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Great Kanto Earthquake: The Movie

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    OK, Ok, so for years ever since I read “Something Like an Autobiography” I have felt the the section about the 1923 Kant? quake when AK was 13 would make a really great movie. Doesn’t have to be AK as a boy or anything, just the basic events and mood AK presents in this chapter of the book. There is something very haunting, terrifying, exciting and sobering about what he talks about that could translate to a very visceral piece of filmmaking like Elem Klimov’s Come and See; A devastating event from the viewpoint of an adolescent.



    Sort of related to your comments, Ben:

    – the Chris Marker documentary contained on Criterion’s ‘Ran’ DVD set contains some footage of the Great Kanto Earthquake – quite horrifying, indeed

    – in addition, J. Hammer’s book “Yokohama Burning” gives an excellent overview of the events of this earthquake and its aftermath – a fascinating, engrossing read.



    I agree that could be a great film, if it could capture the way AK speaks of it.

    With very limited dialogue and a art direction similar to Polanski’s The Pianist, it would be very strong visually.




    Re: Marker’s Ran doc

    That’s right! I haven’t seen it since the DVD was released so I completely forgot.

    I’m gonna try and check out Hammer’s book too.


    Absolutely one would have to limit the dialogue and you know the art direction and production design of The Pianist is a damn good example.

    I really wish I had my copy of “Something…” with me right now. I moved across country – back to my childhood home of DC – and left most of my stuff in the southwest.



    I intended to mention in my last post but forgot.

    Is there any translated Japanese book about Kanto earthquake out there?

    Hammer’s book is a good read, but nearly ignores the Japanese and only focuses on the American colony. Also it seems Hammer knows very little about the Japanese and then his theory about the rise of militarism is largely unproven and even in some points completely wrong.

    I would suggest looking into Seidensticker’s “Tokyo Rising”, although a bit of a wondering book, it offers a far more realistic look at the uprising of new Japan due to the earthquake. Although it roughly begins after the earthquake, so its more a pre WWII book, rather then Hammer’s post earthquake.

    But if you only pick on book, to me, Seidensticker’s “Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake” is properly the best of the earthquake books. It covers a large area of information before the events, which really helps to understand the effects of the earthquake and even more the effects of the new Japan. It’s very interesting to read the changes in Japanese mindsets and way of life, as they are forced new ways but told to remember the old ways.

    Japan still deals with this to some degree, a strange mixture of the old battling the new.

    When I was studying Japanese history in college and part of my obsession with all things WWII. I found the book “Tokyo: The City at the End of the World” by Popham to be a very enjoyable and learning read.

    It is really outdated, Tokyo is nothing today,. like what is written, but something to consider one day.

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