Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

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Columns, Film Review

Ultimate Power: The Race

“Ultimate Power: The Race” (1999) is part of a 12-part ABC series, The Century. It includes both documentary footage of Manhattan Project days and new interviews. Much of the documentary footage is available elsewhere. The interviewees include the usual suspects—Hans Bethe, Freeman Dyson, Edward Teller—and some not-so-usual: atomic scientists Martin Deutsch, Boyce McDaniel, Joseph Rotblat. Two interviewees are scholars: William Lanouette and Richard Rhodes.1 The film has clear photograph...

Columns, Film Review

Ancient India

About the time I read in India Today of the discovery of an ancient city under the waters of the Gulf of Cambay that may predate Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, I received a copy of the film Ancient India to review. From the title, I anticipated an opportunity to revisit scenes of the Indus Valley Civilization and possibly catch up on recent archaeological discoveries I may have missed. My first disappointment is that this film’s title is misleading. Rather than exploring “Ancient India,” which ...

Columns, Film Review

Tune in Korea: Geography and Society Teacher Resource and Video

The rich history and culture of Korea, as well as its critical ties to our own nation, provide compelling reasons for including Korea in educational frameworks. Tune in Korea: Geography and Society is a solid resource for grades 6–9, laying the foundation for exploration of this culture, its history, and its place in contemporary society....

Columns, Film Review

War and Peace

Recent world events have made Anand Patwardhan’s new film War and Peace more attractive for classroom use than it might otherwise have been. A thoughtful critic of Indian society and politics, this prominent documentary filmmaker offers an insider’s view of the historical trajectory leading from the independence and partition of Pakistan and India in 1947 to nuclear competition between the two states today. Patwardhan’s iconoclastic approach offers a noteworthy alternative to the dominant...

Columns, Film Review

South Korea: From Illiteracy to Affluence

This video, which chronicles the history of education in Korea since 1945, offers important lessons for all Americans, especially for our elected officials. A production of the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank, the video makes a convincing case for why South Korea’s investment in its citizens through education is a major factor in the nation’s spectacular growth since the 1960s....

Columns, Film Review

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation is Sofia Coppola’s most ambitious film to date. It depicts the interaction of two Americans, both fish out of water in a hotel in Tokyo. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an over-the-hill American actor in Tokyo to film whiskey ads; “Charlotte” is a recent college graduate who has accompanied her photographer-husband to Tokyo and been left to amuse herself. Bob and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) spend time together, develop an affection for each other, and part. In one scene...

Columns, Film Review

The Golf War: A Story of Land, Golf, and Revolution

The genteel game of golf kills Filipinos! To oppose powerful developers intent on converting farmland and fishing areas in the Philippines into golf-course-enhanced tourist attractions is to risk life and limb. Politicized violence from the government and private armies (“guns, goons and gold”) are all too familiar in the Philippines and other late-industrializing countries. In this well-framed case study, carefully documented corrupt land deals stretch from local government in Hacienda Lo...

Columns, Film Review

Beijing Bicycle

One of a number of recent Chinese films with applications for the pre-collegiate classroom, Wang Xiaoshuai’s Beijing Bicycle follows the intersecting stories of Guei, a naïve, taciturn young man who has recently arrived from the country, and his counterpart, Jian, a moody urban schoolboy from a blended family. Landing a job as a bicycle messenger, Guei is given the chance to earn his bicycle and glean a percentage of the delivery fees by meeting a certain delivery quota. The bicycle is stole...

Film Review, Film Review Essay, Resources

Spirits of the State: Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine

One of the most difficult issues to teach and explain, whether in the classroom, in public forums, or in friendly conversations, is the seemingly implacable rift between Japan and its neighbors. Sixty years after a catastrophic war in the region, when one would think time would have healed at least some of the wounds, the divisions between the countries in East Asia appear to be growing wider rather than narrowing. Political concerns go a long way to explicate these divisions—the rise of China...

