Japanese cinema, from the silent era to the present day, is one of the world's richest film cultures, largely because it can boast a remarkable number of directors each of whom has produced a body of work that is distinctive both in its personal concerns/recurring themes and in displaying a unique visual style. One can debate which of these artists deserve to be recognised as "creators of genius" or "minor but talented" or "ambitious but problematic" etc.; the important thing is to establish that they are all worthy of attention. After an opening chapter that outlines with laudable clarity the effects of socio-cultural and economic trends in Japanese history upon its film industry, Alexander Jacoby profiles the work of no less than 156 directors, offering succinct, vivid accounts of their careers. He has clearly viewed thousands of Japanese films, but where prints of potentially key works are lost or inaccessible, he provides intelligent, cogent assessments based on contemporary or more recent crtitical sources. Whether your interest in Japanese cinema is deep-rooted or passing, this book is essential reading.