It’s interesting to contemplate books that were written before the w.w.w was invented, the breadth of this book is still awe inspiring, to have the synopsis of so many films and directors makes this an impressive and hugely resourceful volume. Richie splits his book into two parts, focusing on the time periods, 1896 – 1945 and 1946 – 1971, this latter period has the most pages devoted to it. Coming with the subtitle; Film Style and National Character, Richie steers the book toward relating national characteristics with those expressed through it’s film, homing in on differences between the concepts of film appreciation between the West and Japan. The book was published back in 1971 and is an updated and expanded edition of a previous book Japanese Movies from 1961, this edition was published by Secker & Warburg. Rather than being a technical history, the book is presented in a thematical way, Richie points to the presence of Mono no aware and points to moments where Western and Japanese cinema diverge. In the first section of the book Richie follows the formation of cinematic genres, the Haha-mono, (mother movie) and Tsuma-mono, (wife movie), and charts the rise of Mizoguchi and sings the praises of Sadao Yamanaka’s Humanity and Paper Balloons/Ninjo Kami fusen, among many other movies. The book ends on an exploration of the movies of Kurosawa, Richie admits that if forced Seven Samurai could be his favourite Japanese film of all time and in his description it’s difficult to disagree.
The book is available to read and downloand online.