Japanese Cinema
 Stuart Galbraith IV
Language: English Release: 2009
Publisher: Taschen Pages: 192
Genre: Non-Fiction ISBN: 978-3822831564

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Andrew Nguyen (submission)

Often the words Anime, Godzilla, and most famously Akira Kurosawa come to mind when one thinks of Japanese cinema. Until the advent of the Internet and new home video-technologies, other well known Japanese directors as well as superb Japanese films in areas such as comedies and musicals have almost remained completely hidden from western eyes. Now thanks to the new film technologies some of the films from these unknown categories of Japanese cinema have arrived on Western shores.

Written by well known film commentator Stuart Galbraith IV and published in 2009, Japanese Cinema covers the history of Japanese movie making from its beginning to its modern days (for the book, its 2007) as well as its spectrum. Starting off with a description of the early years of Japanese cinema including its experiences during and after World War II, the section ends by quoting Churchill's famous line that summed up the turning point of World War II “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.” After this introduction, the book gives an overview of the different categories of film that Japanese cinema has dealt with throughout the years. Each film category includes famous and unknown examples to help provide an excellent understanding. Of course the book talks about anime, Godzilla, and Kurosawa but its main goal is to focus on elements of Japanese cinema that have remained hidden from western eyes.

With the Japanese film industry ready to re-emerge from the scars of the war, a "Golden Period" began which lasted form 1950 till 1965. During that time, many grand names of Japanese cinema emerged onto the scene as the artistic and commercial goals of cinema worked hand in hand. In that time period, the combined Japanese film studios produced scores of movies in a variety of categories. Most ranged from the ordinary to the extraordinary, the controversial and to the bizarre.

Like film industries in other countries, Japan's film industry suffered a major collapse and change that has lasted to this day. The culprit of this change was television, which lead to the breakdown of the Japanese studio system during the 1970s. This resulted in several studios going bankrupt while others underwent drastic cost cutting measures to remain active. Amongst the elements of the Japanese film industry that survived and actually thrived thus far was the anime industry. While the Japanese studios along with some of its most famous directors did attempt to fill the void, often films by "new wave" directors took up the slack. In fact there were two "new wave" periods of Japanese cinema with the first one appearing in the shadow of the Golden Period and the second period occurring during the later parts of the 20th century. Often the 2nd "new wave" cinema seemed to amp up the controversy and the bizarre to an incredible degree. Intermixed amongst those films were ones that dealt with elements of everyday Japanese life in the modern age.

The book ends by stating that today's Japanese cinema is mainly concerned with attempting to stay alive. It also states that the advent of the internet as well as new home-video technologies have opened up Japanese films to a wider audience. Furthermore, these new tools could help any potential new Japanese directors attempting to scale to the heights of their legendary forebears.

After the ending, there is a chronology of important events in Japanese film industry, a filmography of selected films and then a bibliography.

With multiple pictures of multiple Japanese films from throughout its cinema history and for a reasonable price of $29.98, Japanese Cinema fulfills its purpose in giving an overview to the larger world of Japanese Cinema beyond its most famous names.