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What next for the Akira Kurosawa Online Film Club?

Akira Kurosawa Online Film Club
In 2008 we kicked off the Akira Kurosawa Online Film Club, our very own “movie of the month” group. Now, seven years, almost a hundred films and some four thousand posts later, we are about to reach the end of the film club’s second cycle. The question then becomes: what are we going to watch next?

The first cycle of the film club ran from 2008 to 2010 and covered the thirty films that Kurosawa directed during his career. The second cycle started in 2010 and again took us through Kurosawa’s thirty films, but this time in chronological order and with related films by other directors inserted between Kurosawa’s.

What should we do next? Which films would you like us to watch? What system should we follow? This is totally up to you guys, so whether you are a seasoned participant, a lurker or a newcomer, voice your opinion in the comments below.

If you have previously not taken part in the Akira Kurosawa film club, check out the film club page for more information about the concept. We look forward to hearing from you!


Discussion

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Vili Maunula

There are many ways to continue from here, but here’s one option that I have been thinking about.

During the last five years we have had quite a lot less discussion about the Kurosawa films than the non-Kurosawa films that we have watched. No doubt this is because many of us had already discussed Kurosawa’s films during the film club’s first cycle and found little to add during the second viewings. Yet, I feel that we cannot completely forget about Kurosawa’s films, not least because we have recently gained quite a number of new visitors and followers, and also because it’s the Akira Kurosawa film club.

I quite liked the second cycle’s system where we paired a Kurosawa film with another film which was in some way related to it. Could we perhaps build on that idea? This spring we saw four films in a row with related themes (Dreams, Black Rain, Rhapsody in August and Grave of the Fireflies) and I thought that it was really nice to explore a topic this way for a longer stretch of time.

So, how about picking a Kurosawa film and building a longer thematic schedule around it? Yojimbo, for instance, could be paired with a number of films including A Fistful of Dollars (which we saw already), Last Man Standing, The Glass Key, Red Harvest, Django, Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo, Miller’s Crossing, Youth of the Beast, the animated series Kaze no Yojimbo, or indeed many others. We wouldn’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) watch all of them, but we could choose, say, 4-6 films and schedule to watch one film / month. This way, we would spend about half a year with a single theme.

As for the Kurosawa film, we could either watch it as one of the monthly films, or assume that the viewer is familiar with it. In the latter case, the Kurosawa film would be a “film of the month” for the whole period, together with the non-Kurosawa film which changes monthly.

Films could be grouped in a number of ways. Thematically (as we sort of did this spring), historically (as in the above Yojimbo example where all films share a plot or characters), by actor (e.g. non-Kurosawa films with Toshiro Mifune) or by another Kurosawa related feature (e.g. works by directors who have been called the “new Kurosawa”). It’s really up to us.

This would of course require us to come up with these groupings a couple of times a year, but I think that’s doable.

Anyway, it’s just one option. I am certainly open for continuing with either of the earlier systems, or with any other clever arrangement that you guys can come up with.

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Longstone

I don’t contribute too often but I do enjoy trying to see the listed film each month and reading all the comments. I’m a fan of Japanese cinema so I enjoyed the second cycle when the discussion branched out to Ozu , Imamura etc. and I also think the slight themed groupings gave interesting new threads for discussion.
Luckily all of Kurosawa’s films survive and are easily available on home cinema formats so having a reason to revisit each one because it appears in the film club is always good.
Your suggestion Vili seems fine to me , maybe we could explore a group of films by Japanese directors from the same era , for example immediate post war films by Kurosawa , Ozu , Mizoguchi or others if the films are available and see how the different directors addressed the issues of censorship etc.
Maybe look at some more contemporary Japanese directors that were influenced by their predecessors like Kore-eda for example?
Anyway , thanks for keeping this site going Vili it’s a nice little corner of the internet to visit for a Japanese cinema enthusiast.

