This course will offer a broad survey of Japanese cinema, including early silent films, fictional feature films, documentaries, and anime (animated films). The goals of this course are: to gain a familiarity with and appreciation for Japanese films and culture, to learn the basic history of Japanese cinema, to acquire the necessary vocabulary and tools for analyzing films as cinematic texts, and to develop critical thinking skills when viewing, discussing, and writing about film. This class requires no background in Japanese language, film, or history; all films are subtitled in English. Classes will include a lecture component, but will be heavily focused on whole class and small group discussions. Your consistent attendance and active participation are essential to the success of this class and your grade in it.
The basic general format will be as follows: each Tuesday, we will watch a new film beginning at 5 p.m. (exact time/location TBD). In Thursday’s class, we will discuss the film, our reactions to it, the key issues it raises, etc. as an entire class and in small groups. On the following Tuesday, most weeks you will be assigned to read an article that relates to this film and/or the issues it raises; occasionally, you will instead or in addition have a homework assignment due in class (as indicated on the class schedule). In Tuesday’s class, we will discuss the film in the context of the readings and/or the assignment. Pop quizzes will often be held at the beginnings of class on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays to make sure that you’ve completed the viewings/readings and are in attendance. In addition, you will do frequent in-class assignments individually or in groups that help you develop the necessary skills of film analysis.
Most weeks there will be film screenings on Tuesdays starting at 5 p.m. (exact time/location TBD) which is your homework for the next class. You should plan on attending these, but if you have a legitimate excuse may watch the films on your own before class on Thursday.
Films will likely include:
Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai, Kurosawa Akira, 1954, 200 min., DVD 5759)
Tampopo (Itami Juzō, 1985, 114 min., DVD 107)
Fireworks (Hana-bi, Kitano “Beat” Takeshi, 1997, 103 min., DVD 713)
Sisters of the Gion (Gion no kyōdai, Mizoguchi Kenji, 1936, 66 min., VC 2762)
Late Spring (Banshun, Ozu Yasujiro, 1949, 108 min., DVD 4924)
Crazed Fruit (Kurutta kajitsu, 1956, Nakahira Kō, 86 min., DVD 4185)
Millenium Actress (Sennen joyū, 2001, Satoshi Kon, 87 min.)
The Neighbor’s Wife and Mine** (Madamu to nyōbō, Gosho Heinosuke, 1931)
Page of Madness (Kurutta ippeiji, Kinugasa Teinosuke, 1926, 60 min., VC 9429)
China Nights (Shina no yoru, Osamu Fushimizu, 1940, 124 min.)
The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (Yukiyukite shingun, Hara Kazuo, 1987, 120 min., DVD 6094)
Death by Hanging (Kōshikei, Ōshima Nagisa,1968, 117 min.)