News and Opinion

Obayashi Nobuhiko’s Once Seen Movie Theater


It was a great thrill welcoming the illustrious film director Obayashi Nobuhiko to Yale last fall and helping the Japan Society do a long-awaited retrospective of his work. Not only was it wonderful re-encountering his films, but it was an honor getting to know him and his family during his visit to the States. They are truly warm and generous people. When we were back in Japan this summer, they even treated me and my family to some very fine tempura near Futako Tamagawa.

His foreign fans might not know this, but Obayashi is a prolific writer, one who has published over two dozen books. His most recent tome has just been published, and it is huge: a two-volume work totaling 1368 pages! Entitled Itsuka mita eigakan (roughly translated as “Once Seen Movie Theater” or “Theater of Movies I Once Saw”), it is basically a collection of Obayashi’s thoughts on 121 films ranging from Preston Sturges' Sullivan’s Travels to Ozu Yasujiro’s Equinox Flower. The majority of films are foreign, but range in genre from Westerns to films featuring music. A few other essays are included, particularly about war and cinema, and an extra bonus is a DVD entitled “The Truth and Lies of John Wayne.”

Aaron Gerow’s old papers

I don’t like titles with my own name in them, but this is both accurate and more conducive to web searches. 

For a while I’ve been wondering about what to do with my old papers and articles. Having published for over 25 years, I have a large number of them, some of which are in now out-of-print books, obscure journals, or film festival catalogs that were never intended for wide distribution. I was not always particular about where I published—for instance only thinking about “tenure-able” venues—and always believed that academics should be instructive where they can in multiple platforms. But in trying to reach out to many audiences, some of my writing has been caught in the ephemerality of much publishing. While I don’t intend to assert my scholarship deserves world-wide attention, I still hope some of it can be of help to both film fans and scholars, which it can’t if it is unavailable or not readily available.

That’s why I’ve decided to start making available some of my old papers and articles on a couple of internet platforms. The first is the Yale section of Bepress, an open access platform. The second is I am more comfortable with the former, since, despite its educational name, is a for-profit company, but I thought using multiple platforms means more availability. 

Everything © Aaron Gerow. Send comments and suggestions to