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The Samurai Film [Paperback]

Alain Silver

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Price: £17.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 Mar 2007
Popularized and perfected by one of the greatest auteurs in the history of cinema, Akira Kurosawa, the themes of the Samurai film have consistently crossed over into western film. Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" builds on this long tradition of appropriation. "The Magnificent Seven" and "A Fistful of Dollars" are both adaptations of Kurosawa films. Long regarded as one of the world's most astute film analysts, Alain Silver deconstructs the key aspects of this vital film genre, from its focus on violence and death as a means of understanding life and the significance of swords and weaponry, to key elements and motifs such as hara-kiri, rebellion and nostalgia for Japan's feudal past. With comprehensive filmographies of the major directors and films, a survey of the history and myths of the Samurai and extensively illustrated with more than 200 photographs, "The Samural Film" is the ultimate resource for one of world cinema's most influential and compelling genres.

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The Samurai Film + Warring Clans, Flashing Blades: A Samurai Film Companion
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd; Revised edition edition (29 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715636626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715636626
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 25 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 767,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"'The definitive study of this traditional movie genre' American Cinematographer"

About the Author

Alain Silver is the author of Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (0879514795) the definitive guide to film noir, Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles (0879513519), and The Noir Style (0715632655), published by Overlook Duckworth.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intellectualisation of the samurai film genre, if that is what you require 24 Aug 2011
By Jackal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is a fact that everything can be intellectualised. This book is valuable if you (1) like intellectualisation and (2) have already watched 20 samurai films from different time periods. Without these two criteria I would imagine that this book is very boring. The book doesn't try to be chronological, but instead focuses on different themes (e.g. the samurai in fiction, the bloody films of the 70s). The book is beautifully bound in a good quality hard cover, so it would make a perfect gift for a cineaste.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book for the Best Samurai Films 31 Oct 2007
By Stephen Hawco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well-known and respected film critic Alain Silver has written what should be the definitive work on the (true) samurai film. These are movies made in Japan, and the best ones, the ones that are more than just action films, have something to say. These great directors like Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Gosha, Masaki Kobayashi, and Kihachi Okamoto were seeking to find answers to today's problems in the historical past.

This book is excellent if you want to learn about these men, their movies, and Japanese history/culture. The updated edition even covers new stuff, like later samurai movies that are not as good (the genre really lost something when this first generation of directors left and samurai films began to get made for their own sake). And it mentions American cinema, from The Last Samurai to Kill Bill, movies that were inspired by these great old films of the 50's and 60's and which pale in comparison.

Yes, Silver is extrmely analytical, so you have to actually want to understand cinema to make it through this. He discusses technique, especially the visual style of the director (lighting, camera movement, compostion, type of lens, etc.) and you Tarantino or Cruise fans aren't going to be able to stomach all that.
5.0 out of 5 stars Still A Top Title for its Subject 4 Jan 2014
By Jessica Salmonson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just a spectacular overview of the samurai film, well enough illustrated with stills, and perfect text on the subject. It's now getting to be quite an elderly classic for the subject, but fact is, it covers the entirety of a golden age, and that is lastingly just right.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Serious Analysis of a Serious Art Form 23 Jun 2009
By B. B. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Anyone who watched (with awe) Japanese Samurai films in the 1970s and 80s -- before the samurai craze that led to "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" or "Kill Bill" -- will enjoy the serious scholarship of this book. The author reviews the samurai in history, and on film with chapters on Kurosawa, Musashi, and Shinoda (among others), adds political/social analyses (for example: "Social Rebellion and Personal Identity") contains 150 photographs and several filmographies. Dense type, and not for a reader of frivolous intentions.
9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frist Review!! 19 Jun 2006
By trollificus - Published on Amazon.com
If you are the type of person viewed by others as strage because of your attraction for dubbed, 60s-era, b&w Samurai movies (if not for many other reasons), you will be buoyed by the knowledge presented in this book: That the directors and scriptwriters who produced many of these chambarra were beyond talented, and that the subject matter (of bushido and personal relationships within the cultural and personal codes of conduct of historical Japan) is a worthy lense for the artistic presentation/examination of the human condition.

I believe that's one honkin' runon sentence, and quite against recommended practice, but there it is.

This book will be invaluable for the not-so-knowledgeable chambarra enthusiast who, like me, still needs a little help to differentiate the wheat from the chaff...and the gold from the wheat, for that matter. That there is plenty of chaff is substantiated by the hundreds-long fimlography of Samurai films through the 80s appended. The representative titles in the "Foreign" section of too many video stores would seem to come randomly from this list. As in America, some of the most popular product was pretty much crap, and some of the best directors occasionally had modest success with good work.

The book is a great guide to the directors whose work exhibits strong craft and intellectual depth. Knowing to look for Gosha or Kobiyashi in a selection of unknown-but-presumably-random quality has proven very rewarding.

NOTE: The book is very strong on analysis of their cinematographic choices and techniques. And when I say "strong", I mean there's huge gobs of it. Silver certainly sounds competent, but this level of analysis will be of greater or lesser interest to different people, depending on how deeply one has sunk into Le Pit du Cineasterie.
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