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Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context: 01/24/15
We are a family of anime watchers. I would hazard a guess that three quarters of what we watch is anime. Recently we've gone through a run of very surreal series. And that got my husband and me talking about what cultural influences might be behind these abstract series.
Long story short, a Google Book search brought up an interesting chapter about My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro). While not exactly on topic for the conversation on hand, it was still too tempting a snipet to leave unread. So I found a copy via Link+ and voilá!
Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context by Keiko I. McDonald is a beginner's guide to understanding some key Japanese films, though not necessarily the most famous ones. These essays aren't exactly film theory in that there's a lot of time spent in these essays just describing the action on the screen, rather than putting those things into a larger perspective or cultural reading.
Along with the essays, though, there is a introduction and a conclusion that offers the history of Japanese cinema. The historical perspective is where this book excels. I wish there was more history and less attempt at film analysis.
So back to the original question: is there a tie between the French avant-garde and modern day anime? Yes, along with American, German, and Russian, because Japan has repeatedly sent filmmakers overseas to learn from other industries. But to answer the question is there a specific chain of influence between the recent anime we've watched and France, this isn't the book.