Japanese Films

I have been interested in Japanese films ever since I saw a truncated 16mm version of Kurosawa's Shichinin no Samurai (1954) in a summer camp about 20 years ago. In recent years, new releases by the likes of KORE-EDA Hirokazu or MIYAZAKI Hayao have excited me more than any animated feature that came out of Hollywood (with the possible exception of Brad Bird's films).

It was only a matter of time until my passion would surface on this blog and since in 2012 I have excessively written about Japanese films I have decided to add a table of contents (that I hope to be able to update now and then) to these scattered posts here:

Japanese Film History:
Respectful Distance: The Telephoto Lens in Japanese Cinema
With the help of screenshots from (among others) Kurosawa's Kagemusha (1980) I try to show how Japanese woodblock printing has influenced staging and cinematography.

Respectful Distance: Kore-eda Hirokazu: Part 1
Film style analysis: Hirokazu Kore-eda is one of Japan's most interesting contemporary directors. Contrary to the classical drama concept of revealing character in how they react to extraordinary circumstances, Kore-eda reveals the personalities of his characters through daily routine situations. Although he does not force identification on his audience, he is able to deeply move spectators around the world.

Respectful Distance: Kore-eda Hirokazu: Part 2
Film style analysis: More often than not, Kore-eda's camera waits respectfully at a distance, is already there before someone enters a room and waits for the characters to leave again. Kore-eda's scant use of shot - reverse-shot setups is supporting his unique downplay of emotional moments.

Takahata and Miyazaki:
Panorama no Haiji
Reconstructed background pans from Takahata's groundbreaking TV-series Arupusu no Shojo Haiji (Heidi, Girl of the Alps, 1974).

reconstruced Haiji background pan
Miyazaki's 70th Birthday
Reconstructed background pans from Miyazaki's first feature Rupan Sansei (Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, 1979).

Laputa - Castle in the Sky (I): Characters in Different Lighting Situations
Analysis of how lighting affects character colors in a film that reminds me in many ways of old Technicolor swashbuckler movies.

Laputa - Castle in the Sky (II): Strange Reflections
A detailled analysis of the effect of visible light underground light sources on character and background colors and what extra information arises from these reflections.

Laputa - Castle in the Sky (III): Red Pirates - Green Soldiers
Two opposing groups of people are characterized by complementary colors that also connect them to their own environment.
Complementary colors in Laputa (1986).

Kindred Spirits: Miyazaki and McCay
Two giants of animation share a passion of flying and oversized air crafts.

Howl's Moving Castle Screening
Preview of a lecture on Miyazaki's adaptation of an English fantasy novel features a comparison of "flying kayaks" as imagined by turn of the century visionary Albert Robida and in the final film.

A Sense of Wonder: Some Thoughts on PONYO
Master film maker Miyazaki Hayao proves the power of hand drawn animation. Even more so than in his recent epic fantasies he doesn’t care for classical plot construction or superfluous explanations. Instead, Ponyo is truly cinematic in its uncompromised artistic vision and simultaneously the first genuine children’s movie I’ve seen in a long time.

Traces of Miyazaki in Pixar's BRAVE
Have Pixar's filmmakers finally been able to learn from their love for studio Ghibli films?

No comments: