Not Only Anime: 10 Masterpieces Of Japanese Cinema


10 masterpieces of Japanese cinema you need to know about

The first film studio appeared in the Land of the Rising Sun in 1908, however, we still know to the point of indecency little information about Japanese cinema. The best college paper writing service has decided to fix this defect and offers its customers and visitors top 10 the most various movies. So, choose and watch.

1. “Rashomon”. The film created by Akira Kurosawa in 1950. A short story “In a Grove” has become film base. Thanks to “Rashomon”, world society noticed and began to discuss Japanese cinematography. Rashomon is not a human name or a hieroglyph naming, but a stone gate, in ruins of which several witnesses of a crime wait out a thunder-storm. Dramatic searching of truth lasts for 88 minutes. What of cruel murder and rape versions is truthful? Black and white tape of Kurosawa is a quintessence of reflections on real essence of a human soul, which create base of director’s art. Japanese cinema stars of middle fifties adorned the movie with their perfect play. However, it did not have much success within its motherland. But “Rashomon” got international acclaim: it got two Venetian Festival awards, two USA National Council of Film Critics awards and “Oscar” as the best film in a foreign language. Anyone, who is interested in top film festival issue, has opportunity check out our professionally written essay on this subject. Keep in mind, any customer, new or returning, has possibility to order any kind of services related to academic paper creation.

2. “The Idiot”. Another Akira Kurosawa’s movie. Cult director introduced in 1951 an interpretation of a great Russian classic writer novel. According to Kurosawa, Dostoevsky deserved to be called a unique writer who described real human existence. An unusual approach was that initially Japanese director was not going to film European actors, each single role was performed by Japanese actors. Consequently, there is no wonder that action place was taken from Russia to an island called Hokkaido. Initially Japanese “Idiot” supposed to have record lasting. Film length was about 280 minutes. The final variant was much shorter and was cut up to 166 minutes. Studio management insisted on making it shorter. It should be mentioned that film shooting was made indoors entirely. In spite of two cultures difference, the movie is deep, philosophic and moving. Specialists of our website advise to watch screen adaptation of famous novel in Japanese with subtitles to maximally enjoy atmosphere of this without exaggeration masterpiece.

3. “Tokyo Story” is a post war picture of director Yasujirō Ozu created in 1953. It may seem a banal variation of a hackneyed theme of fathers and children (elderly couple go to Tokyo to visit their grown up children, who already have their own active life), but it just seems so. For a 136 minute film dynamic is not much, however, such a drawback is smoothened out by spectacular views of Japanese capital, sincere conversation with a spectator and philosophical thinking on eternal values. Obviour fact that “Tokyo Story” can not be called ordinary melodrama is proved with another fact: it occupies a worthy place in personal ratings of many directors with a worldwide reputation, among whom we can name Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders.

4. “Godzilla” directed by Ishirō Honda in 1954. There is no wonder that the first movie about a prehistoric monster that quietly and peacefully was sleeping on the Pacific Ocean bottom was created exactly in Japan. The tape “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!”, which was released in 1956 in the USA and which got the universal acclaim, is just a re-editing of an original Japanese variant with a slight change in the plot and addition of a couple of scenes. The story of “Godzilla” appearing is not accident at all. Some time earlier a director Tomoyuki Tanaka was banned to create a film that was going to tell about a fishing boat in the zone of American nuclear tests (this story, by the way, was real). Tanaka did not quit his idea and turned it into a movie-catastrophe.

The plot is not complicated or sophisticated. Fifty-meter height lizard, which has been waken up by a rehearsal of military actions in ocean depths, comes out to surface and being angry starts to break everything on its way. Early prototype of Godzilla was a hybrid of gorilla and whale. An unusual name the creature got as a result of two words merging, i.e. “gorira” in Japanese means “gorilla” and “kujira” means “whale”. Later monster was turned into a dinosaur and its name remained as it was. It is known that monster rubber suit weighed more than ninety kg and for a stuntman it was almost unbearable to be inside it because of weight and heat. A pretty small budget along with a quite poor technical base (one can hardly say that in the 50s of 20th century Japanese cinema was on its rise) have not prevented from creation of a cult picture, which is equally amusing and pleasant to watch even sixty years later. Japanese “Godzilla” is a starting point for a multiseries franchise about the adventures of a furies toothy-tailed monster, which today has more than twenty films.