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Ugetsu

I quite like the idea of a few months of thematically linked films (or just simply the various remakes and ‘influenced by’ films by AK. Its nice for discussions to be able to bleed into the next one. Certainly there are a lot of films we could watch on a ‘Yojimbo’ theme. It would also be nice to do a few Shakespearean adaptions, especially MacBeth and Lear (there is yet another MacBeth film soon to be released apparently).

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Shintsurezuregusa

I am quite new here but I also like the idea of thematically-linked films, as well as the idea of watching Kurosawa-inspired or Kurosawa-esque films. The comparative analysis that this produced previously was very enjoyable to read.

I wonder if we should also include the literature which inspired Kurosawa’s films or which he adapted – Akutagawa, Gorky, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc. Or, adaptations of the same source material? Ugetsu mentioned Shakespeare, but what about, for instance, A Simple Death or Ivan’s XTC, (adaptations of Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich, the source material for Ikiru), or the various adaptations of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, or adaptations of Akutagawa’s In a Bamboo Grove or other films which use the “Rashomon” effect, etc (Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, Gone Girl, Hero, etc.)

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Ugetsu

I think adding in literature is a bit much, although of course some will read the source books as part of the club. I must admit I’m reluctant about this primarily because of my two failed attempts to read The Idiot! There is something about big Russian novels that defeats me. But I do agree that its always very interesting to look at other adaptions of the same work – just as an example, I see there is a new version of Macbeth out, and Michael Fassbender, the star, said that Throne of Blood was by far his favourite film version of the play. I think it would be great to discuss the new Macbeth side by with the Welles and Polanski versions.

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Vili Maunula

Really good ideas, everyone. I think doing films that are out in the theatres (like the new Macbeth or the new Magnificent Seven in 2017) would also be a great way to make it easier for everyone to see the films. Let’s keep that in mind.

As for literature, I would definitely be in for some reading, but we tried it a couple of times and the texts never generated any discussions at all. So, I’m a bit hesitant about it, but we could definitely give it another try if enough of us are interested.

Some groupings could also simply be directors from the same era, like Longstone suggested, or those directors + some other unifying theme.

Any ideas where we could start in September? Macbeth is in theatres this autumn I think, so that could very well be one way to build a schedule — throw in Thone of Blood and Polanski’s film, maybe the Welles version (although we already watched that at some point, didn’t we?), Men of Respect or Scotland, PA, and so on.

But it certainly doesn’t have to be the Scottish play.

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Ugetsu

Just one point on availability – some of the films chosen in the past were really hard to track down (or just very expensive). Sometimes Amazon vendors don’t sell outside their home countries for one reason or another. So until someone decides to make older more obscure films more widely available to download, I’d suggest that focusing on more recent films (especially those on netflix or on wide dvd releases) would help getting more people involved.

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Vili Maunula

We definitely need to make sure that the films are and will be available. I too am tired of hunting down unavailable releases. One reason why we had so many difficult-to-find films was that we devised the schedule for five years in one go, and some films simply became unavailable before we got to them. If we now come up with schedules for half a year at a time, this problem shouldn’t really exist.

The best choices would of course be films that can be streamed (Netflix or such) in many countries. Since none of those services operate where I live, I will need to do some research if it’s possible to somehow find out what’s available and where.

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Vili Maunula

So, any suggestions what to begin with next month? Or should we take a short break?

I was considering Throne of Blood and Macbeth, but it seems like the new Macbeth adaptation won’t have a globally synchronised premiere, and most countries (including the US) don’t even have a release date yet, so it’s pretty impossible to schedule right now.

If we wanted to have the best shot at getting new people involved, we would start with Seven Samurai, but I would like to save that until the new Magnificent Seven comes out in 2017.

Rashomon could be another popular option, it being short, well known and widely available. August will also mark the 65th anniversary of the film’s release. We paired it earlier with The Outrage, so we could now consider films like At the Gate of the Ghost, Tajomaru, Vantage Point, and/or Hoodwinked. But to be honest I’m not really sure about those, as the only good one among them is Hoodwinked. Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell is also sometimes called “Rashomon-like”, but I haven’t seen it yet. I think Brian De Palma’s Snake Eyes could also fit the bill, if we are looking at structurally similar films. Maybe even The Usual Suspects, Citizen Kane, Gone Girl or Memento, which although less directly related, share structural and/or thematic similarities to Rashomon.

