Movies based on pre-modern texts

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Chris Kern

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Nov 1, 2022, 11:36:24 AM11/1/22
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Good morning all,

In preparation for a class next semester, I'm trying to come up with movies that are based on pre-modern Japanese texts (either Edo or pre-Edo). Both the texts themselves and the movies would need to be available in English translation.

Here is what I have so far:
  • Tale of the Bamboo Cutter - Ghibli anime adaptation (Princess Kaguya)
  • Uji shui monogatari -> Akutagawa -> Rashomon movie
  • Ataka, Kanjincho, and The men who tread on the tiger's tail (Kurosawa)
  • Life of an Amorous Woman - Life of Oharu
In particular I would like to learn about some more recent movies. The adaptation could be loose and the movie does not have to be Japanese (for instance, maybe it would be interesting to do Chushingura and then the Keanu Reeves 47 Ronin movie.) Because of the nature of the class the original literature does have to be Japanese (so no Ran or Throne of Blood).

よろしくお願いします。

Chris Kern
Auburn University

Chris Kern

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Nov 1, 2022, 12:24:06 PM11/1/22
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Of course I should add the various Genji movies -- I had excluded those because I am teaching a Genji-heavy class this semester and a number of the same students are taking my spring class, so I didn't want to repeat Genji.

-Chris

Robert Borgen

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Nov 1, 2022, 12:24:13 PM11/1/22
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You missed Mizoguchi’s “Ukigetsu," a great movie.  

Robert Borgen

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F. Mieles

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Nov 1, 2022, 1:05:18 PM11/1/22
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Good morning Kern sensei,


While I’m no longer in academia, this does sound like a very interesting class. 

Last winter, animation studio Science Saru put out an 11 episode adaptation of Heike monogatari, which can be found under the same name in Japanese and under the English title “The Heike Story”. I am unsure if there are hard copies of the official English release at this time. If all else fails, it should be available to stream on Crunchyroll. 

This past summer the same studio released a film called “Inu-oh” (犬王) which depicts a semi-fictional biography of the titular sarugaku artist (you will find more information under Dōami 道阿弥) with several tie ins to the Heike monogatari in the form of a rock opera. The English license is with Aniplex. Again, I do not know if there has been a dvd release yet. 

(The passage of time is poorly marked in this film. In my own personal research I nearly was able to put exact dates on it, pending the birth date of Ashikaga no Yoshimitsu’s only daughter via Hino no Nariko. Something so obscure may not be information I can find without academic sources.)

I hope these help, or at least provide some entertainment value. 

—Fiona Mieles

2022年11月1日(火) 11:36 Chris Kern <chris...@gmail.com>:
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Kevin Mulholland

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Nov 1, 2022, 1:17:20 PM11/1/22
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Ichikawa Kon's The Princess from the Moon.  Very Spielbergian.

-Kevin Mulholland

Kevin Mulholland

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Nov 1, 2022, 1:28:15 PM11/1/22
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There is also the recently released Tale of Heike anime show.

-Kevin Mulholland

Joseph Sorensen

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Nov 1, 2022, 2:49:35 PM11/1/22
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There are of course many adaptations of Yotsuya Kaidan, and there are two pretty interesting Chikamatsu adaptations:

Gonza the Spearman:

Double Suicide (Shinjū ten no Amijima):
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Associate Professor of Japanese
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
222 Sproul Hall, One Shields Avenue
University of California, Davis  95616
Faculty Director, Japan Children's Home Internship Program: https://ealc.ucdavis.edu/japan-childrens-internship-program
Faculty Leader, Kyoto Quarter Abroad: http://quarterabroad.ucdavis.edu/programs
 


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Daniel Joseph

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Nov 1, 2022, 2:49:49 PM11/1/22
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This sounds like a really fun class!

