Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Japanese and Chinese Films

In the past, when I considered Japanese, or Chinese films, I always thought of martial arts and cheesy Godzilla movies. Through studying film history, however, I have learned that there are many film treasures in both of those countries.

JAPAN. The films of Yasujiro Ozu fascinate me. Most of his films have a character struggling to adjust to changing ways of Japan while trying to cling to older traditions. Ozu rarely moves the camera. Watching his films is like being a fly on the wall, observing the happenings of the families portrayed.

I recently saw Red Beard (1965), directed by Akira Kurosawa. What amazed me was the the emotion I felt. His use of symmetry and the framing of each shot, moved me in the same way beautiful music lifts my soul. The film is actually a period piece, shot in black in white, although the movie was actually made in the mid 60s. It's a story of an arrogant, well educated, young doctor who is assigned to a small clinic treating patients who live in poverty.

CHINA. The opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing were visually stunning to me. Zhang Yimou was the artistic director for the event. I watched his film To Live (1994) and felt fascinated by the culture portrayed. This is an epic film--covering four decades--and shows how Chinese government and historical events affected the lives of one family. This film was initially banned in China due to the subtle criticism (but apparently not subtle enough!) of Mao and communism throughout the story.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you are posting. You write so well. Makes me want to watch those movies. You need to let everyone and anyone know about your blog. Quit hiding it from the world.

    Love YA, Kurt