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Anthropology 150 - Japanese Society, Period Films Guide

A list of resources for. Dr. Hamada's ANTH 150 - Japanese Society

Sengoku Period:

Kagemusha (1980, dir. Akira Kurosawa, mus. Shin’ichiro Ikebe)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 S24 K344 2005 DVD
Description: This film marked the beginning of Kurosawa’s late period and is about a dying lord and the common thief who is trained to impersonate him to keep rival warlords off-balance. It was Ikebe’s first score with Kurosawa and is largely Western in style in orientation with a few moments of traditional instruments.

Onibaba (1964, dir. Kaneto Shindo, mus. Hikaru Hayashi)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 S24 O652 2004 DVD
Description: This dramatic horror film is set against the civil war gripping Japan in the fourteenth century and tells the story of two women who rob fleeing soldiers of their armor and weapons. The film uses very little music, most of it more modern in style.

Ran (1985, dir. Akira Kurosawa, mus. Toru Takemitsu)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 F67 R36 2003 DVD
Description: Kurosawa’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear Fictional figures is one of his greatest visual films. And while, like Lear, the characters are entirely fictional, this film draws heavily on the music and style of Noh theatre. Takemitsu’s score features numerous uses of traditional instruments while also, at times, mimicking the style of European composer Gustav Mahler.

The Samurai Trilogy (1954-56, dir. Hiroshi Inagaki, mus. Ikuma Dan)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 S24 S25 2012 DVD
Description: Three films that tell a story set at the end of the Sengoku period and the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate and based upon the story of the historical figure, Miyamoto Mushashi. The film scores use Western instruments in a style reminiscent of traditional Japanese music. There are also instances of on-screen performances of traditional music and theatre.

Seven Samurai (1954, dir. Akira Kurosawa, mus. Fumio Hayasaka)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 S24 S55 DVD
Click to View on Kanopy
Description/Notes: Set against the backdrop of the warring states, this movie is about the effects of war and those who would take advantage of it through banditry on the commoners. Remade countless times, the story is quite familiar to audiences by now, but this is the original. Among Hayasaka’s last scores, it hews more closely to Western musical styles, though features a few instances of traditional Japanese music along with hints of jazz in the theme of Toshiro Mifune’s memorable character, Kikuchiyo. Note: There are two halves to this film.

The Throne of Blood (1957, dir. Akira Kurosawa, mus. Masaru Sato)
Swem Call Number: PN2823 A23 K8 2003 DVD
Click to View on Kanopy
Description: Kurosawa’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is drenched in the trappings and symbolism of Noh theatre. The score draws equally on Wester music and traditional Japanese instruments, blending them to create and eerie atmosphere against which this story of spirits and prophecy takes place.

Ugetsu (1953, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, mus. Fumio Hayasaka)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 F67 U34 2005 DVD
Click to View on Kanopy
Description: Based on a collection of ghost stories, this film tells of the effects of on the common people as a husband is lured into a relationship with a spirit of a dead aristocrat, abandoning his own wife and child. Hayasaka’s score blends traditional and Western musical elements, with some symbolism of when and how the distinct styles merge and separate.