I've never actually seen it, but I seem to recall that one of Mizuoguchi's last movies was based on Heike, called I think "Tales of the Taira Clan" in English.
There was also a Hakkenden anime back in the early 90s, not to mention a pretty wild Fukasaku Kinji movie from the 80s called "Legend of the Eight Samurai."
A personal favorite of mine is Ishii Sogo's take on the Benkei/Yoshitsune legend, called Gojoe (as in the bridge). It draws from Gikeiki, Benkei monogatari etc., and is actually surprisingly well-researched, in addition to being completely bizarre and over the top.

I'm sure there are lots more, but that's what comes to mind for now!
Best,
   Dan Joseph



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Jon Holt

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Nov 1, 2022, 3:14:06 PM11/1/22
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Hi,
When I teach my "Greatest Hits of Japanese Literature" class, which is a lit-film comparison class, we will look at
* Kuroneko (Shindo Kaneto is just a great director) -- and use the title cut story of Shirane and Watson's setsuwa collection -- "Demon at Agi Bridge".  What happens at the end of the movie -- classic demon re-taking part of itself -- is reflected beautifully in that story.  Demon at Agi Bridge has a lot of good stuff for film vs. lit comparisons (it has the original Akutagawa stories, for example).  
* I don't know if anyone mentioned it, but Mizoguchi's Life of Oharu is a fresh take on Life of a Sensuous Woman (parts of it).  It's not anywhere near the rollicking original, but that's the point.

Both Life of Oharu and Kuroneko can be streamed from Criterion.
There is also Mizoguchi's Chikamatsu Monogatari -- based on "Almanac Maker’s Wife”

Jon Holt
Portland State University


On Tue, Nov 1, 2022 at 10:17 AM Kevin Mulholland <mulholla...@gmail.com> wrote:
Ichikawa Kon's The Princess from the Moon.  Very Spielbergian.

-Kevin Mulholland

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Christopher Smith

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Nov 1, 2022, 3:14:11 PM11/1/22
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Hi Chris,

A couple of things come to mind:

Amijima -> Double Suicide, Shinoda
Records of Wei(?) -> Himiko, Shinoda (more of an imaginative interpretation)
Ugetsu monogatari -> Ugetsu, Mizoguchi
Chushingura -> 47 Ronin, Mizoguchi
Tokaido yotsuya kaidan -> several versions, but maybe the Nakagawa one?
Yari no gonza -> Gonza the spearman, Shinoda

Best,
Chris


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Strand, Kendra

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Nov 1, 2022, 3:14:44 PM11/1/22
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Dear Chris, 

This sounds so interesting, and I love the suggestions so far.

Be sure to check out Lindsey Stirek's dissertation on Chihayafuru (manga and anime) as an adaptation of the Ogura hyakunin isshu. She has also presented about the anime series Chōyaku hyakunin isshu uta koi in relation to this topic.

And this is not premodern, of course, but I've been intrigued by the trailers of Watanabe Kazuki's adaptation of Yukiguni for NHK circulating lately. 

Kendra Strand

Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature and Visual Culture

Asian & Slavic Languages and Literatures

University of Iowa


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Joseph Sorensen

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Nov 1, 2022, 3:14:49 PM11/1/22
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Mizoguchi's "Taira Clan Saga" (Shin Heike Monogatari, 1955) is an adaptation of Yoshikawa Eiji's 20th c. novel of that title, a re-imagined account of the rise of Kiyomori prior to The Tale of the Heike as we know it, so probably wouldn't be considered an adaptation of a pre-modern work. It is a very interesting film nonetheless!
 

M. Adolphson

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Nov 2, 2022, 3:04:52 AM11/2/22
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I was going to suggest Mizoguchi as well, but also wanted to add that Hitomi Tonomura wrote an insightful chapter on it, providing an analysis that UG students would enjoy, in Lovable Losers (Hawaii, 2015).

 

Mickey

Melissa

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Nov 2, 2022, 3:06:33 AM11/2/22
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Hello all,

 

I also highly recommend the recent Hinoyōjin by Ōtomo Katsuhiro from the anime film SHORT PEACE (2013) that adapts the story of Oshichi and a rakugo tale, Kaji musuko. I used it in a class last year and it made for a great discussion.