Based on a quick research, all of the above should be available on some streaming services and definitely home video. If we did the better known (and higher quality) films, it would probably attract more people, and it might also be interesting to discuss directors like Orson Welles, Bryan Singer, Brian De Palma and Christopher Nolan and how they are or how they aren’t similar to Kurosawa.

Any other suggestions? Doesn’t have to be Rashomon.

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Vili Maunula

I should also have included Hero and Ghost Dog in the list of potential films that we could watch in connection with Rashomon. Shintsurezuregusa mentioned them earlier. I haven’t seen the former, and have only vague recollections of the latter, but I think both should fit the bill and they seem widely available.

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Jon Hooper

I would very much like to participate in the next cycle of discussion and will participate as much as time allows. I used to contribute in the old days and have been hungering to return to Kurosawa. The thematic approach seems very good but I will probably have a problem accessing titles as streaming services and rental options are severely limited in Greece. I am definitely going to get involved whenever my personal collection allows though.

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Vili Maunula

That’s great to hear, Jon! Is there any way for me to check what films might be available for you to watch?

I hope you are doing ok amidst the stormy seas of the Greek economy!

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Jon Hooper

Thanks very much, Vili. It has been a month of worry and it isn’t over yet. As for films I have most of Kurosawa’s but will not be able to buy any new titles unless our fortunes dramatically improve. I should be able to get hold of popular films for comparison but not obscure titles. I will still be able to contribute, though, even if not to every post.

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Ugetsu

I think any one of the major films would be a good start, but I’d also suggest High and Low which seems to have influenced a lot of films. I really will have to look at them side by side, but I’ve always had a feeling that The Bad Sleep Well had a lot of influence on The Godfather, but thats from memory – its been years since I’ve seen the Coppola film – I was remind of it as yet another of those ‘100 best’ lists has declared The Godfather the second best American film ever.

I would agree that Rashomon would be a good start, but I tend to think that most of the films listed as being influenced by it are only influenced in a very tangental way. I always think its more interesting to see films where there is a clear lineage.

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Vili Maunula

Ugetsu: I would agree that Rashomon would be a good start, but I tend to think that most of the films listed as being influenced by it are only influenced in a very tangental way. I always think its more interesting to see films where there is a clear lineage.

Personally, I think both are potentially interesting approaches: direct and tangential influences. And in the case of Rashomon, the more or less direct remakes just aren’t very good and/or that widely available, so I think we would be better off using the film as a spring board for a wider discussion of themes, topics and directors that have been influenced by it.

Since Rashomon seems like a more or less agreeable starting point for everyone, and since the month will change again next week, I decided to come up with a concrete suggestion. I looked at the availability of films and also read through the Rashomon sections of Martinez‘s book on Kurosawa remakes. Would this be an agreeable plan and are these films that everyone here could get hold of?

August: Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950)
We will rewatch the original to kick off our discussion. Widely available.

September: The Usual Suspects (Singer, 1995)
An example of rashomonesque unreliable narration featuring just one narrator. I would choose this over other similar films, such as Memento, Gone Girl and Citizen Kane, due to the film’s better general availability and because it is probably the most often cited Rashomon influenced Hollywood film.

October: Les Girls (Cukor, 1957)
Martinez’s discussion of Rashomon remakes notes two films which she believes “seem truer to Kurosawa’s point about the human heart than do the more faithful remakes, despite the fact that the plots of both films only resemble the original in terms of some of their narrative structure” (65). Of these two films, Cukor’s Les Girls appears to be more easily attainable (it’s both streaming and very affordable second hand) than the Italian Four Times That Night, so I would suggest that we watch it.

