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  • Acknowledgements ix

    Introduction 1

    I Japanese Cinema in Search of a Discipline 7

    II The Films of Kurosawa Akira 51

    Kurosawa Criticism and the Name of the Author 53

    Sanshiro Sugata 69

    The Most Beautiful 81

    Sanshiro Sagata, Part 2 89

    The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail 93

    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

    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

    Sanjuro 293

    High and Low 303

    Red Beard 332

    Dodeskaden 334

    Dersu Uzala 344

    Kagemusha 348

    Ran 355

    Dreams 359

    Rhapsody in August 364

    Madadayo 372

    Epilogue 375

    Notes 379

    Filmography 433

    Bibliography 451

    Index 471





  • Kurosawa offers a valuable framework for an extended critical analysis of a single director—an analysis that moves beyond the confines of an auteurial study or of an examination of a director’s role in a single cultural tradition. Yoshimoto’s detailed film-by-film analysis reminds us of the resonance of this director’s massive body of work. Throughout this thought-provoking study, Yoshimoto invites us to ‘rethink Japanese cinema, modern Japanese history, and film as the art of the twentieth century’ through the films of Kurosawa.”

    “[An] erudite and near-comprehensive book. . . . [T]he best part of Yoshimoto’s book is his fascinating account of the effects of the occupation.”

    “Fresh in its approach, streaked with veins of insight, bent under the sheer weight of the information it contains, Yoshimoto’s book is unquestionably successful as a study of Kurosawa’s films. . . . [S]omething more than deconstruction emerges from his study. Insisting (often polemically) on culturally informed critique, Yoshimoto fashions an alternative to the broadly humanistic approach common in film classes.”

    “Shed[s] remarkable new light and often [goes] against the critical current. Full of extraordinary knowledge.”

    This is a rich and thought-provoking text that should generate considerable and productive debate in Japanese film studies, cinema studies, and Japanese studies.”

    Reviews

  • Kurosawa offers a valuable framework for an extended critical analysis of a single director—an analysis that moves beyond the confines of an auteurial study or of an examination of a director’s role in a single cultural tradition. Yoshimoto’s detailed film-by-film analysis reminds us of the resonance of this director’s massive body of work. Throughout this thought-provoking study, Yoshimoto invites us to ‘rethink Japanese cinema, modern Japanese history, and film as the art of the twentieth century’ through the films of Kurosawa.”

    “[An] erudite and near-comprehensive book. . . . [T]he best part of Yoshimoto’s book is his fascinating account of the effects of the occupation.”

    “Fresh in its approach, streaked with veins of insight, bent under the sheer weight of the information it contains, Yoshimoto’s book is unquestionably successful as a study of Kurosawa’s films. . . . [S]omething more than deconstruction emerges from his study. Insisting (often polemically) on culturally informed critique, Yoshimoto fashions an alternative to the broadly humanistic approach common in film classes.”

    “Shed[s] remarkable new light and often [goes] against the critical current. Full of extraordinary knowledge.”

    This is a rich and thought-provoking text that should generate considerable and productive debate in Japanese film studies, cinema studies, and Japanese studies.”

  • “A tour-de-force reading of Kurosawa’s films. Yoshimoto adds greatly to current Kurasawa scholarship and to situating the construct ‘Japanese Cinema’ in a way that it has not been situated before.” — E. Ann Kaplan, author of, Looking for the Other: Feminism, Film, and the Imperial Gaze

    “Yoshimoto’s Kurosawa is destined to take its place along with the most important achievements of cinema studies, which is to say that it is a book about something more than cinema itself. Yet it offers a stimulating, running commentary on the films that makes one want to see them all over again, while also offering a new theory of auteurship as collective negotiation. This is a grand performance sustained by a voice of rare authority.” — Fredric Jameson

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  • Description

    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.


    About The Author(s)

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

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