 

Best wishes,

Melissa Van Wyk

Assistant Professor in Japanese Literature

Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Committee on Theater and Performance Studies

The University of Chicago


Claire-Akiko Brisset

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Nov 2, 2022, 3:06:42 AM11/2/22
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Dear Chris (if I may), 

Some further suggestions (what comes to mind at the moment):
- Sonezaki shinjû (Chikamatsu) => Masumura Yasuzô
- Jigoku-hen (Akutagawa, from Uji shûi monogatari) => Toyoda Shirô
- Kwaidan (Hearn and other sources, among which Konjaku monogatari-shû) => Kobayashi Masaki
Sanshô dayû (Mori from previous sources) => Mizoguchi Kenji
- Night drum (Chikamatsu) => Imai Tadashi
- Dôjôji (Konjaku monogatari-shû, nô play) => numerous adaptations
- Momiji-gari (a kabuki shosagoto from a play) => Shibata Tsunekichi (the oldest extant Japanese film)

And maybe a bit out of the focus, but still nice:
- Garden of words (from Man’yô-shû poetry) => Shinkai Makoto

Best wishes,

Claire-Akiko Brisset
PO histoire culturelle du Japon
département ESTAS
Faculté des lettres
Université de Genève


Dennis Darling

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Nov 2, 2022, 3:06:49 AM11/2/22
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Uchida Tomu's 'Chikamatsu's love in Osaka' (浪花の恋の物語) based on Chikamatsu's 'The courier for Hell' (冥途の飛脚)

Dennis





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walthall

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Nov 2, 2022, 3:07:17 AM11/2/22
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Mizoguchi's Ugetsu is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen,
but his Chushingura is boring. It put my students to sleep. I recommend
Inagaki Hiroshi's Chushingura shown in this country under the title of
47 Samurai. Anne


On 2022-11-01 11:02, Christopher Smith wrote:
> Hi Chris,
>
> A couple of things come to mind:
>
> Amijima -> Double Suicide, Shinoda
> Records of Wei(?) -> Himiko, Shinoda (more of an imaginative
> interpretation)
> Ugetsu monogatari -> Ugetsu, Mizoguchi
> Chushingura -> 47 Ronin, Mizoguchi
> Tokaido yotsuya kaidan -> several versions, but maybe the Nakagawa
> one?
> Yari no gonza -> Gonza the spearman, Shinoda
>
> Best,
> Chris
>
> On Tue, Nov 1, 2022 at 11:36 AM Chris Kern <chris...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
>> Good morning all,
>>
>> In preparation for a class next semester, I'm trying to come up with
>> movies that are based on pre-modern Japanese texts (either Edo or
>> pre-Edo). Both the texts themselves and the movies would need to be
>> available in English translation.
>>
>> Here is what I have so far:
>>
>> * Tale of the Bamboo Cutter - Ghibli anime adaptation (Princess
>> Kaguya)
>> * Uji shui monogatari -> Akutagawa -> _Rashomon_ movie
>> * Ataka, Kanjincho, and _The men who tread on the tiger's tail_
>> (Kurosawa)
>> * Life of an Amorous Woman - Life of Oharu
>>
>> In particular I would like to learn about some more recent movies.
>> The adaptation could be loose and the movie does not have to be
>> Japanese (for instance, maybe it would be interesting to do
>> Chushingura and then the Keanu Reeves 47 Ronin movie.) Because of
>> the nature of the class the original literature does have to be
>> Japanese (so no _Ran_ or _Throne of Blood_).
>>
>> よろしくお願いします。
>>
>> Chris Kern
>> Auburn University
>>
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>
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John Lobreglio

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Nov 2, 2022, 9:54:41 AM11/2/22
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Mizoguchi's 1954 Sanshō Dayū 山椒大夫 (Sansho the Bailiff) is probably his greatest work, as well as one of the highlights of all world cinema.