November: Hoodwinked! (Edwards, 2005)
An example of a film which fairly closely utilizes Rashomon‘s narrative structure, and one that is better (and certainly funnier) than films like Vantage Point. A little like Rashomon, it also reinterprets something from the past, or from the mythic domain of storytelling. It seems to be widely available.

December: Hero (Yimou, 2002)
An example of unreliable and conflicting narration. I really wanted to include at least one Asian film in our list and since At the Gate of the Ghost (a direct remake of Rashomon) isn’t that widely available, I think we’ll be fine with Hero. We can also discuss Kurosawa’s influence (if any) on martial arts films.

January: Ghost Dog (Jarmusch, 1999)
A film which at its very core emphasises the subjectivity and uncertainty of perception and makes numerous references to Rashomon. The film also shares themes with many other Kurosawa films, especially Yojimbo and Seven Samurai. Widely and cheaply available for digital rental and purchase.

That would be a schedule for half a year, and cover, I think, various aspects of Rashomon.

No one of course has to restrict themselves to the above films, and I’d be happy to try and hunt down some of the following films and discuss them alongside the “official” schedule. Some of these I have already seen, some I even own, others are new to me.

Do comment on the schedule and also feel free to add to the above list!

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Ugetsu

I think that looks really good and interesting, I would not argue with any of your film choices there. The only thing I’d say is that perhaps there could be another Kurosawa in there somewhere that we could specifically discuss things like subjectivity within his films. There was one of his films I remember wondering if there were shadows of Rashomon in it, but its completely slipped my mind what it might be.

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Vili Maunula

Might the film you are thinking about be Scandal, Ugetsu? Record of a Living Being is another one that comes to mind.

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Ugetsu

I think it might be Scandal – I can’t quite recall in what context I was thinking of it, but in this thread we did discuss the notion that Rashomon was the culmination of several films in which Kurosawa was examining the notion of war guilt and the emasculation of Japan as a free nation. I think I was taking this from Martinez’s theory (which I really like) that critics have tended to underestimate the importance of ‘guilt’ as a driving force behind the characters in Rashomon, and the manner in which this was intended as a reference to post war guilt and the reinvention of Japan as a pacifist nation.

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Vili Maunula

There is that, and additionally Scandal also brings up questions about the notion of objective truth, to the point where we as the audience are more than justified to ask if the tabloid’s reporting about the alleged affair is closer to the truth than Aoye himself realises. Also, while in Rashomon we have the camera (through characters’ point of view) lying (or presenting subjective truths) to the audience, in Scandal we have a photograph that does something similar to the tabloid readers. I do think that Scandal is in many ways something of a stepping stone towards the themes presented in Rashomon.

You mentioned the idea of including more than one Kurosawa film in the sequence. That is certainly possible. Another option could be to dedicate August to something like “Rashomon and the notion of truth in Kurosawa’s films”, in which case Rashomon would still be intended as the primary film to watch, but with a specific thematic focus that woud not only widen the net to Kurosawa’s oeuvre as a whole but would also prepare us for the topics that we will undoubtedly be covering during the next five months. I am in any case hoping that even after August, Rashomon and other Kurosawa films will be at the back of our minds while watching all those other films (while, and as always, all topics whether Kurosawa related or not are of course more than welcome).

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Ugetsu

Vili:

Another option could be to dedicate August to something like “Rashomon and the notion of truth in Kurosawa’s films”, in which case Rashomon would still be intended as the primary film to watch, but with a specific thematic focus that woud not only widen the net to Kurosawa’s oeuvre as a whole but would also prepare us for the topics that we will undoubtedly be covering during the next five months.

I think thats a great idea – actually having a specific theme rather than just the film itself could be a good way to focus and develop discussion.

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Vili Maunula

Ok, since the month will be changing in a couple of days, let’s go with the “Rashomon and the notion of truth in Kurosawa’s films” idea. I’ll try to come up with an introduction for Saturday. 🙂

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Ugetsu

Sounds good!

In the spirit of the film, we can all come up with an individual subjective interpretation of the theme anyway.

