Education About Asia: Online Archives

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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 chronicle...

Columns, Film Review

I for India

CELLULOID DREAMS DVD, 70 MINUTES, 2005 Reviewed by Gwen Johnson   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 a...

Columns, Film Review

Out of the Poison Tree

GOOD FILM WORKS DVD, 57 MINUTES, 2006 Reviewed by Nancy Janus   [caption id="attachment_21396" align="aligncenter" width="578"] Thida Buth Mam (one of the three sisters) in Cambodia. ©2006 Good Film Works.[/caption] 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 f...

Columns, Film Review


NEW YORK: THE CINEMA GUILD DVD, 52 MINUTES, 2007 ENGLISH SUBTITLES Reviewed by Robert Angel Award-winning Japanese videographer Kazuhiro Soda has given high school and university instructors a DVD-based, fifty-two 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. Elections are one of t...

Columns, Film Review

The Roots of Japanese Anime Until the End of WWII

DIRECTED BY: MITSUYO SEO, KENZŌ MASAOKA, NOBURŌ ŌFUJI, YASUJI MURATA, YOSHITARO KATAOKA ZAKKA FILMS DVD, 92 MINUTES, 2008 Reviewed by Paul Dunscomb 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 E...

Film Review, Resources

The Forbidden Kingdom

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 locations—a bamboo forest, a Buddhist cave temple, the Gobi desert, a teahouse, and the well-know myth of the Monkey King—The Forbidden Ki...

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 narra...

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. Its great twentieth century leaders all achieved distinction by acts of renunciation. Mahatma Gandhi renounced a career as a barrister and lived an austere life; Ja...

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...

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...

Film Review, Resources

Tibetan Medicine: The Knowledge of Healing

The Knowledge of Healing is the first cinematic effort to record and introduce time-tested, mysterious Tibetan medicine to a Western audience. The film, through interviews with Tibetan doctors, patients, scientists, and the current Dalai Lama, explains the philosophic aspects of Tibetan medicine and the methods, of Tibetan treatments, as well as the extraordinary effectiveness of Tibetan med­icinal herbs.

Film Review

The Contingency of China’s Imperial Unity: Assassins Attack the First King of Qin

Four films made recently in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) dwell on the circumstances of China’s creation as a unified imperial state during the third century BCE. As the instructor of a one-semester Chinese history introductory survey of the imperial period (221 BCE to 1911 CE), I use the films to intro­duce the course and raise questions about state power, unity, and legitimacy in early Chinese history. Supplemented by two short reading assignments, the films orient students within ...

Film Review

The Making of a Terrorist: Through the Lens of Bollywood

Bollywood: The Voice of the Subaltern1? The offerings of Bollywood have frog-leaped from the “low-brow”2 entertainment of yesteryear to become the cultural representatives of all things Indian in the current global economy. Popularity of these films is at an all-time high, reflecting their influence in food, fashion, music, dance, ritual, and worship to audi­ences around the globe.3 The patriotic fervor that runs through many of these films, both in terms of national identity and “Indi...

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 ...

Film Review

New China’s Forgotten Cinema, 1949-1966: More than Just Politics

Several years ago when planning a course on modern Chinese history as seen through its cinema, I realized or saw a significant void. I hoped to represent each era of Chinese cinema from the Leftist movement of the 1930s to the present “Sixth Generation,” but found most available subtitled films are from the post-1978 reform period. Films from the Mao Zedong period (1949–76) are particularly scarce in the West due to Cold War politics, including a trade embargo and economic blockade lasting...

Film Review

Western Eyes

Why are eyes an important symbol of who we are? Are they really “windows to the soul?” Maybe not, but eyes ‘frame’ our face and betray our ethnic origins; they tell us nothing about our upbringing nor where we feel we belong.

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 Looc...

Film Review

Women in Japan: Memories of the Past, Dreams of the Future

The stereotype of the Asian woman as subservient, selfless, and obedient to her husband has dominated Western think­ing for over 150 years. The video, Women in Japan: Memories of the Past, Dreams of the Future, presents quite a different version of the modern woman in Japan. Award-winning filmmak­er Joanne Hershfield, Professor of Film and Video Production, and Jan Bardsley, Associate Professor of Japanese Language and Literature Curriculum in Asian Studies, both from the University of North C...

Film Review

Kutiyattam: Sanskrit Theater of India (A CD-ROM)

This multimedia, interactive CD-ROM is a visually rich and appealing survey of the ancient South Indian theater of kutiyattam, associated with temples and religious ritual since the tenth century CE Special temple servant castes produce the dance-story performances that are considered to be visual sac­rifices to the temple deity.