It is based on Mori Ogai's 1915 novel, which is in turn based on the medieval 説経節 『さんせう太夫』. My sense is that this would work very well in the classroom.



Helen E. Moss

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Nov 2, 2022, 10:15:22 AM11/2/22
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Good morning,

Maybe someone mentioned this already, but there are at least two films based on Genji Monogatari, and probably more.

1951 B&W  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tale_of_Genji_(1951_film) I think I've seen this one, and was looking for it, because the costuming is quite unique.
2011 Genji Monogatari; Sennen no Nazo   https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1705064/?ref_=rvi_tt  (may be only very loosely based)

I read in passing that there are 6 films, but this is all I could find with a quick look. There surely must be an anime, too.

- Helen Moss



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Margaret Dorothea Mehl

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Nov 2, 2022, 10:45:44 AM11/2/22
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Dear All,

 

2 Genji filsm I know of:

The Tale of Genji in Film

Anime, 1987

With former Takarazuka actress as Genji, 2001

 

Pics:

https://www.amazon.com/Animation-Murasaki-Shikibu-Monogatari-ACBA-10898/dp/B00IRUSUDE

https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/%E5%90%89%E6%B0%B8%E5%B0%8F%E7%99%BE%E5%90%88/dp/B01LDHB5MA

 

Best wishes,

 

Margaret Mehl

 

Margaret Mehl, Dr. Phil. (Bonn), Dr. Phil. (Copenhagen) Associate Professor

Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN
Karen Blixens Plads 8, DK 2300 Copenhagen S

Out now:

History and the State in Nineteenth-Century Japan: The World, the Nation and the Search for a Modern Past. Second Edition with New Preface.

For details, please see www.margaretmehl.com

邦訳http://www.utp.or.jp/book/b313429.html

Margaret Mehl: Not by Love Alone: The Violin in Japan, 1850 – 2010. A history of the violin’s place in the musical culture of Japan from the opening of Japan to the West to the start of the third millennium. For details please see  www.notbylovealone.com ! Bookvideo at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fmX6XpUIKg

Chance, Linda H.

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Nov 2, 2022, 11:19:06 AM11/2/22
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Dear Chris,

Thank you for starting this cheering thread. I'd like to share my experiences using film and literature together in courses.

I don't think anyone has yet focused on Kobayashi Masaki's Kwaidan. The "Mimi nashi Hôcihi" segment feels like a bit long of an hour, but between Takemitsu Tôru's score, Satsuma biwa by Tsuruta Kinshi, and Kobayashi's own painted backdrops for the "Dannoura" reenactment, there is a lot besides just the appeal to the yôkai generation.

I second the Chihayafuru recommendation. Paired with Peter McMillan's moving translation of Hyakunin isshu, students swoon over waka every time I use it.

My students also love reading and discussing Shinjû Ten no Amijima, although I have hesitated to show more than clips of the Shinoda film because it went over my head as an undergraduate. If you highlight Tomioka Taeko's role as scriptwriter (see the fabulous opening sequence), though, you would have a multi-layered approach to the intersections of premodern and modern.

Anne Walthall is right about Mizoguchi's Genroku Chûshingura. My students fell asleep during a single famous scene we were trying to analyze. But I might persist anyway if my goal were to talk about the wartime use of literature in film.

I've only ever used all of Ugetsu once with a class, but I'll admit that I could not convey to them that it is one of the most beautiful films ever made, plus the best metaphorical treatment of the postwar condition that I know (speaking as a premodernist). We read Akinari next to it, and I think it was more than they could cope with. (They were also not native speakers of English or Japanese, so it was too big an ask.)

My students were falling asleep to Tora no o o fumu otokotachi twenty-five years ago, but now they don't, maybe because I prepare them with notes about Enoken and his laughter. When they watch him, they love him. I also give away in the preview that Yoshitsune speaks only once during the film, which keeps them on their toes. The reveal includes that Yoshitsune is played by the kabuki actor Iwai Hanshirô X, who often played female roles. Throw in the context of censorship and we always have a great time with this historically important film.

