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FLM 117 — Japanese Film: Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, and Beyond

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 3—Jun 12
Time: 6:30—9:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 16
Units: 2
Tuition: $435
Instructor(s): Jonathan Crow
Status: Closed
Please Note: (No class on May 29)
On-campus course
6:30—9:00 pm
Apr 3—Jun 12
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 16
2 Units
Jonathan Crow
Please Note: (No class on May 29)
This course will explore Japanese film from its beginning to the present. The history books say that there were three great Japanese filmmakers—Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Yasujiro Ozu. Kurosawa created vigorous, muscular samurai epics that influenced the likes of George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Steven Spielberg. In a distinctive, fluid style, Mizoguchi told meditative tales of how women suffer at the hands of men. And Ozu, “the most Japanese” of all directors, told quiet domestic stories that rejected many of the central tenets of Hollywood filmmaking.

This course will offer an introduction to these great filmmakers and other lesser-known directors who contributed to Japanese cinema. We will cover Japan’s fascinating silent film era, its “Golden Age” of cinema during the 1950s, and the New Wave films of the 1960s. We will look at masterpieces from the three greats, as well as from other directors like Mikio Naruse, Nagisa Oshima, and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation to Akira). We will watch ten movies in their entirety, including Ozu’s silent masterpiece I Was Born, But . . . , Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, and the terrifying Gojira (Godzilla). Students will come away from this course with a greater appreciation of Japan’s rich cinematic tradition and cultural history.

Jonathan Crow, Writer; Filmmaker

Jonathan Crow has worked in film production both in Hollywood and in Japan and has taught film at the University of Michigan, Mount Saint Mary’s University, and the New York Film Academy. He has also written extensively about cinema for Yahoo Movies, The Hollywood Reporter, Open Culture, and other publications. He received an MFA in film/video from the California Institute of the Arts and an MA in Japanese studies from the University of Michigan.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.