It seemed to take forever, but my book on Kinugasa Teinosuke's silent masterpiece, A Page of Madness (Kurutta ichipeiji) is finally out. I started working on it over a decade ago but was stuck with a publisher that in the end was unable to publish the book. It took a long time for it to become clear that the publisher was for all intents and purposes defunct, but in the meantime, I was able to finally access crucial internal documents about the film's production in the National Film Center, including the shooting notes and the actual script used on the set (which is not the script printed in Kawabata Yasunari's complete works), and rewrote the book for another publisher. Mine is the first publication to extensively use these rare documents. I added translations of contemporary reviews and also of shooting notes for scenes likely contained in the original film that have been cut for some reason in the intervening years and are not visible in the current print. In the end, maybe I was fortunate to suffer that delay: the book is better as a result.
What would make the publication even better is if there was a DVD of the film out there. There are people who sell pretty bad copies on VHS or DVD on the net, but only a real professional mastering could do justice to that film's visual complexity. A colleague in Japan is working on bringing out a DVD commercially in Japan, but the last word was that the company is showing second thoughts. I keep on telling him there is strong demand for such a DVD abroad, but some Japanese companies can be pretty dense about foreign markets. Maybe this book will be one more argument for putting a DVD out.
The CJS at Michigan, which finally published the book, does not have a big distribution circuit. You have to order it directly from them or through Amazon--which is basically just ordering it through CJS since it is the only seller listed there. They won't let you "look inside" the book, so here at least is the table of contents:
Chapter 1. What Is This Film?
Chapter 2. Taishô and Its Cinema
Chapter 3. The Avant-Garde and the Shinkankaku School
Chapter 4. From Onnagata to Film Artist
Chapter 5. A Less Than Independent Production
Chapter 6. The Screenplay
Chapter 7. The Filming
Chapter 8. Editing and the Print
Chapter 9. The Exhibition of Artistry
Chapter 10. Understanding and the Problem of Reception
Chapter 11. Divided Styles
Chapter 12. Narrating Divisions
Chapter 13. The Logic of Separation and the Masking of Cinema
Appendix A: Translations of Contemporary Reviews
Appendix B: A Sample of the Shooting Notes of Missing Scenes
The CJS will also be publishing the Research Guide to Japanese Film Studies that Markus Nornes and I wrote, so look for that to appear in a month or two.