I don't use a full Tale of Genji film in teaching, but I do like to highlight the prominence of cross-gendered performances, from Hasegawa Kazuo, who began as an onnagata, in the 1951 film, to Amami Yûki in 2001's (almost unwatchable) Hikaru Genji monogatari Sennen no Koi.

Last but not least, for many years my ace up the sleeve was Jigokumon/Gate of Hell. A loveably cheesy film, no student who saw this on the first day of my Tales of the Heike class ever dropped the course—until the last run. Student tastes seem to have changed. Based on Kikuchi Kan's "Kesa no otto," but ultimately deriving from a Chinese source as found in Konjaku monogatari,How a Woman of Chang-an Changed Pillows with Her Husband and Was Killed by His Enemy,” you can also have them read Akutagawa's "Kesa and Moritô." With Hasegawa Kazuo, Kyô Machiko, and direction by Kinugasa Teinosuke, this is a Cannes Grand Prix winner that impressed audiences in 1953 with its use of color. The unrolling of the Heiji monogatari emaki at the beginning is catnip for premodernists. I'm not sure I would put it next to all the other great films that have been suggested, but I will probably use it again myself.

With thanks to students at the University of Pennsylvania for years of responses,

Linda Chance



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Chris Kern

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Nov 2, 2022, 12:44:14 PM11/2/22
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Thank you all so much for the suggestions so far. I actually did teach a class like this before; it was the spring 2020 semester so the class got messed up thanks to Covid, but I used the following in that class:
  • Bamboo Cutter - kaguya anime
  • Amorous Woman - life of oharu
  • Ugetsu Monogatari - ugetsu
  • Kanjincho - Tiger's tail
  • Macbeth - Throne of Blood
  • Sansho dayu
But since this class has to be premodern JP lit I can't use Macbeth or Sansho Dayu and I wanted to create a better balance between old black and white "classics" and newer stuff. You have given me a great list to go off.

One distressing thing is that none of them had heard of Roger Ebert -- understandable I guess but shows our age.

Sincerely,

Keller Kimbrough

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Nov 2, 2022, 3:19:35 PM11/2/22
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Hi Chris,

 

I was surprised to see you write that you can’t use Sanshō Dayū because the class “has to be premodern JP lit.”  Mori Ōgai’s Sanshō Dayū is of course an adaptation of the sekkyō Sanshō Dayū, a translation of which (the ca. 1639 woodblock-printed text) is included in my Wondrous Brutal Fictions (2013).

 

Personally, I much prefer the “original” Sanshō Dayū to Ōgai’s rewrite.

 

Best wishes,

Keller

 

 

R. Keller Kimbrough
Professor of Japanese
Chair, Dept. of Asian Languages and Civilizations
279 University of Colorado, Boulder
Boulder, CO  80309-0279
keller.k...@colorado.edu

https://www.colorado.edu/faculty/kimbrough-keller/

 

Lindsey Stirek

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Nov 2, 2022, 3:20:01 PM11/2/22
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There are tons of great suggestions here, definitely saving this thread for the future!
Trying to see if there are any that haven't been mentioned... please excuse me if I am repeating anything!
Chōyaku Hyakunin Isshu Uta Koi is always worth mentioning, though it's a series and not a film and Miss Hokusai (2015) is kind of tangentially related, perhaps of interest if you're ever discussing the role of woodblock prints and art in literature during the late Edo period.
And just notes for the future, but it seems there is a new animated film being made right now adapting Makura no sōshi (info here: https://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2022/03/29-1/check-out-2nd-production-preview-for-sunao-katabuchis-new-film), though it's still in early stages.

Sounds like a fun class!

