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Anthropology 150 - Japanese Society, Period Films Guide

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

Edo Period (Tokugawa Shogunate):

The 47 Ronin, Parts 1 and 2 (1941, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, mus. Shiro Fukai)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 S24 F677 1999 DVD
Click to View Part 1 on Kanopy
Click to View Part 2 on Kanopy
Description/Notes: Based on the classic story of the loyal 47 samurai who avenged their master, Kenji Mizoguchi’s two-part adaptation was released during the height of ultra-nationalism in war-time Japan. The musical score itself is entirely Western classical in style, but the film features many depictions of Noh theatre and on-screen traditional music, especially in the second part.

Harakiri (1962, dir. Masaki Kobayashi, mus. Toru Takemitsu)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 S24 S477 2005 DVD
Click to View on Kanopy
Description: Masaki Kobayashi’s classic tale of a ronin seeking an honorable death by seppuku probes into the ideas of the samurai bushido code. Toru Takemitsu’s score is at times both modern and traditional, using traditional instruments in unusual ways.

The Life of Oharu (1952, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, mus. Ichiro Saito)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 F67 S35 2013 DVD
Description: This is a tragic story of love set in the Edo period as a woman has a love affair with someone of a lower standing and he is executed and the woman is exiled. Things only get worse from there. The music is all traditional instruments with the line between what is on-screen and off is at times blurred.

The Lower Depths (1957, dir. Akira Kurosawa, mus. Masaru Sato)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 F67 L694 2004 DVD
Click to View on Kanopy
Description: This film is an adaptation of a play by Maxim Gorky, with the setting changed to Edo period Japan. It tells the story of a number of lower class people living in a tenement house with a few instruments of song. The musical score is largely absent save from some gong strikes and other percussion at the opening and close of the film. Note: In both the DVD and Kanopy version there are two films included, one a French adaptation by Jean Renoir and the other by Kurosawa. Make sure you view the correct one!

Utamaro and his Five Women (1946, dir. Kenji Mizguchi, mus. Tamezo Mochizuki, Hisato Osawa)
Swem Call Number: PN1995.9 F67 U84 2012 DVD
Description: This film is a fictionalized account of the life of ukiyo-e artist Kitagawa Utamaro. It was Mizoguchi’s first film made under the American Occupation of Japan and its score is mainly traditional instruments with some Western one, though they are never used at the same time. Note: The DVD is Region 2 encoded and might not be playable on all DVD players.