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Playing at the film club: Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa)

San Juan’s new book

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    Lewis Saul

    wow, long time, no post!

    Eric San Juan’s new book really blew me away. His refreshingly original analyses are really terrific, and I love the way he treats the “minor” films as lovingly as Richie and others did NOT!

    I finally watched SONG OF THE HORSE (1971) and was so bored that it made me feel terrible that I was watching something that Kurosawa actually made. [even though Vili was a source!] I’d much rather see THOSE WHO MADE TOMORROW, however that seems not only unlikely, but probably impossible.

    I pointed out to San Juan that there is an error on p. 53 (QUIET DUEL), where he states that the viewer sees Nakata’s dead baby. He wrote me back and admitted that it should have read the *character* of Nakata sees his dead baby — not us the viewer.

    It’s nice to be back after all these years. I’ve got weeks and weeks of catching up to do here!

    **

    re: CRITERION COLLECTION:

    I spent years and years — but I finally have a complete collection — Spine #1 through #961 (as of today!) … we are all taking guesses at what Spine #1000 will be … I’m hoping it will be a massive, complete AK collection — and from what I can tell, only QUIET DUEL seems to have rights issues.

    Anybody here no anything about that?

    — Lew Saul

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    Patrick Galvan

    I’ve read about half of San Juan’s book. I think it’s wonderful that someone set out to write a very down-to-earth, “for the average moviegoer” book on Kurosawa, as I think books of that nature are just as useful and enjoyable to read as the more academic studies.

    I caught another error, this one in the “Stray Dog” chapter, where San Juan said Ishiro Honda gave the eulogy at Kurosawa’s funeral. It was actually the other way around, as Honda died in 1993 and Kurosawa died five years later.

    I also found it interesting that a lot of the photographs in the book (at least in the Kindle version) are credited to Toei instead of Toho. Toho is notoriously controlling and lawsuit-happy when it comes to using photographs in material they themselves don’t commission/authorize and have taken legal action against many authors over the years. That said, I wonder why Toei would be allowed to have possession of photographs from Toho films as well as the right to distribute them to authors and publishing houses. Though I suppose it could be a typo or maybe just an issue with the Kindle version (I really don’t know how the publishing industry works).

    In regards to “Those Who Make Tomorrow,” Kyoko Hirano’s descriptions of the movie in her 1991 book “Mr. Smith Goes to Tokyo: Japanese Cinema Under the Occupation” are so precise and exact (right down to lines of dialogue and choices of composition) that one cannot help but suspect she somehow managed to see the movie while she was researching her book in the ’80s. I suspect Toho has a copy of the film in their archives and she probably managed to see it that way. But it certainly does not appear to be available on home media anywhere. That is, unfortunately, the case of many Japanese films from that time period. A great many of Ishiro Honda’s non-genre pictures have never been put on disc, either, even though Toho has prints of pretty much all of them.

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    Lewis Saul

    My hardcover is all TOHO. “know” not “no” above.

    AK on THOSE WHO MAKE … “it makes me sleepy.” 🙄

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    Patrick Galvan

    Kyoko Hirano doesn’t write very enthusiastically about Those Who Make Tomorrow in her book, either. The only person who really seems to have been taken with the film was CI&E’s David Conde — not surprising as the movie was more or less a pet project between him and Toho’s unionists. As Kurosawa said, it was a movie made by committee.

    That said, I would jump at a chance to see Those Who Make Tomorrow if it ever became available. Not only is it part of a major director’s oeuvre, but that general period of Japanese film of the wartime/immediate postwar era really fascinates me. Even the lousiest films from that time period are interesting in that they oftentimes reflect the political landscape that was dictating the content of movies. For instance, I recently saw Keisuke Kinoshita’s Marriage which is not an overtly political movie, though it does subtly reflect a lot of occupation-era politics such as the right of young people to choose who they want to marry rather than allowing their families to decide for them; and there is a scene where a young couple is walking through the city when an organized labor parade starts marching down the street. It has nothing to do with the overall plot of the movie (and the demonstrators are never seen again), it’s just a little reflection of what was going on politically in the country at the time.

    By all accounts, Those Who Make Tomorrow was blatantly political. And though I have a feeling it would bore me into submission as I watched it, I’m sure I’d find it incredibly fascinating to think about afterward.

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    Lewis Saul

    Agreed. Anything from the Occupation period is fascinating just for the simple reason that it comes from that period of history. Hirano’s well-researched book is incredible.

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