Regards,
Lindsey

Susan Klein

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Nov 2, 2022, 3:50:00 PM11/2/22
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The latter (Sennen no nazo) has the Takarazuka actress playing Genji, and really focuses a lot on the Rokujo plot line. I’ve used it several times in my Gender and Japanese Literature class (in which  I also teach the original Genji, the noh versions Aoi no Ue and Nonomiya, and Takarazuka). It definitely gets students talking about how Rokujo’s possessing spirit is portrayed visually in the film versus the original Genji and the noh, and generally gets them thinking about gender representation in Heian, medieval, and modern periods. A bit goofy but fun. 

~~Susan


Susan Blakeley Klein
Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture
Director, Religious Studies Program
East Asian Studies Department
HIB 446
University of California
Irvine, CA 92697-6000
sbk...@uci.edu
949-232-2122







Susan Klein

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Nov 2, 2022, 4:15:51 PM11/2/22
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Also, just seeing some later responses — I love using Shinoda’s Shinju Ten no Amijima in my theater class and have never noticed students struggling with it. I actually use it as one choice for a final project (comparing the original Bunraku/Kabuki versions with the film, what “traditional” performative techniques Shinoda uses and to what effect). But I also use Shinoda’s film version of Yashagaike/Demon Pond (which won’t work for this class since the original is by Izumi Kyoka, although it has deep ties to premodern lit as Cody Poulton has pointed out). In fact, I have videos of four different performances (including Shinoda’s film version with Tamasaburo and Hanagumi Shibai’s NeoKabuki version), so you can tell I’m definitely a fan of…well, for lack of a better word, camp (I have to spend an inordinate amount of time  problematizing “camp” in the class itself). 

Big fan of Yotsuya Kaidan as a Kabuki play (which I use for Premodern Japanese Ghosts) but because all of the film versions de-politicize the original (removing Tsuruya Nanboku’s implicit criticism of samurai values in Chushingura, turning it into a relatively straightforward “hell hath no fury” horror film), I have some trouble with using the modern film versions. Luckily it's a class on premodern Japanese ghosts, so I don’t have to, but that’s definitely a place where I have the feeling the play is going over some of their heads — just generally there’s always a subgroup of students who are very resistant to criticism of Bushido. 

~~Susan

Claire-Akiko Brisset

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Nov 2, 2022, 4:40:50 PM11/2/22
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Dear all,

It reminds me that there is a very recent version of Yotsuya kaidan by Miike Takashi (which could ensure "a better balance between old black and white ‘classics' and newer stuff"), entitled Over your dead body (KUIME) (Shôchiku, 2014), with renowned kabuki actors, but it's Miike’s style...

Best wishes,

Claire-Akiko Brisset
PO histoire culturelle du Japon
département ESTAS
Faculté des lettres
Université de Genève


Le 2 nov. 2022 à 21:14, Susan Klein <sbk...@uci.edu> a écrit :

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Caitlin Casiello

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Nov 2, 2022, 4:51:53 PM11/2/22
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There’s an erotic loose animated adaptation of Life of an Amorous Man called The Sensualist (in English), directed by Yamamoto Eiichi (formerly of Tezuka’s MushiPro) c. 1997. 

On Tue, Nov 1, 2022 at 11:36 AM Chris Kern <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:
Good morning all,

In preparation for a class next semester, I'm trying to come up with movies that are based on pre-modern Japanese texts (either Edo or pre-Edo). Both the texts themselves and the movies would need to be available in English translation.

Here is what I have so far:
  • Tale of the Bamboo Cutter - Ghibli anime adaptation (Princess Kaguya)
  • Uji shui monogatari -> Akutagawa -> Rashomon movie
  • Ataka, Kanjincho, and The men who tread on the tiger's tail (Kurosawa)
  • Life of an Amorous Woman - Life of Oharu
In particular I would like to learn about some more recent movies. The adaptation could be loose and the movie does not have to be Japanese (for instance, maybe it would be interesting to do Chushingura and then the Keanu Reeves 47 Ronin movie.) Because of the nature of the class the original literature does have to be Japanese (so no Ran or Throne of Blood).

よろしくお願いします。

Chris Kern
Auburn University

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