5. “The Naked Island”. The film created by Kaneto Shindō in 1960. The main feature of “The Naked Island”, which long time ago was recognized the world cinema masterpiece, is that it is not a silent movie, but a wordless picture. The film that tells about the difficulties of life of a peasant family on an island, which does not have fresh water, is an ode dedicated to a “small human”. Monotonous life, hard manual labor, simple joys in form of clothes buying, deep sorrows have been presented in 94-minute movie. It describes life of Japanese spouses with two children without any “decoration” ( Shindō’s creation helps to approach to understanding of Japanese character (mentality), which seems hard-working, persistent and hard-bitten. Absolute absence of dialogues transmits silence that has fettered main characters and reflects pretty strict leitmotif of picture expressed in a phrase “life goes on, whatever happens”. Have some patience, some calmness, because “The Naked Island” is meditation movie. We would like to mention a curious event: in 1961 Japanese film was awarded with Great Prize given by II Moscow International Film Festival.

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6. “Woman in the Dunes”. Hiroshi Teshigahara movie of 1964. A film based on an eponymous novel created by Japanese writer and playwright Kōbō Abe became one of a trilogy parts. Later it included other films: “The Face of Another” with “The Man Without a Map”. According to movie creators, suffering of an entomologist-amateur inside a sand pit tramp and his                          connection (communication) with a man, who is at the top, symbolize western and eastern attitude to freedom and understanding of values of life. Sensual film-parable with an emotionally tense atmosphere and perfect visual scenes deservedly takes its place among the best cinema masterpieces of Japan.

7. “Your Humble Servant Cat” directed by Kon Ichikawa in 1975.The beginning of the twentieth century. Surrounding reality develops with an amazing speed, Europeanization is in full swing, but on the outskirts of a large Japanese city the things remain as they are. The last intellectuals represented by a schoolteacher and a couple of his friends gather here. On a distance from the new world they drink tea, listen to music and hold discussions on how much difficult it is for a good person to live in the modern country, in which there is no place for real art or real beauty. Maybe, never-ending talks still time from dynamic plot, but a peaceful light reflection as a result, in fact, appears to be close for many people, so the movie will definitely touch a lot of souls.

8. “Ring”. Famous movie of Hideo Nakata created in 1998. “Ring” is another film that was successfully copied and replicated by Hollywood. We all know famous “Ring” of 2002 with Naomi Watts in the lead role, which is for sure much more famous than its original Japanese variant. A creepy story was shot basing on two novels: “Ring” and “Spiral” created by writer Kôji Suzuki. Kôji was inspired by Poltergeist horror stories. Film about a deadly videotape that condemns any person who watches has become the highest grossing horror film in Japanese cinema history. Explanation is pretty clear: in spite of national features (even in horror genre Japanese have more philosophy rather than show), “Ring” watching is scarily gripping, honestly saying ( Level of tension, feeling of despair along with icy terror go off-scale, meanwhile original and unusual ending pleasantly surprises.

9. “Battle Royale”. Kinji Fukasaku created it in 2000. Shot on eponymous novel of Koushun Takami film tells about an “excursion” of 42 pupils to an uninhabited island. “Battle Royale” is a project of the Japanese Ministry of Education, which has become the answer to the adolescence problems of teenagers who boycott the educational process. Exile in the distant places is not the end of the story: school children have to take part in a cruel game, at the finish point of which in three days only one of them should remain alive. The film got many Japanese cinema awards and in general got high feedback-reviews. It is up to you to decide whether you psychological state can bare such scenes. The film is pretty “bloodthirsty”. According to famous admire of aesthetic screen adaptation of violence Quentin Tarantino movie occupies rightful place in his list of best movies created since 1992

10. “Dolls”. In 2002 new film was shot by Takeshi Kitano. Scandal film “Dolls” is called best creation of one of the greatest Japanese directors. At the Venice Film Festival in 2002 it produced an exploding bomb effect, but eventually did not get any award. Film presents sophisticated combination of three love stories with a single leitmotif, which describes people as controlled marionettes. In opening novel the main character breaks up with his beloved because of marriage of convenience, and she in despair tries to commit a suicide, fails and runs mad. Next story presents yakuza head, who being old discovers that a girl, whom he broke up with long time ago, still comes every week to an agreed place and waits for him. In the third episode a young TV star falls into a car accident, after which she becomes disfigured, and consequently starts to hide from society. Her biggest admire blinds himself to demonstrate seriousness of his feelings and intentions. All three stories appear unbelievably beautiful in their scenes. Director Kitano has managed to combine colouring and charm of traditional Japanese puppet theater with human destinies and transferred it all on screen. Three stories teach: love can not be betrayed. There are no scenes of violence or crazy shootings, but still movie is very cruel just as our world, which constantly proves that each human life is kind of a tragedy. Kitano’s “Dolls” combined emotional heartbreaking cinematic masterpiece along with eternal love metaphor.

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