Gate of Hell (1953, dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa, mus. Yasushi Akutagawa)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 S24 J546 2013 DVD
Description: This film was the first Japanese film to win Best Foreign Film in the Oscars and was also the first color film made in Japan. It is a story of rebellion and love at the end of Heina period and features a score heavily drawn from traditional Japanese music blended with Western orchestra, much like what other composers, notably Fumio Hayasaka, were doing at the time. The DVD for this is in Off-site storage and must be requested.
Rashomon (1950, dir. Akira Kurosawa, mus. Fumio Hayasaka)
Swem Call Number: PL801 K8 R32 2012 DVD Click to View on Kanopy
Description: The film that introduced Wester audiences to Japanese cinema (and my own entry point into it), Kurosawa’s landmark film looks at a terrible incident from multiple viewpoints, asking us what is real and who can be trusted. Likewise, Hayasaka’s score is among the earliest to attempt the type of blending of Western and Japanese featured in many later scores, creating a fusion style most notably heard in the opening and closing credits.
Sansho the Bailiff (1954, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, mus. Fumio Hayasaka)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 F67 S456 2007 DVD Click to View on Kanopy
Description: Based on ancient Japanese story, Sansho tells the story of two children sold into slavery after their father, a high ranking court official, is sent into exile. The children and their mother captured by slave traders and sold off and spent most of their childhood and adolescence trying to escape and be reunited with their parents. The score by Fumio Hayasaka features a blending of traditional instruments and styles with Western orchestra. It also includes many on-screen performances of traditional music and court rituals.
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945, dir. Akira Kurosawa, mus. Tadashi Hattori)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 S24 T672 2010 DVD
Description: This adaptation of both a Noh and Kabkui play was censored by both the Japanese government at the end of World War II and the American Occupation in 1945, though for different reasons, and was not released until the 1950s. It tells the story of Yoshitsune and his escape from his brother during a period of struggle in Japan. The music is largely Western, with some adaptations of Japanese musical styles to Western instruments.