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Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context
304pp. January 2006
Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context
Author: McDonald, Keiko I.;
A Choice Outstanding Academic Book

Reading a Japanese Film, written by a pioneer of Japanese film studies in the United States, provides viewers new to Japanese cinema with the necessary tools to construct a deeper understanding of some of the most critically acclaimed and thoroughly entertaining films ever made. In her introduction, Keiko McDonald presents a historical overview and outlines a unified approach to film analysis. Sixteen "readings" of films currently available on DVD with English subtitles put theory into practice as she considers a wide range of work, from familiar classics by Ozu and Kurosawa to the films of a younger generation of directors.


"[This book] will give anyone who qualifies their interest in Japanese cinema as even the slightest bit serious the solid basis they need to delve further into the wealth of more specific writing on the subject, not to mention provide a fresh look at the films themselves. After reading McDonald’s new book, it is virtually guaranteed that you will be giving even well-worn standards like Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy, Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba, or Takeshi Kitano’s Kids Return another spin—and look at them with a fresh pair of eyes. . . . Reading a Japanese Film gives you what all good books on cinema should: a deeper understanding and a resonant appreciation of the films themselves and the culture that made them." —Midnight Eye: The Latest and Best in Japanese Cinema (6 November 2006)

"Exemplary. . . . Read in conjunction with a viewing of the films, this volume is almost a Japanese cinema course in itself." —Choice

"I know of no other work on Japanese cinema in English that covers such a wide range of important films. Each chapter of Reading a Japanese Film provides background information on the director and the historical period in which the film was made and places each film within a sociocultural framework. Keiko McDonald is an important scholar and critic of Japanese cinema with a writing style that is engaging, insightful, and, at the same time, highly accessible. Her close, and caring, readings help bring the films to life for beginning students and experienced viewers alike." —Linda Ehrlich, Case Western Reserve University

"Here is a much needed book, an expert’s explication of the Japaneseness of the Japanese film, and an adroit teaching on how to read and to savor the ensuing experience." —Donald Richie, author of A Hundred Years of Japanese Film

Author: McDonald, Keiko I.;
Keiko I. McDonald is professor of Japanese cinema and literature at the University of Pittsburgh.
Read the table of contents and/or the introduction (PDF).