Columns, Film Review

Preaching from Pictures: A Japanese Mandala

Preaching from Pictures: A Japanese Mandala is a remarkably dense, recently reissued DVD based on the earlier video of the same name. Extremely useful for undergraduate or high-school classes in history, art history, religion, and gender studies, whether Asian, Japanese, or general, it explores two nearly contemporary but dissimilar paintings in considerable detail, showing viewers what they reveal about the history of the times, the purposes and pleasures of the paintings, and something of the...

Columns, Film Review

India of the Gandhis

This documentary seems to have originally been made for French television and shot in 2004, shortly after the victory of the Congress-led coalition in India’s general elections of that year. Its central theme is not easy to extract, but appears to be that India is a Hindu land immersed in deep spiritual values such as renunciation....

Columns, Film Review

The Concrete Revolution

“This is a personal film set in a political landscape. Twenty-first century China is the character, and Beijing is the battlefield of a fast changing history,” says director Xiaolu Guo of The Concrete Revolution, in her director’s statement that is part of the DVD’s special features. The documentary’s intimate female voice-over pays homage to the personal essay film style of Chris Marker, whom Guo also mentions in her statement. Indeed, the film promises much more than a feminine na...

Columns, Film Review

Out of the Poison Tree

Out of the Poison Tree, written, directed, and produced by Beth Pielert, details the return to Cambodia of three sisters in search of information on the death of their father at the hand of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. This magnificently photographed film introduces the viewer as much to life in modern-day Cambodia as it does to the horrible history of the 1970s genocide....

Columns, Film Review

I for India

I for India documents the intimate, heartbreaking, and funny moments of an Indian family’s forty-year immigrant experience in the United Kingdom, and explores the themes of identity, loyalty, cultural discrimination, racism, separation, and belonging. These themes resonate today as much as they did in 1966 when Yash Pal Suri, the eldest son of an Indian family, arrives in the United Kingdom with his wife and daughter in search of advanced medical education. Even though he has chosen to leave ...

Columns, Film Review

The Roots of Japanese Anime Until the End of WWII

The DVD Roots of Japanese Anime brings together eight early examples of Japanese animation from the 1930s to 1942. Four of the short films, The Village Festival, Song of Spring, The Monkey Masamune, and Chameko’s Day date from 1930–31; three others, Chinkorobei and the Treasure Box, Danemon Ban—The Monster Exterminator, and Benkei and Ushiwaka are from the mid to late thirties. The set concludes with the 1942 Navy Ministry-sponsored Momotarō’s Sea Eagle....

Columns, Film Review

Campaign

Award-winning Japanese videographer Kazuhiro Soda has given high school and university instructors a DVD-based, fiftytwo minute classroom tool that we all can consider seriously. Campaign offers an entertaining and informative means of helping to explain the role of elections and political campaigning in Japan’s democratic process....

Film Review, Resources

The Forbidden Kingdom

DIRECTOR, ROBMINKOFF LIONS GATE FILMS, INC. DVD, 113 MINUTES., COLOR, 2008 ENGLISH/MANDARIN SUBTITLES Reviewed by Elizabeth Parke Promotional movie posters for The Forbidden Kingdom visually link two of the most recognized kung fu actors, Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Joined at the J, Jackie Chan’s name runs horizontally while Jet Li’s name drops vertically. The use of composite imagery in the film’s marketing strategy is mirrored throughout the film. Using carefully chosen shooting locatio...

Film Review, Resources

Can’t Go Native?

PRODUCED, DESIGNED, AND EDITED BY DAVID W. PLATH MEDIA PRODUCTION GROUP ASIAN EDUCATIONAL MEDIA SERVICE DVD, 56 MINUTES, 2010 Reviewed by David Huebner Can’t Go Native? is the intriguing and very personalized account of American anthropologist Keith Brown’s long relationship with the Japanese people. As a graduate student in 1961, Brown visited Japan for doctoral research. He fell in love with Japan and her peoples, culture, and customs. Brown’s numerous trips to Japan are chronic...
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