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Film Review Essay

Con/texts for Viewing Geisha

Arthur Golden’s 1997 novel Memoirs of a Geisha remains remarkably popular among college students. Yet far more of our students are likely to have watched the 2005 film version (Rob Marshall, director) than to have read the book. Like the book, the appeal of the film is rooted, in large part, in its claim of authenticity and its capacity to present a complex, exotic world that fuses erotic sensibilities with the rigid conventions of geisha performance art. Anne Allison’s thoughtful 1999 revie...

Feature Article

Lessons of The Last Samurai

Samurai, among the most popular icons of Japanese history and culture, are often the subject of common myths or simplifications. Those of us who teach in the field of Japanese Studies confront these iconic images in the cultural baggage our students carry into the classroom, most recently from the lavish Tom Cruise vehicle The Last Samurai. Efforts to establish authenticity in this big-budget Hollywood production, with its elaborate sets and meticulously-filmed battle sequences on remote New Zea...

Feature Article

Lessons of The Last Samurai

Samurai, among the most popular icons of Japanese history and culture, are often the subject of common myths or simplifications. Those of us who teach in the field of Japanese Studies confront these iconic images in the cultural baggage our students carry into the classroom, most recently from the lavish Tom Cruise vehicle The Last Samurai. Efforts to establish authenticity in this big-budget Hollywood production, with its elaborate sets and meticulously-filmed battle sequences on remote New Zea...