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Vili Maunula

I wouldn’t have it any other way!

In anticipation of what is to come, I spent yesterday typing up a Rashomon filmography page, the first one of the new filmography pages that I’ll be adding. Not quite mobile friendly yet and some content is undoubtedly missing, but take a look if you have the time.

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Vili Maunula

Any thoughts on what we should watch next? I just realised it’s time to come up with plans again.

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Ugetsu

I wish I could suggest something original, but I can’t think of anything at the moment. Have we actually done all Kurosawa’s films? I can’t recall discussing ‘The Most Beautiful’?

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Vili Maunula

In theory, we have done each Kurosawa film twice by now, and some three times. Both times we had The Most Beautiful were in 2010, first in June and then again in October.

But it could be interesting to return to the film, perhaps as part of a Kurosawa centric “film as propaganda” series. Off the top of my head, titles could include:

– The Most Beautiful (Kurosawa)
– Sanshiro Sugata Part II (Kurosawa)
– Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)
– Olympia (Riefenstahl)
– Why We Fight (Capra)
– Listen to Britain (Jennings & McAllister)
– Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors (Seo)
– Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (LeRoy)

The two Kurosawa films would probably be a given. As for the other films, in addition to discussing the works themselves, Potemkin would give us a chance to discuss Kurosawa’s debt to Eisenstein and Russian cinema. Olympia would allow us to speculate what the film on the 1964 Tokyo Olympics would have looked like had Kurosawa directed it as he was originally contracted to do — this is why I would choose it over Triumph of the Will.

Capra’s series is another classic of the genre and the director’s influence on Kurosawa is of course well documented. Since the full series clocks in at over seven hours, we could concentrate on episodes 1 and 6 which deal with Japan. Listen to Britain is quite wonderful artistically, and could be a place to discuss sound’s importance in conveying meaning.

The last two films I haven’t seen but understand them to be more conventional propaganda vehicles. Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors was I think the first full-length anime while Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo was a box office hit in the US.

The availability of these films is questionable, by which I mean that most of them at least appear to be available on YouTube, but how legally or permanently that is, I don’t know. Some are available on home video releases. None appear to be on Netflix, which finally arrived here as well.

It would be great if we could watch more Japanese propaganda films of the era, something by Kajiro Yamamoto perhaps, or any of the films starring Shirley Yamaguchi. Unfortunately, these don’t seem to be available with subtitles.

Of course, feel free to suggest other films in the genre. The above are just what came to my mind, among films like Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and the always wonderful Casablanca, for which I couldn’t think of a strong enough Kurosawa connection.

So, a series of propaganda films could be one idea for now or later. It would even thematically flow quite naturally from our Rashomon series. Thoughts?

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Ugetsu

I think having a theme of propaganda films is a great idea – the only problem, as you suggest, is availability. I think it would be a real struggle to get to see some of the films unless they are on Youtube.

I really like the idea of seeing some Eisenstein in that certainly he was a huge influence on Kurosawa – I suspect maybe more than the American directors often mentioned, such as Ford.

If that theme doesn’t work out, a similar one might be films made in the immediate aftermath of war, sometimes literally in the rubble of war. The Kurosawa examples are obvious, while it would give us an example to look at immediate contemporaries of Kurosawa in the same situation – films like The Bicycle Thieves, Rome, Open City, The Third Man, A Matter of Life and Death, etc.

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Longstone

There are some Japanese wartime films easily available , Ozu’s “There was a father” ( 1942 ) for example.
Plus the Kinoshita Eclipse set ” Kinoshita and World War II” which features four wartime films, two from 1943 and two from 1944 . In addition it has one post war film so you can see the contrast from Japanese censorship rules to occupation rules. Also Mizoguchi’s 47 Ronin ( 1941/42) is interesting in that context, plus it’s available on a good quality and affordable Australian DVD .
Rome Open City has recently been released on a fantastic Blu-ray set by the BFI as part of the ” War Trilogy ” box set .
There are also a reasonable choice of Immediate post war Japanese films available.

