a great guide to the directors whose work exhibits strong craft and intellectual depth. Knowing to look for Gosha or Kobiyashi in a selection of unknown-but-presumably-random quality has proven very rewarding.
NOTE: The book is very strong on analysis of their cinematographic choices and techniques. And when I say "strong", I mean there's huge gobs of it. Silver certainly sounds competent, but this level of analysis will be of greater or lesser interest to different people, depending on how deeply one has sunk into Le Pit du Cineasterie.