An interview with Donald Richie

"...considered the leading Western authority on Japanese cinema."


Interview with Donald Richie (2003)

Donald Richie Film Anthology You mentioned you made a few films yourself, and they ran in Image Forum here in Tokyo a few years ago. Can you tell me something about them?

DR: During the 50s and 60s I made a number of what you would call Experimental Films or Underground Films. They're all 8mm or 16mm films. I only made one on 35mm. These are very personal films. They are to the feature film as poetry is to literature. They are very lyrical, they're very short. The longest one is 50 minutes. Usually they're all about 20-25 minutes. They don't have any dialogue at all. They all have meticulous soundtracks, but no dialogue. They get screened about once a year. They'll be put on DVD soon. You can see the Japan in the 50s very clearly in them. I'm really an aesthetician, so these films are aesthetic exercises. I'm very interested in aesthetics, which again is another part of this country. It aestheticises everything. It aestheticises violence, love…


Were you operating in any broader filmmaking movement at the time?

DR: No. They were completely for myself. In fact, this movement had not yet started here. I was one of the few people to introduce the whole concept of the Experimental Film . So in fact the first ones they had seen were by me, the ones I made in Ohio. I showed them here. They had a modest impact. People like Oshima have written about the effect they had on him, Hani, and a couple of different directors. They didn't emulate me but they learnt more about the genre, and then they got to see films by a few other directors later. So little by little the genre grew. It grew and withered. There was a big explosion in the 60s, but it doesn't exist any more. Then out of this came a number of directors. Kobayashi was one, Oshima, Yoshida Kiju, Shinoda. So I made films when I was back in Ohio, but this was something I thought of as playing, and writing as something I do for real.

Reproduced with kind permission from www.midnighteye.com
Interview by: Jasper Sharp

Included on this DVD are:

  • WARGAMES , 1962 22 minutes
  • ATAMI BLUES , 1962, 20 minutes
  • BOY WITH CAT , 1967, 5 minutes
  • DEAD YOUTH , 1967, 13 minutes
  • FIVE FILOSOPHICAL FABLES , 1967, 47 minutes
  • CYBELE , 1968, 20 minutes

This DVD is imported from Japan.

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A Donald Richie Film Anthology



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