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Vili Maunula

In case there are no better ideas or strong voices of dissent, I am leaning heavily towards the propaganda films, in which case we would start with The Most Beautiful next week. The rest of the selection is still a bit of an open question due to availability, but I’ll try to see what is practical.

I would love to watch one of Kinoshita’s wartime films. But would everyone be ready to invest in the Eclipse set? I think I would, especially if most of the other films can if needed be found on YouTube (albeit in a less than stellar condition).

As for 47 Ronin, we actually watched it six years ago, but if there is interest in it, we can definitely return to it. Or we can have it as extra curriculum. To be honest, I vaguely remember not having been very fond of it.

I’ll try to come up with a preliminary schedule this weekend. Send in suggestions, if something comes to your mind.

After the propaganda films, I would follow the series with immediate postwar cinema as you guys suggested. Films from Japan, Europe, US, elsewhere. Depending on how many films we fit into the propaganda set, this would probably start sometime towards the end of the year.

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Longstone

Sounds good, maybe the 49th Parallel ( 1941 ) could be a possible British film addition to the propaganda list , I think that’s available ?
Also the Jennings film is easily available on a BFI compilation The Complete Humphrey Jennings Vol 2 .

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Vili Maunula

Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. Having said that, I confess that I may have gone a little overboard with this.

In the end, I would propose no less than 13 months of propaganda films. And that doesn’t mean 13 films but about 26. Hey, where are you running to? Come back! It’s not as bad as it sounds. The films here are really interesting.

The reason for the double number of titles is that in addition to main features, I have added shorter “extra curriculum” films which mostly run for under 30 minutes and are (as everything else) totally optional. The idea would be to introduce these mid-way through the months as little snacks. Most of them are in some way connected to the main feature, although there is also a mini Naruse series in there, and I have also tried to fit in short propaganda films from well known directors.

Apart from the Eisenstein which I felt must absolutely be here, I have limited us to World War II propaganda. Although there are many great propaganda films outside of that time period, I think this focuses us nicely and paves way to our next series on postwar cinema.

Almost all of these films are available cheaply on home video, and almost all of them can also be streamed for free, one way or another. Since I’m not entirely certain about the legality of the streaming solutions, some links may of course disappear, and if there are no alternative links we’ll have to react accordingly and change some titles. But as long as the films are available on YouTube, Archive.org and other places, at least availability shouldn’t be a problem. Print quality may of course sometimes be questionable.

In addition to the two Kurosawa films which I assume most of you already have, the only necessary major purchase should be the Eclipse box set on Kinoshita’s wartime films (unless you have Hulu). We’ll watch one of them as a main film and another as its extracurricular pair (the only full length extra here). I can also promise that we’ll try to fit the box set’s postwar work Morning in the Osone Family into the next series on films dealing with the postwar rubble, so the box set should definitely be worth investing into.

Hopefully the above explains some of my thinking behind the schedule below. Let me know what you think!

PROPOSED SCHEDULE

February 2016
The Most Beautiful
Akira Kurosawa / 1944 / 85 minutes
Kicks off our series of propaganda films.
Availability: home video, Hulu (US).
Extra curriculum: Training Women for War Production (US / 1942 / 9 minutes)

March 2016
Battleship Potemkin
Sergei Eisenstein / 1925 / 75 minutes
Revolutionary propaganda meets revolutionary filmmaking. Eisenstein’s influence of Kurosawa.
Availability: home video, YouTube, Archive
Extra curriculum: What Hitler Wants (USSR / 1941 / 8 minutes)

April 2016
Olympia
Leni Riefenstahl / 1938 / 226 minutes
A masterclass in cinematic visuals. Paired with Listen to Britan, a masterclass in auditory cinema. What would Kurosawa’s film on Tokyo Olympics have looked like?
Availability: home video, Youtube (part 1, part 2)
Extra curriculum: Listen to Britain (Jennings & McAllister / 1942 / 19 minutes)

