Now illustrated throughout with color and black and white photographs and film stills; completely revised and up-to-date; and Praised in American Cinematographer as ‚the definitive study of this traditional movie genre,‚ Alain Silver‚s The Samurai Film is the ultimate resource for one of world cinema‚s most influential and compelling genres.
The image of a lone hero, marked by a violent past and bound by honor, has fascinated film audiences the world over, but nowhere more than in Japan where Samurai films have gained legions of passionate followers. Popularized by one of the greatest directors in cinematic history, Akira Kurosawa, the themes of the Samurai film continue to cross over into Western films, recent blockbusters include Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Kill Bill.
The most astute Western analyst of this genre, Alain Silver deconstructs its key themes, from its focus on death and the significance of weaponry to key motifs such as hara kiri, and nostalgia for Japan‚s feudal past. With comprehensive filmographies of the major directors and films, a survey of the history and myths of the Samurai, a glossary of Japanese terms, and extensive illustrations including more than two hundred photos, The Samurai Film covers every aspect of this fascinating cinematic tradition.
Spotlight customer reviews:
Customer Rating: Summary: The Best Book for the Best Samurai Films Comment: Well-known and respected film critic Alain Silver has written what should be the definitive work on the (true) samurai film. These are movies made in Japan, and the best ones, the ones that are more than just action films, have something to say. These great directors like Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Gosha, Masaki Kobayashi, and Kihachi Okamoto were seeking to find answers to today's problems in the historical past.
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. Customer Rating: Summary: Frist Review!! Comment: If you are the type of person viewed by others as strage because of your attraction for dubbed, 60s-era, b&w; Samurai movies (if not for many other reasons), you will be buoyed by the knowledge presented in this book: That the directors and scriptwriters who produced many of these chambarra were beyond talented, and that the subject matter (of bushido and personal relationships within the cultural and personal codes of conduct of historical Japan) is a worthy lense for the artistic presentation/examination of the human condition.
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.