Reviews - What do customers think about The Cinema of Japan and Korea (24 Frames)?
An enthusiastic but confused effort Dec 7, 2006
This book contains quite a few facts about various Japanese and Korean films and filmmakers, and the authors are clearly enthusiastic about their subject matter. However, the organization of the book and its chapters is so poor that it's difficult to discern exactly what the point of the essays are. Each chapter centers, at least for a few sentences, on a single movie, but most quickly spiral off into amorphous discussions of related people, movies, and topics. There is a good amount of speculation--discussion is filled with phrases such as "it is easy to image that," "it is quite possible that," and the word "arguably." Further, the content of the chapters is not coordinated, resulting in repetition and a lack of an overall structure.
I would read this book if you are interested in the particular movies or directors it mentions. But if you're looking like an overview and analysis of Korean and Japanese cinema like I was, then I would suggest looking somewhere else.
Richness of Film Aug 28, 2005
The Cinema of Japan and Korea, part of Wallflower's 24 Frames series, consists of 24 essays, 13 Japanese and 11 Korean films, written by a number of individuals from academic or journalistic backgrounds. Arranged in chronological order, beginning with Kinugasa Teinosuke's A Page of Madness (1926) to Park Chan Wook's Joint Security Area (2000), each essay delves into several aspects of each film such as the Italian, French, and Soviet influence on Kinugusa, the feministic/misogynistic qualities of Kim Ki Duk's The Isle, and modernity and Japan as represented by Tsukamoto Shinya's Tetsuo films.
However, the main aspect that I enjoyed about the book was not so much the detailed analysis of the films, but the detailed background given in a few of the essays, especially those appearing at the beginning of the book. My favorites being Stephanie DeBoer's take on Shimizu Hiroshi's Sayon's Bell (1943) and Peter Harry Ris's essays on Choe In-gyu's Hurrah! For Freedom (1946) and The Guest and My Mother (1961). The DeBoer essay details Japan's use of film in Taiwan. She writes on how the Japanese depicted the Taiwanese as an uncivilized, naïve people by always filming them performing simple daily tasks or by showing how awed they were by the Japanese who sought to enlighten them in order to make them a strong ally for the Japanese Imperial Army. Hurrah! For Freedom is Korea's oldest mostly extant film. There are older films made in Korea, but they were made under the supervision of the Japanese who occupied Korea from 1910-45. The essay on Hurrah! For Freedom also depicts Korean director attempts to produce anti-Japanese films during the occupation period and the difficulties they faced. Ris's essay on The Guest and My Mother tells the short history of Korean film during the early 1960s during which directors had the most freedom to create freedom until the last 15 years or so. Free from a militaristic government, directors were free to criticize the loss of traditional culture, the government, and the vapidity of modern South Korea.
Because most of Korea's pre-1960 films have been lot due to war and lack of preservation, the first few essays focus primarily on Japanese film, however, six of the last essays are on South Korean films. Not only does this show that the quality of Korean films has improved, but it also goes to show that the popularity of South Korean film is growing rapidly and spreading to a number of film markets where it was unpopular before. Not only is this book a decent source on the movies themselves, but it also gives the reader a brief history of Japanese and Korean Cinema.