May 2016
The Great Dictator
Charlie Chaplin / 1940 / 124 minutes
Satire as propaganda. Kurosawa and silent film.
Availability: home video, Hulu (US), YouTube, rentable (in some countries) from Amazon
Extra curriculum: Donald Duck: Der Fuehrer’s Face (Jack Kinney / 1943 / 8 minutes)

June 2016
Jud Süß
Veit Harlan / 1940 / 98 minutes
A big box office success from Germany which also worked as a propaganda film.
Availability: home video, Youtube, Archive
Extra curriculum: Death Mills (Billy Wilder / 1945 / 22 minutes)

July 2016
49th Parallel
Michael Powell / 1941 / 123 minutes
A big box office success from the UK which also worked as a propaganda film. Escapism as propaganda.
Availability: home video, Youtube, Archive, rentable (in some countries) from iTunes, Amazon
Extra curriculum: Aventure Malgache (Alfred Hitchcock / 1944 / 30 minutes)

August 2016
Casablanca
Michael Curtiz / 1942 / 102 minutes
A big box office success from the US which also worked as a propaganda film. Escapism as propaganda.
Availability: home video, rentable (in some countries) from iTunes, Amazon, Play Store, YouTube
Extra curriculum: The Whole Family Works (Mikio Naruse / 1939 / 65 minutes)

September 2016
Sanshiro Sugata Part II
Akira Kurosawa / 1945 / 83 minutes
Kicks off the second half of our propaganda series, with increased focus on confrontation.
Availability: home video, Hulu (US)
Extra curriculum: A Face from the Past (Mikio Naruse / 1941 / 34 minutes)

October 2016
Army
Keisuke Kinoshita / 1943 / 82 minutes
Japanese military propaganda. Kinoshita as a major Japanese director. Combined with another Kinoshita film to make it more attractive to buy the Eclipse set.
Availability: home video, Hulu (US)
Extra curriculum: Port of Flowers (Kinoshita / 1943 / 82 minutes)

November 2016
Why We Fight: Prelude to War & The Battle of China
Frank Capra / 1942 & 1944 / 52 & 62 minutes
Probably the best known Allied propaganda documentary series. Capra and Kurosawa.
Availability: home video, YouTube
Extra curriculum: The rest of the documentary series

December 2016
Colonel Kato’s Falcon Squadron
Kajiro Yamamoto / 1944 / 110 minutes
Military action propaganda and a box office success from Kurosawa’s mentor. Yamamoto’s influence on Kurosawa. What would Kurosawa’s cancelled zero fighter film have looked like? (If Yamamoto’s earlier The Sea War from Hawaii to Malaya happens to appear anywhere with subtitles, we might watch that instead.)
Availability: YouTube
Extra curriculum: The Battle of Midway (John Ford / 1942 / 18 minutes)

January 2017
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Mervyn LeRoy / 1944 / 138 minutes
US military action propaganda about the response to Pearl Harbor. Relationship with Tora! Tora! Tora!.
Availability: home video, Archive
Extra curriculum: Winning Your Wings (John Huston & Owen Crump / 1942 / 18 minutes)

February 2017
Momotaro’s Divide Sea Warriors
Mitsuyo Sei / 1945 / 74 minutes
First Japanese full length animated film, naval propaganda. Animation as propaganda.
Availability: YouTube
Extra curriculum: Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (Fritz Freleng / 1944 / 8 minutes)

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Ugetsu

That looks great! Can’t wait to dive in to some of those.

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Longstone

I agree a very interesting list and great subject . I will try harder to keep up this time , every time you publish the new list I think great, this year I’ll follow properly, but then get totally out of touch , I’ve only just watched the restored Tora Tora Tora and the supplements , and just started reading All The Emperor’s Men ( which I wouldn’t have known about if not for this site) which indicates how far behind I am . I still have the Magnificent Seven Blu-ray in my stack too waiting to get it’s first viewing since it was discussed here.
But I always enjoy reading everyone else’s comments which are a great reference when I do finally catch up with the films.

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