News and Opinion

Nakadai Tatsuya Interview on FilmStruck

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This is just a short post, but I wanted to let you know that an on-camera interview I did for Criterion with the actor Nakadai Tatsuya is now being shown on Criterion’s streaming service, FilmStruck. We invited Nakadai-san to Yale last fall for a truly wonderful event, but he spent good amount of time in New York City before and after Yale. It was about a week after his Yale visit that I went down to NYC to do the interview at the Criterion office. My task was to ask Nakadai-san about his experiences with working with five directors whose films Criterion handles: Kurosawa Akira, Kobayashi Masaki, Naruse Mikio, Okamoto Kihachi, and Teshigahara Hiroshi. I’m not that experienced at these things, but Nakadai-san was full of wonderful stories and the Criterion crew made it (including me) look good.

You have to subscribe to FilmStruck to see it in full, but you can see a snippet featuring Nakadai-san talking about the famous duel at the end of Kurosawa's Sanjuro here on the Criterion site.

Ogino Shigeji, Ofuji Noburo, and Classic Japanese Animation

Even the BBC has reported on this, so the news has spread that the National Film Center in Japan, in collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs and other institutions, has opened the website Japanese Animated Film Classics to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Japanese animation. The site features 64 pre-WWII animated films that can be viewed in full, some with English subtitles. (Right now, the site itself is only in Japanese, though an English site is supposed to be opened soon.) 

Naturally, the site offers a number of important works, starting with Kouchi Jun’ichi’s The Dull Sword (Namakura-gatana), which is counted as one of the first three Japanese-made animated films released in 1917. Kitayama Seitaro, who directed one of the other two (which are not extant), is partially represented through one of his 1918 works, Urashima Taro. Other animators featured include such greats as Masaoka Kenzo, Yamamoto Sanae, and Murata Yasuji. I was particularly happy to see Seo Mitsuyo’s Arichan the Ant (1941) included, since that is not only another example of the work of the director of the two, greatly celebrated wartime Momotaro films, but also reportedly the first use of the multiplanar camera in Japan. 

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